||Last Updated: Oct 25th, 2015 - 01:07:38
Double world champion Tai Woffinden collected the FIM Speedway World Championship trophy for the second time, and promptly set his sights on lifting it again at Melbourneís Etihad Stadium on October 22, 2016.
Outgoing champ Greg Hancock stormed to a sensational seven-ride maximum to win an epic 2015 DON Smallgoods Australian FIM Speedway Grand Prix and seal World Championship silver.
Woffinden piled up 12 points in the heats but crashed out of his semi-final to miss out on victory in the country he was raised. But the Scunthorpe-born star wrapped up the SGP trophy in Torun three weeks ago and promptly picked himself up to enjoy the medal presentation.
The Vetlanda and Wroclaw man is only the 16th rider in history to win multiple world titles, and only the fifth rider to achieve the feat in the SGP era, joining Tony Rickardsson, Nicki Pedersen, Jason Crump and Hancock. Only Rickardsson and Pedersen have won two titles on the bounce and itís a feat Woffinden would love to match.
He said: ďNicki said the hardest thing is to win it back to back. Iím always looking for something to help spur me on; another challenge in life.
"Hopefully this is another one Iíll knock straight down and I can keep trucking on. But I have so many more years at this, itís unreal. Iíve won it twice in the last three years. I have established myself as a top rider who is going to be here for a long time. Iíll see how many of these we can get.Ē
The Etihad Stadium pulled a superb crowd in excess of 26,000 for a dramatic first speedway meeting, staged on a fantastic race track. Woffinden hopes the event can go from strength to strength and was elated to lift the trophy in the country he calls home.
He said: ďIt was absolutely unreal. The guys at the Etihad put on a really good show. It has been a long series. There have been some ups and downs for everybody, not just the riders.
ďTo see it all finish on a good note on a great track is fantastic. Hopefully every single person that was there tonight brings two people next year and we get this place full.
ďIt was great to clinch the championship in Torun, but to actually be given the trophy in Australia means so much to me. It has been an unbelievable year.Ē
Woffinden paid tribute to veteran title rivals Hancock and Pedersen. At 45 and 38 respectively, the duo may be the SGP seriesí elder statesmen, but their pace continues to impress Woffy.
He joked: ďMe and Greg agreed that I donít call him old; I call him experienced. Nicki is also experienced. Itís amazing to see how dedicated these guys are at such an old age! Itís unreal racing against these guys and long may it continue.Ē
Woffinden plans to enjoy a well-earned break, before getting back down to work in his bid for No.3.
He said: ďThis summer Iím going to try and ride motocross twice a week and Iíll go out on my matesí boats and go fishing. Iím going snorkelling and diving. Iím going to plan a wedding with my fiancťe Faye. Iím going to party hard and celebrate with all my mates.
ďI donít need to say anything else about what I plan to do for next season because I donít want these boys to do the same.
"All I know is Iíll be working twice as hard as anyone in the series Ė youíll see that next year.Ē
Hancock may have been deflated by missing out on his fourth SGP title. But heís determined to keep learning and bounce back in 2016.
He said: ďWe all come here to win this thing. The truth of the game is second place is the first loser. But itís a medal and shows the determination we all have.
ďWinning is everything, but there are building blocks along the way. Iím learning all the time and I learned a heck of a lot from this. I love what I do. Speedway is what I have been doing since I was a kid and thereís nothing better than getting sideways. If Iím going to do it, I want to be the best.Ē
Pedersen also has no desire to slow down and is ready to go back to the workshop and test track to find the consistency needed to dethrone Woffinden.
He said: ďAgainst those guys itís hard to become the world champion. I gave it a shot. I have a few things I could do better and improve. Iíve won three rounds and I hadnít won any rounds for a few years. You need to win GPs before you become world champion.
ďHalfway through the season, we were struggling with a lack of speed. We got that sorted towards the end. This winter I will improve upon small things here and there. We all start on zero points next season. Weíll see what happens.Ē
Hancock won the Melbourne final ahead of Niels-Kristian Iversen and Maciej Janowski. But that race was marred by a nasty-looking crash for Australian champion Jason Doyle, who was briefly knocked unconscious after a first-bend tangle with Hancock.
After being ruled out of the re-run of the final, he was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for treatment, but is said to be conscious and breathing unaided.
Tickets for the 2016 Australian FIM Speedway Grand Prix on October 22 go on sale at 12pm local time on Monday. Visit www.ticketmaster.com.au.
FINAL 2015 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tai Woffinden 163, 2 Greg Hancock 147, 3 Nicki Pedersen 131, 4 Niels-Kristian Iversen 120, 5 Jason Doyle 114, 6 Matej Zagar 107, 7 Maciej Janowski 106, 8 Chris Holder 95, 9 Peter Kildemand 92, 10 Andreas Jonsson 88, 11 Michael Jepsen Jensen 84, 12 Troy Batchelor 59, 13 Chris Harris 55, 14 Tomas H Jonasson 55, 15 Krzysztof Kasprzak 45, 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 Sam Masters 5, 23 Tomasz Gollob 4, 24 Timo Lahti 3, 25 Kasts Puodzuks 3, 26 Vaclav Milik 2, 27 Robert Lambert 1, 28 Adrian Cyfer 1, 29 Aleksander Conda 1, 30 Denis Stojs 1.
2015 DON SMALLGOODS AUSTRALIAN SGP SCORES: 1 Greg Hancock 21, 2 Niels-Kristian Iversen 15, 3 Maciej Janowski 11, 4 Jason Doyle 11, 5 Peter Kildemand 13, 6 Tai Woffinden 12, 7 Andreas Jonsson 12, 8 Krzysztof Kasprzak 9, 9 Matej Zagar 7, 10 Michael Jepsen Jensen 7, 11 Nicki Pedersen 7, 12 Sam Masters 5, 13 Tomas H Jonasson 4, 14 Troy Batchelor 2, 15 Chris Holder 2, 16 Chris Harris 0, 17 Justin Sedgmen DNR, 18 Max Fricke DNR.
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