Tai Woffinden takes 13pt lead to Poland
FIM Speedway World Championship leader Tai Woffinden says he’s not bothered about winning an SGP round – as long as he strikes gold in October!
The Great Britain born and Perth (WA), raised star, has won only one of the seven rounds of the series but arrives at the Edward Jancarz Stadium for the Gorzow FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Poland on Saturday with a 13-point lead in the title race.
Crucially, he has been consistent with a staggering 78 points gained from the five rounds which went the full distance – and average of 15.6 points per event. This puts him on 91 overall – 13 ahead of nearest rival Nicki Pedersen and 26 clear of defending champion Greg Hancock in third.
Despite his sizeable advantage, Woffinden still gets asked when he will add to the Czech SGP win he achieved in Prague on May 23.
But he insisted: “That doesn’t really matter as long as I get the ultimate prize. It’s all about being consistent; that’s what I’ve achieved so far. I’ve hit big numbers in every GP which has gone the distance, and I intend that to continue in these last five rounds.
“It’s nice to win a Grand Prix, don’t get me wrong, but as long as I get a big score then I’m happy and that attitude will continue going towards Gorzow.”
Like the rest of the speedway world, Woffinden has been hit by the serious spinal injuries sustained by Australian ace Darcy Ward in Zielona Gora on Sunday.
Woffinden spent some time with partner Faye in the last week and is keen to pass on the couple’s good wishes.
He said: “Both Faye and I want to pass on our best wishes to Darcy and his family, there isn’t a minute passing without us both thinking of him.
“We all know what a high risk sport speedway is, but we are all racers and we shut it out of our minds.
“What has happened to Darcy is certainly the type of thing which makes you think about things and we just want to see him have the best possible chance of recovery. I’m sure everyone is behind him.”
Woffinden insists he will have his game head on when he gets to Gorzow. “I’ll be focussed and ready to race because we know how tough the Grand Prix rounds are,” he said.
“I quite like the track there; it’s a fabulous stadium and my engine tuner Peter Johns has been working on a couple of engines for me to take around there.
“I’m feeling relaxed, happy and comfortable with how things are going – but by the time my first race comes around on Saturday night, it’s all about hitting as many points as possible.”
Woffinden may have taken charge of the title race, but the battle for the World Championship rostrum places and qualification for 2016 could not be closer.
Just 11 points separate Hancock in third from Danish star Michael Jepsen Jensen in ninth. With only eight riders guaranteed places in the 2016 SGP series, the difference between winning silver or bronze and dropping out of the championship is miniscule.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tai Woffinden 91, 2 Nicki Pedersen 78, 3 Greg Hancock 65, 4 Matej Zagar 65, 5 Chris Holder 61, 6 Niels-Kristian Iversen 60, 7 Jason Doyle 60, 8 Maciej Janowski 58, 9 Michael Jepsen Jensen 54, 10 Andreas Jonsson 45, 11 Tomas H Jonasson 37, 12 Peter Kildemand 37, 13 Troy Batchelor 36, 14 Chris Harris 34, 15 Jaroslaw Hampel 31, 16 Krzysztof Kasprzak 25, 17 Antonio Lindback 14, 18 Craig Cook 7, 19 Mikkel Michelsen 6, 20 Tomasz Gollob 4, 21 Bartosz Zmarzlik 3, 22 Timo Lahti 3, 23 Kasts Puodzuks 3, 24 Vaclav Milik 2, 25 Piotr Pawlicki 1, 26 Robert Lambert 1.
GORZOW FIM SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX OF POLAND LINE-UP (in ranking order with rider numbers): 45 Greg Hancock (USA), 507 Krzysztof Kasprzak (Poland), 3 Nicki Pedersen (Denmark), 108 Tai Woffinden (Great Britain), 55 Matej Zagar (Slovenia), 100 Andreas Jonsson (Sweden), 23 Chris Holder (Australia), 19 Peter Kildemand (Denmark – substitute for 33 Jaroslaw Hampel), 75 Troy Batchelor (Australia), 88 Niels-Kristian Iversen (Denmark), 37 Chris Harris (Great Britain), 69 Jason Doyle (Australia), 71 Maciej Janowski (Poland), 52 Michael Jepsen Jensen (Denmark), 30 Tomas H Jonasson (Sweden), 16 Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland – wild card). Track reserves: 17 Adrian Cyfer (Poland), 18 Rafal Karczmarz (Poland).