Speedway: Woffinden wins in Prague

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Tai Woffinden won last night’s Czech speedway Grand Prix in Prague to cement his position at the top of the world championship standings.

The Brit was fast all night, but saved his best starts for the semi-final and final – and won both to claim his third successive Czech GP victory.

“It’s crazy,” said Woffinden. “The old boy must be looking down on me at this track,” he added, referring to his late father and mentor Rob, who died just as his son was breaking into GP racing.

The 2013 world champion now heads into the summer break with a six-point lead in the championship standings, ahead of Denmark’s Nicki Pedersen, who finished fourth in Prague. Poland’s Jaroslaw Hampel, who was second in the Czech capital, is now third in the standings, nine points behind Woffinden.

More importantly for speedway in Britain, Woffinden will be the championship leader when the GP series resumes at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on July 4. That fact should help ticket sales as British speedway prepares for its biggest night of the year.

“Leading the championship going into Cardiff means there should be a big cheer from the fans and I’m looking forward to it,” said Woffinden.

The Prague meeting would have been a big relief for the series organisers as the first two rounds of the season were dogged by poor track conditions. The high-profile season-opener in Poland’s National Stadium was abandoned halfway through the night and the track in Tampere, Finland, was widely criticised by the riders.

Both of those tracks were laid especially for the event, while Prague’s Marketa Stadium is a permanent track and the riders clearly had the confidence to ride hard. The racing was processional in the early stages, but developed into an entertaining meeting that the series organisers will hope can restore fan confidence as they prepare for the traditional big night of the year in Cardiff.

For more info on the British speedway GP, go to www.speedwaygp.com

CZECH GP RESULT: 1 Tai Woffinden (GBR), 2 Jaroslaw Hampel (POL), 3 Maciej Janowski (POL), 4 Nicki Pedersen (DEN), 5 Greg Hancock (USA), 6 Andreas Jonsson (SWE), 7 Matej Zagar (SLO), 8 Niels-Kristian Iversen (DEN), 9 Jason Doyle (AUS), 10 Chris Holder (AUS), 11 Troy Batchelor (AUS), 12 Chris Harris (GBR), 13 Krzysztof Kasprzak (POL), 14 Michael Jepsen Jensen (DEN), 15 Vaclav Milik (CZE), 16 Tomas H Jonasson (SWE), 17 Matej Kus (CZE), 18 Josef Franc (CZE).

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after three of 12 rounds): 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 (POL) 4, 17 Bartosz Zmarzlik (POL) 3, 18 Timo Lahti (FIN) 3, 19 Vaclav Milik 2, 20 Piotr Pawlicki (POL) 1.

Tony Hoare

By Tony Hoare

Former MCN Consumer Editor