Tai Woffinden seals FIM Speedway GP Title
Great Britain’s new double FIM Speedway World Champion Tai Woffinden declared “I’ve proved I’m one of those riders who is going to be at the top for a long time” after sealing title No.2 in Torun, Poland on Saturday.
The 25-year-old missed out on the FST Grupa Brokerska Torun FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Poland semi-finals with eight points on the night triple world champion Nicki Pedersen won his third SGP of 2015.
But with nearest rival and defending champion Greg Hancock failing to reach the final, Woffy is now certain of being crowned at the final round of the season, the DON Smallgoods Australian SGP at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on October 24.
Woffinden joins Freddie Williams and Peter Craven in the elite club of British double world champions and is the 16th rider in history to lift the sport’s biggest prize multiple times.
The Scunthorpe-born, and Perth (Western Australia) raised, star defied odds of 500/1 to claim his first title in 2013 and has been a firm favourite ever since. And he’s certain he has found the winning formula needed to become a permanent fixture at the very top of world speedway.
He said: “I have worked hard this season and it paid off. I made a pretty big mistake in 2014. I didn’t do what I needed to do and I needed that to level me a bit so that I could start again this year.
“After the last three years, I think I’ve proved I’m one of those riders who is going to be at the top for a long time. I’ll just get my head down, focus and see how many titles we can get.
“I said before the meeting that I’d like to wrap it up in Torun. It didn’t happen the way I wanted it to. I would have liked to score the points to win it. It’s not really ideal to watch someone come last in a race for me to win the championship. But hey, that’s the way it is.
“I said to Greg when I gave him the trophy last year, ‘don’t get too comfortable because you’re giving me that back next year!’ That’s exactly what happened and we’ll see what happens in 2016.
“I want to say a massive thank you to my engine tuner Peter Johns, Monster Energy and all my sponsors, and my team mostly. I have the best mechanics in the world. They work so hard and we have proved that over the last three years.”
Pedersen was elated to get back to winning ways after recording seven points in three of the previous four rounds. He sat out Friday’s practice session in favour of some private testing at his Polish club Leszno. It paid dividends for the world No.3 and he’s setting his sights on snatching World Championship silver in Melbourne in three weeks.
Pedersen, who is third on 124 points and just two behind Hancock in second, said: “We made small changes and finally I have the speed back. It paid off with a win, so I’m happy.
“I’ve been really, really struggling with speed for the last two months. It hasn’t been going the way I wanted it to, but I’m not blaming anybody.
“We tested a lot in Leszno on Friday. We had a few engines we tested and figured out what to use in Torun. Luckily it worked and I’m happy with my team’s performance over the last week.
“I wanted to finish off in Europe the best way possible. I want to get in the picture and at least be third in the world this year.
“I did the job I felt I should in Torun, and now I can concentrate on maybe getting a second place. I can go all in for that; I have nothing to lose – only something to win.”
Torun runner-up Jason Doyle was over the moon to reach his maiden SGP final after a catalogue of near misses this season. His awesome 18-point haul pushed him up to fifth place in the World Championship and the Aussie No.1 is determined to end his season on a high at the Etihad Stadium.
He said: “I’ve kept telling people I needed to get this monkey off my back with the semi-finals and finally make a final. To make a final and come second in my first year is an unreal experience. I’m over the moon with second. It’s like a win for me. What a night!
“To top the season off in Melbourne is great. I can’t wait to ride in front of my family, friends and the Australian public. It’ll be a memory never to forget.
“My main goal this year was to make the top eight and we are still going in the right direction. Hopefully I’m secure in there now and can go to Melbourne with no pressure.”
Third-placed Maciej Janowski says he’s learning fast in the SGP series as he closes in on securing the top-eight spot he needs to earn qualification for the 2016 FIM Speedway Grand Prix competition.
After reaching a second straight final, he said: “I’m so happy I was in the final. We all know how hard it is in the GPs. If you make a small mistake, you come last.
“I’m learning from my mistakes and I’m using everything I have. Sometimes I make some mistakes, but everything went well in this one, so I’m very happy.”
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tai Woffinden 151, 2 Greg Hancock 126, 3 Nicki Pedersen 124, 4 Niels-Kristian Iversen 105, 5 Jason Doyle 103, 6 Matej Zagar 100, 7 Maciej Janowski 95, 8 Chris Holder 93, 9 Peter Kildemand 79, 10 Michael Jepsen Jensen 77, 11 Andreas Jonsson 76, 12 Troy Batchelor 57, 13 Chris Harris 55, 14 Tomas H Jonasson 51, 15 Krzysztof Kasprzak 36, 16 Jaroslaw Hampel 31, 17 Antonio Lindback 20, 18 Bartosz Zmarzlik 17, 19 Piotr Pawlicki 8, 20 Craig Cook 7, 21 Mikkel Michelsen 6, 22 Tomasz Gollob 4, 23 Timo Lahti 3, 24 Kasts Puodzuks 3, 25 Vaclav Milik 2, 26 Robert Lambert 1, 27 Adrian Cyfer 1, 28 Aleksander Conda 1, 29 Denis Stojs 1.
FST GRUPA BROKERSKA TORUN SGP SCORES: 1 Nicki Pedersen 19, 2 Jason Doyle 18, 3 Maciej Janowski 11, 4 Niels-Kristian Iversen 10, 5 Chris Holder 11, 6 Andreas Jonsson 11, 7 Peter Kildemand 11, 8 Greg Hancock 8, 9 Tai Woffinden 8, 10 Piotr Pawlicki 7, 11 Matej Zagar 7, 12 Michael Jepsen Jensen 5, 13 Tomas H Jonasson 5, 14 Troy Batchelor 3, 15 Chris Harris 3, 16 Krzysztof Kasprzak 1, 17 Bartosz Zmarzlik DNR, 18 Pawel Przedpelski DNR.