Ivan Mauger, Hans Nielsen. World Finals.
If you don't like history or stats, now is the time to exit, stage left. What brought all this on? Lee Ashby's interviews. Magic son, magic! Having listened to Hans Nielsen, I thought it would be fun to compare his World Finals with those of Ivan Mauger. Especially as Ivan's last appearance was 1979 and Hans debut was 1980. Well, I'm no detectorist but I did unearth some treasure. It goes like this.
Ivan Mauger. 4.10.39 Twenty eight, winning first World Final.
Hans Nielsen. 26.12.59 Twenty six, winning first World Final.
They both rode in 14 World Finals. Ivan was on the podium 10 times and Hans 9.
Ivan. 6 Gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze.
Hans. 3 Gold, 5 silver and 1 bronze.
Ivan is the only rider to win the World Final 3 years in a row, The Triple Crown. Hans got closer to equalling that, than anyone else, winning 2 then scoring the same points as the winner, losing the run-off.
They were both involved with 5 run-offs and both faced a member of the Louis family. Ivan V John and Hans V Chris, John's son.
Ivan wins 3, loses 2.
1971 silver V Bengt Jansson. Won.
Hans wins 2, loses 3.
1985 Gold V Erik Gundersen & Sam Ermolenko. Lost to Gundersen.
Ivan scored 176 points.
Hans scored 171.
Ivan's biggest opponent of the 70's was Ole Olsen. With respect to Anders Michanek and Peter Collins. Here are their 9 races;
1970. Heat 12. IVAN, Anders Michanek, Valeri Klementiev, OLE. This was Ole's debut.
Ivan 5, Ole 4. Howzat?!
Hans biggest opponent of the 80's was Erik Gundersen. With respect to Bruce Penhall, Sam Ermolenko and Jan O Pedersen. Here are their 11 races;
1981. Heat 17. ERIK, HANS, Edward Jancarz, Chris Morton. This was Erik's debut.
Erik 8, Hans 3. WOT?!
In his 14 World Finals, Ivan is in the record books with only one engine failure. 1976. Heat 5. Phil Crump, Zenon Plech, Egon Muller. IVAN ef. Then there was 1978, heat 4 where the bike was stopping fast and if he had not fallen, he would have had to pull out. Or if somehow it kept going, John Titman would have gone by. So really, two engine failures in 75 World Final races were amazing.
Similarly, in Hans 14 World Finals, he too is recorded as having just one engine failure. And that was a broken primary chain in 1983. Heat 19. Egon Muller, Mitch Shirra, Toni Kasper. HANS ef. Other record books say 'retired' and that is a better description as it was not the engine that failed. Like Mauger, there was one other heat where mechanical issues played a part. 1987 Day 1. Heat 1. Jimmy Nilsen, Simon Cross, HANS. Gerd Riss f/ex. This time, it was an issue with the clutch. So, in Hans 80 World Final races, two mechanical issues were just as amazing. Remember, he got 5 extra races than Ivan because of the 1987 Double-Dutch affair.
Now of course, Hans should have, would have, made more than 14 appearances. It was recovering from injury that knocked him out of the 1992 Final. Fully fit, no-one would have bet against him not making it to Wroclaw. Then came the World Championship Grand Prix from 1995. Again, no-one would say he would not have made it to more World Finals and his GPs, big meetings and league form over the next 5 years more or less proves that. Having won the first ever GP, Hans is 4 times World Speedway Champion. And he won another silver and bronze medal.
I have not gone into detail about Hans and Ivan partnering up in the 80s, sticking it to Ole and Erik because for me, there is no interest. But I found comparing Hans 14 World Finals to Ivan's was great fun and I hope you enjoyed it too. Who knows, one of these topics may come up on University Challenge. Pub?
This article was first published on 27th December 2020
"Tracy does it again! What a really interesting comparison from different eras, and a rather good way of looking at how Ivan & Hans stacked up against each other, even though they never competed against each other at a World Final. More of this, please."
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