Hancock and Woffinden fighting hand injuries in race for 2014 FIM Speedway Grand Prix Championship
FIM Speedway World Championship leader Greg Hancock is ready to battle through the pain barrier as he bids to defy a broken and burnt clutch hand and seal title No.3.
The 44-year-old double world champion is fighting his way back to fitness for the Nordic FIM Speedway Grand Prix at Danish track Vojens on Saturday after being involved in an horrific crash in Gorzow on August 30.
Hancock’s left hand was dragged under Niels-Kristian Iversen’s rear mudguard, breaking his index finger and leaving the middle one dislocated. Tyre burns added further to his pain.
After having the middle finger reset in Poland, Hancock underwent surgery in Gothenburg last week to fix the index one.
He says his recovery is progressing slowly but surely and he is determined to take to the track and defend his 14-point advantage over defending champion, Great Britain’s Tai Woffinden, at the top of the standings.
Hancock said: “They fixed the middle finger in Poland. They said the break didn’t look that bad, but I went back to Sweden and went to the hand specialist in Gothenburg – a great friend of ours – and they said ‘no, we need to do a little work on that finger.’
“They operated and put it all back together and now I’m in the healing process. I can move all the fingers and I’m just moving the index finger slowly. It gets better every day.
“The plan is to be in Vojens on Friday. It probably won’t be the most pleasant of feelings I’ve had over the years, but it could be a heck of a lot worse to say the least.
“The fingers are working fine. I’m not using the index finger much right now. I’m just trying to let it do its thing. I’m moving it slowly but surely. A lot of stuff has happened to it in the last couple of weeks.
“I had a burn from the tyre, which came through my glove. That has been the most painful part of the whole thing lately. The fingers are not nice, but the burn has been awful.
“The risk of infection is quite high, so they’ve got me on some pretty strong antibiotics. That made my stomach feel good for a couple of days – not!”
Having never missed an SGP round since the series was launched in 1995, Hancock has been undergoing intense physiotherapy to ensure he races in his 178th straight round on Saturday.
But he accepts the Nordic SGP could prove to be one of his toughest meetings in two decades on the sport’s biggest stage.
He said: “I want to say that I’m going to be 100 percent and I’m going to kick everyone’s ass. But you never know until you get on the bike and give it a shot. I’m positive and I’m confident.
“It’s not going to be a pain-free ride – that’s for sure. I’ve got to do what my body tells me to do at the time.
“I’m doing physio on my hand – I’m having it twice daily. I’m resting it, but I’m still doing my regular exercise programme. The only thing I’m not doing is riding my speedway bike, which is out of the ordinary. Other than that, life goes on and I’m just chasing the dream.”
Hancock’s nearest rival Woffinden is also nursing a broken left hand and faces a race against time to be fit for Vojens. The two-time British champion has been having daily treatment with Aldridge-based sports injury specialist Steve Williams.
And the Wolverhampton star has revealed the main problem is subluxed metacarpal joints – the medical term for knuckles that have moved.
He hasn’t raced for almost three weeks since being involved in a horrifying crash in an Elite League match at Eastbourne on August 23 when he demolished three fence panels.
And he said: “I literally couldn’t have done anything more and if I don’t make it in Vojens on Saturday then at least I can look in the mirror and know I have given it my best.
“The focus of attention has moved away from the fractures because they’re not the main problem for me. We have to deal with the third and fourth knuckles on the left hand.
“I’ve been having daily treatment, I’ve been eating properly and I’ve still been going to the gym on a regular basis and putting some hard work in on the lower part of my body.
“I will say that I need to see how I am on Friday whether I practice or not and whether I feel I can ride in the meeting. It’s all about whether the pain is manageable and also whether I feel I can control the bike without being a danger to myself and the other guys.
“Of course I’m desperate to get back racing and I want to ride in Vojens, but I think people know me well enough now to trust me to make the right call on this.
“I’ve been having all sorts of treatment and I feel good in myself, but it’s all about whether I can control the clutch and whether I can ride the bike well enough over four laps of a speedway race.”
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Greg Hancock 112, 2 Tai Woffinden 98, 3 Nicki Pedersen 93, 4 Krzysztof Kasprzak 92, 5 Matej Zagar 91, 6 Niels-Kristian Iversen 87, 7 Darcy Ward 75, 8 Chris Holder 70, 9 Fredrik Lindgren 69, 10 Troy Batchelor 66, 11 Martin Smolinski 64, 12 Jaroslaw Hampel 63, 13 Kenneth Bjerre 60, 14 Andreas Jonsson 59, 15 Chris Harris 35, 16 Michael Jepsen Jensen 31, 17 Bartosz Zmarzlik 17, 18 Peter Kildemand 15, 19 Kasts Puodzuks 10, 20 Peter Ljung 7, 21 Adrian Miedzinski 5, 22 Joonas Kylmakorpi 5, 23 Kauko Nieminen 4, 24 Andzejs Lebedevs 3, 25 Jason Bunyan 2, 26 Vaclav Milik 2, 27 Craig Cook 2, 28 Adrian Cyfer 2, 29 Lukasz Kaczmarek 2.