Tai Woffinden is enjoying title tussle with American legend Greg Hancock, but it’s far from a two-horse race
Tai Woffinden, Britain’s FIM Speedway World Champion has a three-point advantage over the Californian going into the Rietumu Bank Latvian FIM Speedway Grand Prix, which comes to European Capital of Culture Riga’s revamped Bikernieki Sports Complex for the first time on Saturday.
The Perth (Western Australia) raised youngster enjoys a slender lead that could be wiped out by just one race win from Hancock, the Scunthorpe-born star knows he will have to be at his very best to stay on top.
Hancock, 44, is no stranger to battling for speedway’s biggest prize, having appeared in every SGP event since the series was founded in 1995. While Woffy respects his good friend and rival’s vast experience, he can’t wait to play his part in an awesome title fight with the double world champion.
He said: “Greg is a remarkable guy and full credit to him. I have massive respect for what he’s doing, in fact all the guys do. I couldn’t think of anyone better to be battling for the World Championship with. He’s on such great form and he will keep us all on our toes.
“But guys like Darcy and Niels won’t give up – there are five rounds to go and a lot of points available.
“I’m looking forward to seeing a new venue again. I just hope I can make starts and get the points I need.”
Woffinden insists Darcy Ward and Niels-Kristian Iversen, 15 and 16 points behind him respectively, could still fight their way back into the World Championship race.
But the Team Great Britain skipper hopes the experience of storming to gold in 2013 will serve him well as he bids to become only the third rider in SGP history to win back-to-back championships.
He said: “Basically the series is down to five rounds to decide the title. I’m just so pleased to be in this position after the poor start I made to the series. I left myself with a lot of work to do after Bydgoszcz in April, so it’s a real bonus that I lead the championship.
“Obviously I have all the experience of last year to fall back on. That was a high pressure situation and it was tough, but we managed to get there in the end. I’m feeling pretty good.
“I’m also feeling pretty relaxed about it without actually becoming complacent because the other guys are shooting for me.”