The World Pairs Final 1979
"What a to do"
The only real upset from the Semi-Finals was the elimination of CZ , Jiri Stancl and Jan Verner. They were 4th behind Poland, New Zealand and the USA. Yes, the Yanks entered the competition with Bruce Penhall and Kelly Moran safely getting through. The World Final was staged at Ole Olsen's track, The Vojens Speedway Centre near Haderslev, Denmark. Ole was World Speedway Champion and Denmark had won last years World Cup. Ole was desperate for the Treble. And he had a new partner, a young man named Hans Nielsen. He had played quite a part in Denmark's World Cup win, 11 out of 12 points in fact Here was the one Ole hoped he could win with.
The Final date was Friday 22 June but in that week, Kelly Moran got badly smashed up and was out. With Scott Autrey banned by Mickey Mouse, whole other story, Steve Gresham was selected. The obvious choice was Penhall's Cradley team-mate Bobby Schwartz but that was not an option. Gresham got as far as Heathrow Airport where an air traffic controllers strike meant he never left the ground. So, Penhall was on his own. On the day of the Final, heavy rain fell throughout and it was still coming down near start time. Rain at Vojens? Whatever next?! With over 20,000 spectators 'sittin in the rain baby', the start was put back an hour. Then a riders meeting was called and it was decided to postpone until the next day. Ole was the only one against A stadium full of wet punters were not happy either
So, the Final was staged on Saturday 23, starting at midday. It still wasnt much of a day but rain would not be a problem. Even with the delay, Penhall still went solo. His efforts to get Ron Preston over also came to nothing. And what a day he had, four wins and two third places, beaten only by the Gold and Silver medalists An amazing performance, almost totally overlooked by the press. Local reserves Jens Henry Nielsen, brother of Hans, along with Holm and Klinge filled in for the USA. As for the rest?
Defending Champion Malcolm Simmons had his fourth new partner, Mike Lee. The Brit Superstar in every way, shape and form. They started well with a win over Finland. The Brits gated but Ila Teromaa got underneath and held the lead for a lap. Then his engine died and he was shunted out of the way. He got going again but lost power altogether, a sad start for a Flying Fnin. The Danes got a shock from Phil Crump in their first outing while the Brits then had a Kiwi BBQ. Larry Ross and Ivan Mauger taking a thrashing. The Danes had the same feed shortly after but Mauger was right up their exhaust pipes for the entire race. Ross being nowhere in sight.
Heat 8 saw the unbeaten Penhall V The Lions, who made the gate but Penhall took Simmo and went after Lee. Did not look at all convincing when he kept looking for his opponent and then on the last bend, went wider than Oz's big mouth and allowed Simmons through. Very much staged Larry Ross redeemed himself by beating the Aussies single handed. It was heat 10 and Mauger went from first to last on the first bend. He lost contact a bit later and pulled out. Heat 11 saw the Big Crunchie Bar; England V Denmark. Olsen gated from Simmons, Nielsen and Lee. Big upset in store for Ole as Simmo went past and Lee got Nielsen so a 4-2 by 'da Englanders'. Not many riders could take Olsen from behind like that. Super Sizzling Simmo
Penhall's next defeat by Denmark looked oh so much like another canned heat, going up the country Then the wheels fell off for England. Two ducks for Simmo putting Denmark and Poland in the drivers seats. Lee got by Crumpy after a brilliant scrap but he went down to Jancarz in their last round, only just squeezing out Plech over the line, photo finish. So England had 24 points. A 5-1 for Denmark would give them the Gold Medals by a point. A 5-1 for Poland would see them equal with England. And they met in the last heat. What a finale
Heat 21. Olsen gates and takes out Jancarz for Nielsen to come through. Ole then takes the lead leaving Hans to fend off the Poles. Jancarz' experience pays off and he takes Hans only for Ole to move over and block him out. Eddie wasnt finished and kept at it for the whole four laps. A blanket covered them into the last bend. On the exit, Ole looked and saw Hans with him but he couldnt see Jancarz blasting around the outside. It was the run to the flag, Ole waved a victory salute but Jancarz stormed by Nielsen to snatch second place on the line in a photo finish. Ole, glancing behind and seeing Hans right there, started celebrating. The referee, Tore Kittilsen from Norway quickly declared a 5-1 for Denmark and they were World Pairs Champions!!
TV replay showed Jancarz had the vital 2 points but that did not come into consideration. Simmo was furious,
"It was a con, the biggest I've ever seen in speedway."
He figured that with all the celebrations going on in the Danish camp in front of a mostly Danish crowd, Kittilsen was not about to spoil the party and declare the result 4-2 that would have meant a Gold Medal run-off, Denmark V England. Huge drama and one that Ole could not have cared less about, his dream had come true. The Poles had fought hard and thoroughly deserved the Bronze Medals. Finland however had a nightmare day, Niemi excluded for bringing down his partner Teromaa in round two. Teromaa unable to continue. Ahh the beauty of the World Final; what a theatre, what an act, what a to do!!
1 Lee Simmons Niemi Teromaa ef
1st Denmark 25
2nd England 24
3rd Poland 20
4th Australia 19
5th USA 14
6th New Zealand 12
7th Finland 7
This article was first published on 28th September 2014
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