A protest delayed the Australia-New Zealand speedway clash at Wimbledon Stadium on Thursday night (5 July).
A protest delayed the Australia-New Zealand speedway clash at Wimbledon Stadium on Thursday night (5 July). Australian team manager Sam Bass claimed New Zealander Barry Briggs was using illegal "nitro" fuel, and racing was stopped for 20 minutes while it was replaced. Speedway Control Board scientists will examine the suspect fuel, and if it's found Briggs was using an additive, he'll lose points and face disciplinary action. After the delay, New Zealand went on to win the event, 50 points to Australia's 28. On the same night, England went to the top of the points table with a 56-21 win over the Soviet Union.
The international series is one of the most spectacular speedway tournaments ever staged in Britain. Countries represented include the Soviet Union, Poland, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and Norway-Denmark. The tournament is being held over 19 days, with the grand final at Wembley on July 14. It's the first time the world's seven top speedway nations have entered a World Cup style competition.
SYNOPSIS: The Australia-New Zealand clash in the international speedway tournament was off to a flying start at Wimbledon Stadium on Thursday night. In heat one, four times world champion Ivan Mauger from New Zealand clashed with the Australian national title holder, Johnny Boulger, from Adelaide.
The heat, like all in the tournament, was over four laps from a clutch start, and Mauger showed his championship form to outclass the Australian. Frank Shuter of New Zealand was third, and Australia's Geoff Curtis, fourth.
Although the opening went off without a hitch, that record wasn't maintained.
A protest from Australia delayed racing at one stage for more than 20 minutes. Centre of the storm was New Zealander Barry Briggs. Australian manager Sam Bass claimed Briggs was using illegal fuel, and racing was curtailed until the suspect fuel was replaced.
There was also trouble in heat two. Graeme Stapleton from New Zealand fell. Australian rider John Titman lost control of his machine and followed Stapleton into the shale.
The crash wasn't serious, and both riders continued racing. Briggs was back in business for the start of heat six. As far as he was concerned, the Australian claim about his fuel was "rubbish", and after the controversy he went on to score ten points for his team. However, in this race, he met his match, in the form of Geoff Curtis.
The New Zealanders kept the pressure on the Australian riders, and eventually won -- 50 points to 28. The tournament is being raced over 19 days with seven nations competing. The final is at Wembley on July 14.