WORLD DRIVING CHAMPIONSHIP REVIEW

09:57 PM 19 Jun 2005 NZST
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Only nine points separate the top three drivers following the first round of the 2005 World Driving Championship, contested at the Agano Racetrack in Naples on Saturday night (June 18).

Sweden’s Erik Adielsson, who won the first of for races contested on Saturday, has the lead with 43 points, and is followed by Andy Miller, representing the United States, who won the second of the four races on Saturday, and was narrowly beaten on one other.

Third in the Standings is Canada’s Jody Jamieson, who defeated Miller in race two, in the very last strides.

The Agano Racetrack is a 1000 meter circuit -- nearly five-eighths miles in length -- which accommodates eight starters behind the starting gate, meaning each of the four heats featured trailers in posts nine and ten.

All four races in opening round were contested at 1,600 meters -- about 40 feet short of a metric mile.

A total of 20 races will be contested in the series, which will concluded in Rome on Friday, June 24.

In each race, points are earned on a 17-12-9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis, the title of World Champion will go to the driver with the most points at the end.

In the first of the four races on Saturday, Adielsson was a clear winner, and defeated Austria’s Gerhard Mayer and Germany’s Heinz Wewering.

In that heat, Miller couldn’t find room to get out with less than 500 meters remaining, and finished fifth, and Jamieson’s mount could only manage a ninth place finish.

In the second division, Andy Miller put his mount, Cavaliere di Mara, a 6-Year-Old by Host Of Waverly on the lead at the start, turned back a strong challenge by Gerhard Myer with 1000 metres remaining, and scored an easy win.

Upon returning to the winner’s enclosure, Miller was greeted by a cheering throng, who are visiting Italy on a tour sponsored by the U.S. Trotting Association, and was smiling as broadly as if he had just swept the Illinois Super Night Card.

“The trainer said ‘he’s best on the front,’” Miller said after accepting the trophy and the well wishes of his countrymen, and wife, Julie.

“He (the trainer) also said he had a lot of speed, and he was right.”

Adielsson finished second, Wewering finished third, and Jamieson’s horse broke and was disqualified.

In the third dash, Miller appeared, after a good, two-hole trip and a move on the final turn, to be the winner with only 50 meters remaining, but Jamieson came flying on the outside and beat his rival in the final three strides, by a neck. Wewering finished in the show position, and Adielsson finished a distant sixth.

In the fourth and final heat, local hero Roberto Andreghetti let the others fight for the early lead, and then finished a clear winner over Jamieson.

Wewering finished second, and Adielsson finished third. Miller, who drew post position eight in the fourth division, saw his horse break stride after the mid-way point of the race, and they finished 10th and last.

On Sunday, the drivers will travel to Pescara, Italy, which is on the east coast, along the Adriatic Sea, to contest four more divisions.

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The weather in Naples was stifling, and temperatures were in the middle 80s.

A light rain before the races didn’t seem to affect the action, but helped elevated the already high humidity.

The races are being seen across Italy, via the sport’s simulcast network, but the local authorities did not put forth much in the way of pomp and circumstance surrounding the series, although they did bow to sporting custom and played the winner’s national anthem at the end of each division -- although the blaze’ Italians pretty much ignored the music and went about the business of handicapping the next race and finding a panini sandwich and another glass of wine.

Courtesy Of John Pawlak, United States Trotting Association Publicity/Public Relations Director

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