Cardiff prepares for Emil's arrival
Saturday 27 June 2009
The FIM Speedway Grand Prix series makes its annual visit to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff tonight for the British Grand Prix. Cardiff has become an annual pilgrimage for speedway fans from all over the globe, it is the biggest event that the sport has. "It's our Monaco" says series leader Jason Crump.
When the tapes go up at around 5:15pm there will be a deafening roar and a blast of some 40,000 air horns, creating a noise that you suspect could be heard as far away as Swansea.
While the three British riders, Scott Nicholls, Chris Harris and Edward Kennett will get the loudest and most heartfelt cheers of the night, many eyes will be on the diminutive frame of a 19-year-old Tartar from the edge of Russia called Emil Sayfutdinov, who happens to be the most talked about person in the sport right now.
Emil is the only rider in the sport's history to have won the Under-21 world championship twice, and he is also the only rider to have won on his grand prix debut, which he followed up with a second win in his third grand prix.
He is clearly talented, and will be making his debut on British soil. Crump is a two-time world champion and said: "Any boy who can come in, and he is still a teenager, and clean up in his very first grand prix is something special. He has exceptional balance and also exceptional speed. He's also been very clever in the build-up to his career in that he's put a great team of mechanics in place around him."
Twice in four grand prix Emil – as he has already rather unsurprisingly become known – has come into contact with reigning world champion Nicki Pedersen. Both times they have hit the deck and both times Pedersen has been excluded. There are clear signs that Emil has the teak-hard Dane worried.
Pedersen needs a big night if he is to get his quest for a third consecutive world title back on track. "Jason has a huge lead," he said, "but it's not the same as saying I give up. I will do everything to put pressure on him in Cardiff."
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