Jason Doyle closing in on Hancock in Speedway GP World Title chase
Aussie racer Jason Doyle admitted “that’s the hardest I’ve worked for any race” after snatching victory in a final thriller to win the MIB Nordic Gorzow FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Poland on Saturday.
After an epic contest with World Championship rival Tai Woffinden for four laps, the Newcastle-born racer got the better of the Brit with a stunning last-bend swoop to win his second SGP of 2016.
The Mitas Czech SGP winner and Woffinden were joined on the rostrum by third-placed Chris Holder, who overhauled home hero Bartosz Zmarzlik for third place in one of the best finals in recent memory.
Doyle’s victory saw him slash Greg Hancock’s World Championship lead from 12 points to seven, and he jumps into second spot on 87 points – a point ahead of Woffinden, who has 86.
JD has put himself firmly in the hunt to lift the FIM Speedway Grand Prix trophy after the final round at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on October 22.
And Doyle admits this was a hard-earned victory. He said: “I knew Tai was getting around the kerb very fast. He passed me in the semis and I was thinking ‘oh no, not again!’
“I had to go three laps on the fence. I picked up some speed and went wide again on the last corner. To get it on the finish was an amazing feeling. I couldn’t believe it.
“What a great night. To win in Gorzow is very special because they have so many fast Polish boys. Iversen and Zagar ride here week in, week out too. It was going to be tough, so I was happy with scoring a few points and getting to the semi.
“I’m not sure why anyone didn’t take gate one for the final. When I rocked up there, it was prime. Today was very special.”
Doyle paid tribute to runner-up Woffinden as their battle for speedway’s biggest prize with Hancock looks set to intensify.
“Tai was always going to do well in the final,” Doyle said. “I don’t know what it is with Tai. He can do it on the big occasions. I knew it was going to be a tough race, but it worked out, so I am happy.”
Doyle’s success is even more remarkable given that he didn’t practice after opting to rest following a heavy run of league meetings – raced with a back injury he sustained in Sweden a few weeks ago.
He said: “I rode here two weeks ago with Zielona Gora, when we beat Gorzow, so practice wasn’t going to teach me much.
“We started on the bikes we rode in the league match. We saved our engines a bit because it was very hot in practice.
“I also needed a bit of time off the bike. My back was really sore and I didn’t know what was going to happen. But there’s a physio in Zielona Gora, Robert. His company has worked very hard to get me back on a bike and I’d like to thank him. It’s coming good now, and you don’t get pain when you’re winning GPs!”
Doyle may have established himself as a true world title contender – in only his second season as an SGP star. But the grounded Swindon, Zielona Gora and Rospiggarna man admits he has already exceeded his pre-season expectations.
He said: “I’m chasing a world title, but I want to be in the GPs next year. We never expected to be second in the World Championship. We’re pushing hard and now a bit of confidence is coming; that’s a massive part.
“I have a really good team too. The mechanics are really working hard. We haven’t been away from a speedway track for nearly two weeks now. They’re working tirelessly with all the bikes.”
Doyle would love to become Australia’s sixth world champion, and the first to achieve the feat on home shale in Melbourne.
“It would be a dream come true to come to Melbourne and win the title,” he said. “But it’s going to be very hard to keep up these points. I know it’s a long way, so we’re just enjoying it.”
Woffinden saluted Doyle for a brilliant final battle. He said: “I know when I go bar-to-bar with Jason, we’re going to give each other room. It’s going to be a hard race, but it’ll be fair, and I said to him after that it was a great race.”
While Woffy would love to become only the third rider in the SGP era to defend the world title, he’s just determined to keep his racing simple and give it his all. He said: “I’m pretty happy with it, and we’re just chipping away each round and trying to score more points for the championship.
“Like I said earlier, if I bring my A-game, it’s good enough, but if I don’t, it won’t be good enough – it’s as simple as that. I just try to keep the sport simple. The more complicated you make it, the harder it gets. I’m just going out there and riding my bike and loving every minute of it, so bring on the rest of the season.”
Holder was content to pile up 15 points to move up to fourth in the standings on 77. He said: “It was a good night. I had some solid results and, halfway through, I had a lot of speed. I was winning a lot of races, which felt nice.
“I really wanted to win my semi to give myself one of the better gates for the final. I couldn’t get there, but I managed to get through. Overall I’m pretty happy to be sitting there with a lot of points in the bag. That’s the main thing.”
The next round sees the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series celebrate its 200th event as Teterow stages its first German SGP on September 10.
FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Championship Standings
- 1 Greg Hancock 94
- Jason Doyle 87
- Tai Woffinden 86
- Chris Holder 77
- Bartosz Zmarzlik 75
- Maciej Janowski 70
- Antonio Lindback 64
- Piotr Pawlicki 60
- Nicki Pedersen 55
- Fredrik Lindgren 53
FIM Speedway Grand Prix Gorzow Round Results
- Jason Doyle 16
- Tai Woffinden 15
- Chris Holder 15
- Bartosz Zmarzlik 14
- Nicki Pedersen 12
- Greg Hancock 11
- Fredrik Lindgren 11
- Piotr Pawlicki 10
- Krzysztof Kasprzak 7
- Maciej Janowski 6