Aussies for the cup
Nigel Pearson thinks Australia could be ready to celebrate their first Speedway World Cup win for ten years.
Last Updated: 06/07/12 5:34pm
It's that time of year again when we know the action won't let us down... yes, it's the Speedway World Cup.
And it's slightly different this year with the nation hosting the latter stages going straight to the final so we won't see Sweden until Saturday, July 14.
That's brought a mixed reaction from their camp. A lot of riders prefer to race and it can only be hoped from a Swedish perspective that their riders get lots of practice in before the final.
Remember, one of the teams in the final, the winners of the race-off, will be heading into their third event of the tournament on that night - Sweden won't have even turned a wheel in anger.
The beauty of the SWC for me is that you have riders who are rivals in league racing and the Grand Prix who come together to race for their country.
I'd like to think a lot of it is down to the pride element of riding for your nation, but sometimes it's all about the guy next to you in the pits not scoring more than you.
The absence of Jarek Hampel from the Polish side is a major blow and they have lost Janusz Kolodziej with a broken thumb, but I still expect them to reach the final.
But my favourites for the title are Australia - with our without Darcy Ward. The good aspect for the Aussies is that Troy Batchelor, who was awesome in last year's tournament, has come good once again and he piled up for the points for Swindon in their home win over Lakeside just before the tournament started.
You know what you are going to get from Chris Holder and Jason Crump. Grand Prix regulars who both have a shout of the world title this year.
Davey Watt is the man for the big occasion and I'm sure he will play a superb supporting role to the GP boys. Batchelor will be a perfect replacement if, as I suspect, Ward finds the meeting too soon after his brioken hand.
As for Great Britain, I believe we will have to settle for the runners-up spot in the qualifier at King's Lynn. To beat the powerhouse Aussies it needs everything to go our way and things to go wrong for Australia. It's not going to happen.
So I suspect a place in the race-off is the best we can hope for, the same with USA with the fairytale story of Billy Hamill and Greg Hancock back together.
It's going to be special once again - but I'll go for Australia to win the tournament with Sweden runners-up.
If you would like to hear more from Nigel Pearson you can follow him on Twitter - @nigelpearson