Tai Woffinden takes Czech Speedway GP
British born, but Perth (WA) raised, FIM Speedway World Championship leader Tai Woffinden completed a sensational hat-trick of Czech Republic FIM Speedway Grand Prix wins in Prague on Saturday, and dedicated it to his British fans.
The 2013 world champion topped the Marketa Stadium rostrum for a third season in succession after beating Polish international duo Jaroslaw Hampel and Maciej Janowski and triple world champion Nicki Pedersen in the final.
Woffy is now six points clear of the Dane at the top of the World Championship ahead of the blockbuster British SGP at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on July 4. He’s set to be roared on by a partisan British crowd there, and when he represents his country in next month’s Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup.
The Brits followed him to Prague in big numbers too and Woffy paid tribute to those who travelled to the Czech capital to cheer him to glory.
He said: “There was such a big British fanbase here tonight. Every year it has grown more and more.
“That’s great for me. I don’t just do speedway for myself. I do it for the people I work with, my sponsors, my family, my friends and the fans. When I get on my bike, it’s not just for me. It’s for everybody and I want to put on a show for everyone watching.”
Seven of the last 11 Czech SGP winners have gone on to be crowned world champion in the same season. Woffinden capitalised on the Czech charm in 2013, but missed out on retaining his title after triumphing in Prague last year.
Despite equalling Aussie great Jason Crump’s record of three Czech SGP wins, Woffinden can’t put a finger on why Prague has proved such a happy hunting ground.
He said: “I don’t know what’s happening. I’ve ridden different engines in each of the last three years I’ve been here.”
Whether he gets the SGP trophy back this year remains to be seen. But Woffinden is clearly a man enjoying his speedway.
He said: “I thoroughly enjoy everything and I love my speedway. Long may it continue. I’d like to say a massive thanks to Monster Energy and all my sponsors, who give me the opportunity to do what I do.”
Hampel raced to his sixth podium finish at the Marketa Stadium to retain third place in the World Championship. But he was disappointed he couldn’t find the consistency needed to finally land Czech gold. He said: “I didn’t start well. My races were up and down. I’d win one and come third in another.
“I couldn’t find the right setup and I couldn’t get my speed. That’s why I couldn’t find the right line to fight on the track. I worked really hard in the pits with my team to find some more speed and the result was okay in the end.”
Third-placed Janowski went into the Czech SGP with just five points from two rounds. He ended his five heat rides with a sublime 15-point maximum to top the scorechart, before finishing second to Pedersen in his semi-final.
The Wroclaw-born racer held second in the final for almost three laps, but he was passed by Hampel for the silver medal. Magic still left Prague very happy with an awesome 18 points.
He said: “I started very well. I had the setup right, I was gating well and I was pretty quick on the track. It was tough in the final. My bike was not fast enough. But I’m very happy I finally scored some good points.”
Janowski says he has now overcome the knee injuries he suffered at Coventry on April 10, which have ruled him out of Poole’s British Elite League fixtures.
He said: “My knee is 100 percent ready for racing again. I hope I don’t miss anymore races and I can stay without injuries for the rest of the season.”
The SGP series takes a break until the British SGP in six weeks as the sport’s top stars prepare for the Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup.
The action gets underway when Poland host Sweden, Russia and the Czech Republic at Gniezno on June 6. Team Great Britain tackle Australia, Latvia and the USA at British track King’s Lynn on June 8.
The winners join hosts and reigning champions Denmark in the Monster Energy SWC Final at Vojens on June 13. The second and third-placed nations battle it out in the Race Off at the legendary Danish venue for the one remaining Final berth.
FIM Speedway World Championship Championship Standings
1 Tai Woffinden 40, 2 Nicki Pedersen 34, 3 Jaroslaw Hampel 31, 4 Greg Hancock 27, 5 Matej Zagar 24, 6 Andreas Jonsson 24, 7 Maciej Janowski 23, 8 Jason Doyle 22, 9 Niels-Kristian Iversen 21, 10 Michael Jepsen Jensen 19, 11 Chris Harris 18, 12 Krzysztof Kasprzak 17, 13 Chris Holder 13, 14 Troy Batchelor 13, 15 Tomas H Jonasson 9, 16 Tomasz Gollob 4, 17 Bartosz Zmarzlik 3, 18 Timo Lahti 3, 19 Vaclav Milik 2, 20 Piotr Pawlicki 1.
FIM Speedway World Championship Czech Grand Prix Standings
CZECH SGP SCORES: 1 Tai Woffinden 18, 2 Jaroslaw Hampel 13, 3 Maciej Janowski 18, 4 Nicki Pedersen 15, 5 Greg Hancock 13, 6 Andreas Jonsson 9, 7 Matej Zagar 9, 8 Niels-Kristian Iversen 8, 9 Jason Doyle 7, 10 Chris Holder 6, 11 Troy Batchelor 6, 12 Chris Harris 5, 13 Krzysztof Kasprzak 4, 14 Michael Jepsen Jensen 4, 15 Vaclav Milik 2, 16 Tomas H Jonasson 1, 17 Matej Kus 0, 18 Josef Franc 0.