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Speedway: Holder claims world title
CHRIS Holder tonight claimed his maiden world title after a dramatic meeting in Torun.
The Pirates captain, who lives in Bearwood, edged out Nicki Pedersen after both men had reached the semi-finals in Poland.
And after Holder controversially took his place in a re-run following a clash with Pedersen in their semi, the Aussie held his nerve to win the heat with Pedersen back in third.
The Poole spearhead made a superb start to the night by claiming heat victories from his opening two rides.
The Aussie battled hard from gate two in race four to win, before making the gate in the red helmet in heat six to secure a tapes-to-flag triumph.
Main rival Pedersen, meanwhile, two adrift of Holder going into the final round, could only manage two points from his opening two heats.
Holder was forced wide from gate four in race 11 but managed to slip up the inside of Chris Harris on turn three of lap one.
But the Sydneysider had to settle for third, opening the door for Pedersen in the next race.
And the Dane didn't disappoint, charging hard from the outside gate to win and close the gap behind Holder to four points in the overall standings.
The draw placed Holder and Pedersen together in race 13 and it was Holder who burst from gate three in front of the wily Dane.
With Holder way out in front, Pedersen was hanging on for two points.
Pedersen struggled again heat 18, with the impressive Maciej Janowski keeping the Dane at bay and stranded in third place.
With Freddie Lindgren in third in heat 19, Pedersen crept into the semi-finals on count back, while Holder charged around the outside of Andreas Jonsson in race 20 to bank two more points and take a six-point lead over Pedersen into the knockout heats.
Both men were paired alongside Emil Sayfutdinov and Antonio Lindback in semi-final two, with Holder opting for gate one having had first pick. Pedersen ended up with gate two.
Holder, though, clattered Pedersen coming off turn one of the first lap of the semi, but referee Craig Ackroyd opted to bring back all four riders after the Dane hit the shale.
Then things turned ugly after Holder's pit crew became involved in an on-track scuffle with Pedersen, with both riders squaring up.
Holder was pulled away and taken inside the stadium by Jason Crump, with the elder Aussie trying to calm down the Pirates skipper.
And Crump's timely intervention appeared to work, with Holder storming out of gate one in front of Pedersen in the re-run to win the semi-final and clinch his first world title at the age of 25.
Ironically, Holder suffered a mechanical failure when leading the final, with Lindback claiming the GP win.
Fittingly, 2011 world champion Greg Hancock gave Holder a lift back to the rostrum.