By Henry Chard
Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches rider Jason Crump will compete in the British Final at Foxhall Stadium on Saturday 26th September after he was given a ‘wildcard’ by the British Speedway Promoters Ltd.
Crump will join teammates Danny King and Drew Kemp in the showpiece event and says he is not putting himself under any pressure as he looks to see how he fares in his first official competitive outing in Britain since he announced his retirement in 2012.
“I’m in the UK, I have come back to ride, we all know everything that has happened this year, it has been frustrating with one thing and another,” said Crump. “Ipswich is my new home track and why not take the opportunity to go and have a run out against the best guys that are going to be available to race at that time?
“I think it is definitely worthwhile, personally I am not putting any pressure on myself to do anything. I have not raced against guys of this calibre for a quite a while. I have got no expectations, no predictions, nothing to gain from this meeting except than I get to get out and hopefully race against some good riders and I want to see where I stand.”
Born in Bristol, Crump has represented Australia during his professional career and is thankful for the opportunity to ride with some British riders either unable to ride or having decided not to ride.
“I don’t want Craig Cook, for example, to be annoyed with me because he doesn’t have a spot in the British Final because I have taken it. I have got full respect for Craig that he feels he needs more time to prepare, I fully understand that. The way I look at it is that without Tai Woffinden and Robert Lambert riding in the meeting we basically all sit in the same chair, don’t we?
“Danny hasn’t been riding, Rory (Schlein) hasn’t been riding, Chris Harris hasn’t been riding, we are all sitting around wanting to get on our bikes and we are all starting from scratch. It is like turning the clock back to March, it will be your first meeting of the season, but we are in September. I am happy to be in and I appreciate the opportunity to ride and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we can get as many people as humanly possible in there for the show and it will be a decent beginning for the season that never was.”
The three-time world champion is hoping to get some track time in ahead of the event and reiterated that he has no expectations on himself to win the meeting and become the first overseas winner since New Zealand’s Ivan Mauger in 1972.
“It is important for me at this stage that I get back out on track. I rode some laps at Scunthorpe the other day, but I’ll be planning to get some laps in over the next week if I can, but it depends on what is going on.
“I don’t have an expectation for anything other than to go there and have a ride and I am absolutely genuine with that. It is the opportunity for me to get onto the bikes. I rode them at press day in March, I had a run out at Scunthorpe, and I am hoping to get some more rides in the next week or so. It is all about that for me.
“Winning meetings at 45 years old is not really something I have never thought about. Honestly, even when I came back to ride for Ipswich, I am riding as part of the Tru Plant Witches, I am not riding as Jason Crump. I haven’t had that run out, I am working on my bike as we speak and am getting ready for it.”
The three-time World Cup winner believes that due to the circumstances the showpiece event may feel a little different to normal, with riders just glad to be out on track in a competitive environment.
“We are not going for the wildcard spot at Cardiff like is normally the prize at the British Final. For me, and I hope most of the riders treat it the same, it probably won’t be treated like a normal British Final would be for most of the riders. It is going to be treated as a meeting that you want to go to and have a ride and I hope with the limited track time that the majority of riders have had so far this year, I hope that everybody does do that.”
Like everyone, the new Witches signing has been frustrated with how the year has panned out but has been in the UK since July to help his son Seth, as he competes in the HEL Performance British Junior Supersport Championship.
“I think I echo everybody, not just in speedway but everybody in the world has suffered and is suffering from this. We have just got to try and make the best of whatever situation arises. It is frustrating but everybody is in the same boat. I’m sure globally, the biggest emotion people have at the moment is frustration just wanting to get on with their day to day lives and make the most of a year that has really gone missing. It has just been a difficult year for mankind.
“We came back at the end of July, the BSB organisation have done a good job with getting their series underway and there are obviously restrictions, basically no crowd and lots of extra restrictions to follow during the event. They have had three so far and everyone has followed the restrictions. There are less rounds to be run than originally planned but most definitely they have done a fantastic job to get things on in the circumstances.”
Digital Media Manager at Ipswich Speedway