ITALIAN JOB DONE FOR ANTON
Sunday 12th August 2012, 00:29
Antonio Lindback ended his eight-year wait for an SGP gold medal after triumphing in the FIM Fogo Italian Speedway Grand Prix at Terenzano on Saturday and admitted “that means absolutely everything.”
The Rio de Janeiro-born Swedish international made his World Championship debut in the FIM Scandinavian SGP in Gothenburg on August 21, 2004. Despite scoring two points, he was already being billed as a future world champion and Grand Prix winner.
He has been battling to live up to those perilously high expectations since then. But Lindback’s natural talent has never been in question and he delivered his maiden SGP gold medal by leading home Emil Sayfutdinov and world champion Greg Hancock in the final.
The Rio Rocket has had to deal with fans, coaches and the media telling him how many points he should be scoring for so many years.
The 27-year-old made his name in the sport as a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky livewire and he admits taking a more laidback approach in the Italian sunshine paid off big time.
"I just went out there, had a good time, I was relaxed, I listened to music and I was myself. It worked and Iâ€™m going to keep doing that."
- Antonio Lindback
He said: “When I came into this meeting, I was more relaxed than normal. I just went out there and had big fun. I wanted to be myself and not think about scores and taking three points, three points.
“I took one race at a time. The guys from Monster were standing there every time I won a race, screaming and shouting – that’s good for me.
“I’ve listened a little bit too much to everybody; people say ‘you must score, you must do well.’ I didn’t listen to people. I just went out there, had a good time, I was relaxed, I listened to music and I was myself. It worked and I’m going to keep doing that.
“Finally I have taken that gold. I proved to myself that I am one of the guys who should be in the Grand Prix and I can win. That means absolutely everything. I’m just so happy.”
Lindback had a big slice of fortune in the final as the race was restarted when Martin Vaculik had a coming together with Sayfutdinov on turn one and was thrown over his handlebars.
The Slovak was excluded from the restart and Lindback, who missed the gate first time around, took full advantage of his second bite at the cherry.
He said: “That helped me. In the first start I was lifting a little bit and in the second one, I went there to make it. I didn’t have anything to lose. I just had everything to win. I went for it and I did it.”
Lindback’s triumph leaves him ninth in the World Championship on 62 points – eight adrift of fellow countryman Andreas Jonsson, who occupies the eighth and final automatic qualification berth for 2013.
With four rounds to race, the Indianerna and Gniezno rider knows he can close the gap. “I’m just going to keep working and I’ll be up there,” he pledged.
Runner-up Sayfutdinov was over the moon to have reached his first SGP final of 2012. Despite making five out of the seven SGP semis going into the Terenzano event, the Russian’s luck had continually deserted him at the business end of the meetings.
So he was delighted to reap the rewards of a consistent season and hopes to keep piling up points.
He said: “I’m very happy. It was a hard meeting because I was using a new engine. All the time I’m trying new ones and I think we’re finding some good stuff.
“I think the Grand Prix is very tough. I want to score points in every Grand Prix. I’m not thinking about podiums right now. I’m just thinking about points.”
Hancock is 10 points clear of second-placed Nicki Pedersen in the World Championship race on 111. The Dane has 101, Jason Crump in third has 97 and Chris Holder has 94.
With none of his nearest rivals reaching the last four, Herbie was pleased to tighten his grip on top spot. And he admits staying on top of his bike setup made all the difference.
He said: “We felt the bike was going well all night and we were making small changes all the time.
“It’s a special surface, the track is extremely long and the corners come up really fast. With that slippery surface, it’s so difficult for the tyre to grab the ground and there’s an art to it. I don’t think anyone has the perfect setup for this place – it’s a game, it’s a battle and you’ve got to fight to the end.”
Next up for the SGP elite is world speedway’s flagship event – the FIM Fogo British Speedway Grand Prix in Cardiff on August 25. Hancock won the meeting in 2011 and would love to complete back-to-back successes at the Millennium Stadium.
He added: “I’m looking forward to that – I think everybody is. There is so much hype about Cardiff. If you haven’t been there, you’ve got to go. It really is something special.”
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Greg Hancock 111, 2 Nicki Pedersen 101, 3 Jason Crump 97, 4 Chris Holder 94, 5 Emil Sayfutdinov 84, 6 Tomasz Gollob 83, 7 Fredrik Lindgren 77, 8 Andreas Jonsson 70, 9 Antonio Lindback 62, 10 Jaroslaw Hampel 46, 11 Chris Harris 46, 12 Peter Ljung 44, 13 Hans Andersen 43, 14 Martin Vaculik 42, 15 Kenneth Bjerre 41, 16 Bjarne Pedersen 41, 17 Bartosz Zmarzlik 13, 18 Jurica Pavlic 12, 19 Tomas H Jonasson 11, 20 Josef Franc 9, 21 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 7, 22 Michael Jepsen Jensen 7, 23 Mikkel B Jensen 4, 24 Nicolas Covatti 3, 25 Peter Kildemand 2, 26 Jason Bunyan 1.
TERENZANO SCORES: 1 Antonio Lindback 16, 2 Emil Sayfutdinov 19, 3 Greg Hancock 14, 4 Martin Vaculik 14, 5 Jason Crump 10, 6 Chris Holder 10, 7 Nicki Pedersen 10, 8 Andreas Jonsson 8, 9 Peter Ljung 8, 10 Chris Harris 8, 11 Kenneth Bjerre 6, 12 Tomasz Gollob 6, 13 Fredrik Lindgren 5, 14 Hans Andersen 4, 15 Nicolas Covatti 3, 16 Bjarne Pedersen 3, 17 Michele Paco Castagna DNR, 18 Nicolas Vincentin DNR.
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- 24/05: HARRIS RUMOURS SLAMMED
- 24/05: EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT ON KING'S LYNN TICKETS
- 24/05: PUK PUZZLED BY SGP FORM
- 23/05: NICKI OUT OF DANISH FINAL
- 23/05: HANCOCK LEADS AMERICAN ASSAULT
- 23/05: TRIALS ICON BOU SET FOR CARDIFF
- 22/05: NO SIX-POINTERS SUITS SAYFUTDINOV
- 22/05: DREAM CARDIFF CALL FOR ALES
- 22/05: NICKI'S TITLE BID IN BALANCE