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In the week Jason Crump made a shock return to racing, editor Paul Burbidge reels off 10 reasons we love the Aussie legend.

22 / 02 / 2020, 12:53

In the week Jason Crump made a shock return to racing with the Ipswich Witches, editor Paul Burbidge reels off 10 reasons why we love the Aussie legend.


1. Three world titles

We’ll start with the blindly obvious. Any rider who wins the FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Championship goes down in history. Winning it three times ensures Crump’s place among the sport’s greats.

He raced to his maiden title in 2004, before regaining the prize in 2006 and 2009 – defying serious upper arm injuries in the last of those three years to get the job done.

Crump is the only triple world champion representing Australia and remains their most decorated speedway rider.


2. 23 SGP wins

While Crump’s long-time rival Greg Hancock holds most SGP records, one the American doesn’t possess is most SGP wins.

JC is top of that chart on 23 – winning his first at the 1996 British SGP in Hackney and his last at the 2012 Danish SGP in Copenhagen – the year he initially retired from the sport.

With SGP victories spanning 17 seasons, there’s no doubt Crump was at the top of the game for a very long time.


3. 10 years in the top 3

Crump’s consistency is underlined by the fact he spent a record-equalling 10 straight seasons in the World Championship’s top three from 2001 to 2010.

Only five-time world champion Ove Fundin from Sweden, who reached the rostrum every year from 1956 to 1965, has matched that run.

In his stint on the medal box, Crump collected three world titles, five silver medals and two bronzes.


4. An SGP original

Hancock’s retirement from racing and Crump’s unexpected return mean he replaces the Californian as the last active rider to have appeared in the first-ever FIM Speedway Grand Prix series in 1995.

While Grin was a full member of the line-up, Crump made just one appearance, scoring 12 points at the British SGP in Hackney.

But Crump was an SGP full-timer in 1996 and Poland’s Piotr Protasiewicz – who scored three points at the Danish SGP – is the only other active rider to have appeared in the second season of the series.


5. Patience is a virtue

While three straight second places in the SGP World Championship is a phenomenal achievement, Crump was sick of silver by the end of 2003.

But he ended his quest to win the big one in 2004, when he sealed the title at the Norwegian SGP in Hamar.

It was also a special moment for his country as Crump became the first Australian winner since Jack Young lifted his second title in 1952 – a gap of 52 years. Good things come to those who wait.


6. King of the capitals

Crump won his 23 SGP rounds in seven different countries, and he’s clearly a man who enjoys tasting champagne in the big city, with 13 of his victories coming in capital cities.

JC enjoyed his greatest number of wins in Sweden and Britain – topping the podium five times in each country.

Two of his Swedish wins came in Stockholm. On top of that, three of his British SGP successes came in Welsh capital Cardiff in 2006, 2008 and 2009 – the last of those won with a seven-ride maximum. There was also that maiden win at Hackney, East London in his first full season.

Crump enjoyed a love affair with Prague’s Marketa Stadium, winning there three years on the trot from 2002 to 2004.

But the venue where he enjoyed his most SGP wins was Copenhagen’s PARKEN stadium, where he topped the box four times.


7. Passing the torch

On the night Crump originally hung up his race suit at the 2012 Torun SGP, he had one final parting gift to Australian speedway.

When Chris Holder and Nicki Pedersen tangled on the first turn of their semi-final clash, with the world title on the line, the Dane did his best to stir up the Sydneysider ahead of the re-run, before the pair nearly came to blows when Holder’s younger brother Jack attempted to act as peacemaker.

In a moment Chris desperately needed to restore calm for the biggest heat of his life, Crump stepped in, escorted his young compatriot away from the heat of confrontation and into a quiet room beneath the stand to help him re-focus.

It clearly did the trick as Holder made the start in the re-run and stormed clear to become Australia’s fifth world champion. It was an ending to a dramatic SGP season only speedway could write.


8. Man on the mic

During his break from professional racing, Crump has shown he isn’t just talented on the track – he’s pretty good in the commentary box too.

JC made a number of appearances on the SGP world feed, commentating on the Australian SGP in Melbourne and serving as pits reporter. He has also commentated on live feeds from the Australian Championship in recent years.

His breathless insight into the action sees Crump steer clear of spouting commentary clichés and truly educate the casual viewer as to what’s happening and, more interestingly, why.

Few know the mindset of a champion better and we can only hope Crump gets more opportunities behind the mic when he can fit them in.


9. Coach Crump

On his return to racing, one of the most heartening comments Crump made was his willingness to help the younger members of the Ipswich team.

Whether the 44-year-old piles up the points for the Witches remains to be seen, although there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t.

But his off-track impact could be even greater. Senior members of the side like Danny King, Nicolai Klindt and Nicolas Covatti can use Crump as a sounding board if and when things aren’t going to plan. Young guns like Drew Kemp, Jake Allen and Cameron Heeps have the ultimate role model to learn from.

In an era where fewer and fewer top-line stars compete full-time in the UK, Crump’s return is a golden opportunity for youngsters to watch Crump, learn from him and pick his brains for tips as they target the top.


10. He’s back!

Lastly, how could we not admire Crump desire to get back on a bike at the age of 44! After a hugely successful career, it’s not something he had to do. He’s here because he wants to be.

Crump may have been out of the game for seven seasons, but it’s unlikely his competitiveness or professionalism will have left him – he won’t be doing this just for fun.

How long the comeback lasts and how far Crump progresses remains to be seen. But it would be no surprise if there were calls from Poland and/or Sweden if he started piling up the points.

With Rybnik, in particular, lacking a leader following Hancock’s retirement, he could become one of the sport’s hottest free agents on the continent.

But for now, Crump is racing exclusively in the UK, and his presence alone looks set to boost attendances up and down the country.


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