Racing in the UK is ‘an important education’ - Witches star Crump
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Three-time world speedway champ JASON CRUMP hopes to return to the UK to ride for the Ipswich Witches in 2020. He told Mike Bacon the British scene still has much to offer, when racing restarts
Jason Crump has said he feels riding in the UK is still an important education for any speedway rider.
The Queensland-based racer, 44, hopes to return to the UK scene with Ipswich Witches – if any sort of season is possible this year – having not competed full-time since hanging up his kevlars after the 2012 Torun SGP of Poland.
It’s been a big decision for the former three-time World Champion and a terrific coup for the Witches.
However, he returns to UK speedway knowing that many top names no longer grace British circuits. Something Crump, who rode regularly in the UK for almost two decades, doesn’t fully understand.
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“Well, if I’m being absolutely honest with you, I still think it’s very important for riders to ride in England,” he said.
“It’s the only country in the world where you can go from, say Ipswich on a Monday to Peterborough on a Thursday – two totally different tracks.
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“You go back when I was riding in the UK. You had so many different tracks.
“You could go from riding Lakeside on a Friday night to Bradford the next night. You couldn’t get two bigger extremes of track than those two.
“It was tough speedway. It was an education. An important education.
“Don’t get me wrong, tracks in Poland are fantastic. There are lots of good tracks, great stadiums. And ok, the tracks in Poland are not all the same but they are all very similar. They are big, fast, wide. Every track in Poland has plenty of space on it, well almost.
“You don’t get the Lakeside/Bradford experience in Poland. It just doesn’t happen.
“As far as development for riders goes, I still say England is where you get most education.
“I was talking to young Drew Kemp recently and he said; ‘Oh there’s this track up north and it’s the worst track which has a big dip going into the third bend’.
“I said to him; ‘Yes, it’s probably the same dip that I rode into back in 1992!
“It’s there, you know it’s there and you have to adapt. You have to learn. As far as I’m concerned it’s far better to learn on non-ideal tracks than just racing at Torun each week, which is probably one of the best tracks in the world.
“If you look at world champions over the decades, Jerzy Szczakiel, back in the early 70s and Bartosz Zmarzlik last year are the only two riders not to have much UK experience. All the rest inbetween have. That says it all.”
Meanwhile Crump, who is now back in Australia, did manage to get a few laps around Foxhall Stadium before the coronavirus lockdown.
It was his first taste of the newly-shaped Suffolk circuit. But he left impressed.
“Ipswich was always one of those tracks that I thought, if I could go to Ipswich and score good points, I could go anywhere and score good points. It was always a tricky, tough track.
“For me Ipswich always felt like a small track. It was tight down the back straight.
“The entry into the third bend was very tight and sharp exiting the corner to hold a line coming out of the fourth bend. But I noticed at practice day there was a lot more room going into that third bend and because I haven’t actually raced on it yet, I reckon it makes the track faster.
“If anything it is now a bit easier for the away riders to get used to I imagine.”
Crump is looking forward to starting up his season with the Witches and admits he has been getting itchy in Australia, not being able to wait to get started.
“I’m really excited about coming to Ipswich,” he added. “Hopefully it starts soon as I’m getting pretty bored here in Australia!
“It was a huge decision to decide to ride again. But everything fell into place. Probably seven or eight things had to do so, but one by one every duck lined up.
“I’ve met the riders in the team now. It’s a great bunch. A good atmosphere with Chris at the helm, Ritchie Hawkins as the team manager.
“And of course when I started in England as a 16-year-old on loan at Peterborough, Ritchie’s dad Kevin (Hawkins) was my team manager.
“So I’ve come full circle with Ritchie now my team boss at Ipswich.”