Category: Other Sports Published on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 10:35 Written by Domagoj Kuna
One half of the world spent the weekend watching Valentino Rossi and the Moto GP crowd racing in America at Laguna Seca. One half of Japan spent their weekend watching John McGuinness and the FIM World Endurance crowd kicking it on the 8 Hours of Suzuka at the Suzuka Circuit. But five thousand Slovaks and Poles, returning home from vacation on the Croatian coast, spent the weekend watching Speedway GP in Croatia.
Of course, the winners were obviously the half of the world that watched the American GP, but the humble little Croatian GP was a sensation of its own class, especially because speedway is not the most popular of sports in the region. Along with the standard fifteen championship riders, the sixteenth one, the wildcard, was a local speedway racer Jurica Pavlic, whose family coincidently owns the stadium the GP took place on.
The show started with Croatian historic guardsmen parading over the inner part of the track. Judging by Croatia’s troubled history and the Guards’ role in waging wars against all the possible nations of the universe, the message to the spectators, the sun-burnt grilled-sausage-fed cold-beer-watered spectators, was probably one of the evolution of the mankind over the last two centuries. As if they wanted to remind us, the sun-burnt grilled-sausage-fed cold-beer-watered spectators of the peaceful way the Russians would oppose the Poles, the British would oppose the Swedes, and the Danes would the Slovaks. Because, the Guardsmen know, if they collided somewhere in the real world, the world outside the speedway arena, the casualties would be in millions. Following this lesson in history and life, out came the racers, mounted on the passenger seats of motorcycles of some motorcycle club. I wonder if there was a joker among those bikers, wearing that T-shirt with the famous “If you can read this…” writing on the back? Anyway, after the opening ceremonies, the real action was all set to start.
The first four races were won by Greg Hancock, Jason Crump, Andreas Jonsson and Nicki Pedersen. After the short break to repair the track, the second round took place with Martin Vaculik, Chris Harris, Chris Holder and Andreas Jonsson taking victories. The home rider Jurica Pavlic took the third and then second place in the two races so far. Third round victories went to Harris, Jonsson, Crump and Pavlic. The fourth round went to Pedersen, Fredrik Lindgren, Tomasz Gollob and Hans Andersen and fifth and the last round of the main event victories went to Hancock, Gollob, Antonio Lindback and Emil Sayfutdinov.
The first semifinal race saw Pavlic taking the numero uno, again in front of Pedersen. The second semifinal race went to Gollob and Jonsson. Seeing Pavlic win the semifinal race, the home crowd went bananas. The final race was just a couple of minutes away and the suspense was thicker than a really thick suspense would be.
Unfortunately for young Pavlic, he finished last. The win went to the second man in championship standings Nicki Pedersen. Home favorite Pavlic entered the first corner on second place and continued losing a place a lap. A bit disappointing for the young Croat, but still a respectful result. Until next time.
Croatia is not a speedway nation by any standard, but it gave quite a show, of course, with a little help from speedway supporters gathered from almost every corner of the world. Such a great crowd compressed in such a small place and garnished with a scent of burning methanol and castor oil is really something to be experienced. Go fast, turn left? Yes, please!