Woffinden takes his third world speedway title in fine style
Woffinden takes third world title but wants to double his tally
‘Becoming a back-to-back champion is next’
Great British hero Tai Woffinden became the nation’s first three-time speedway world champion in Torun, Poland on Saturday, and immediately set his sights on joining the sport’s most elite club. The 28-year-old won the Torun FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Poland to fend off a fierce challenge from Polish rival Bartosz Zmarzlik and add to the titles he lifted in 2013 and 2015. Woffy has now surpassed the championships won by Freddie Williams and Peter Craven to become Britain’s most decorated speedway world champion.
But the Scunthorpe-born star has long dreamed of matching the record six titles won by the late, great New Zealander, Ivan Mauger and Swedish icon Tony Rickardsson. It’s an ambition he’s now halfway towards achieving. A determined Woffy said: “After I won my 2013 championship, we were sat in a room with Nicki (Pedersen), Crumpy (Jason Crump), Greg (Hancock) and (Chris) Holder. I mentioned I wanted to break the six-time world champion record. “They all kind of had a little laugh between them. But I’ve done it three times in six years and I will do it six times.”
Only two riders have succeeded in retaining the World Championship since the SGP series was launched in 1995, with Rickardsson doing the double twice in 1998 and 1999 and in 2001 and 2002, and Danish legend Pedersen achieving the feat most recently in 2007 and 2008. While his dream of winning a super six will take at least three more years, becoming a back-toback champion is next. He said: “People say the hardest thing is being world champion, but it’s not. The hardest thing is being the world champion again the following year.
“When you have that target on your back, it’s tough. I’ve had a few cracks at trying to win it back to back and now I have a third. Hopefully it is third time lucky. I’ll put the work in and make sure I can give it my best shot next year.” Woffinden came under intense pressure from Zmarzlik in the second half of the season, with the talented 23-year-old winning his opening four rides in Torun to take the race for gold all the way to the semi-finals.
But second place in semi-final two ahead of the Gorzow rider was enough to see Woffinden over the line as he claimed the championship by ten points. The former Wolverhampton rider admits this year’s title fight was his toughest yet. He said: “I always say I don’t like to start the season well and that’s what I did this year. It’s always nice to be behind chasing. This year was the hardest year for me physically and mentally.
“I’m pretty strong in the head, but there were times when I kind of just sat there thinking ‘wow man, this is tough.’ One hundred percent this was my hardest one to date.
“A massive thanks to (Polish tuners) Daniel and Ryszard Kowalski; they have given me very fast engines all season. A massive thanks to all my sponsors, my family and my team. I am looking forward to next year.”
Britain’s Woffinden takes the world championship Tai prefers a slow start to his season and to chase rivals Woffy thanked family and friends No 95 is close rival and championship runner-up Zmarzlik