Aussie icon Jason Doyle admits he “got out of jail again” after defying a difficult start to land his second straight Mitas Czech Republic FIM Speedway Grand Prix victory in Prague on Saturday.
The Newcastle-born star, who raced to his first SGP win at the Marketa Stadium in 2016, repeated the trick with an electrifying start to triumph in the final ahead of world champion Greg Hancock, Czech wild card Vaclav Milik and World Championship leader Patryk Dudek.
Dudek on 51 points still has a one-point cushion over Doyle at the top of the standings.
But having recorded just three from his opening three outings for the second straight round, the Swindon, Zielona Gora and Rospiggarna ace was elated to produce a champagne finish.
He said: “We just needed to score the points. I got 13 tonight and if someone had offered me that when I had three going into my fourth ride, I’d have taken it. We’ve got out of jail again.
“We did it in Daugavpils. We had a tough start and battled into the final there, and now we have done it in Prague. We should have had a podium at the last Grand Prix, but the bike broke down in the final. I guess luck was on our side here and we had a great night.
“If I finished how I started, it was not looking good. For the first three heats, I couldn’t get any speed out of the first engine.
“It was the engine I rode for all of last year in the Grand Prix and it was very fast. But we have another rocket now, I guess. I jumped on the third bike and made that work.
“I have never worked so hard to get points. My fourth ride was against a very hard line-up in Bartosz Zmarzlik, Tai Woffinden and Dudek. I knew that win got me on to six points and it made it a little easier for me to get into the semis. I didn’t have to win the last race.
“The points just weren’t coming at all. I couldn’t make a start; I couldn’t do anything right. But then it just clicked and started working with the track. It was one of those nights where we finished in the right way.”
Doyle produced the ride of the night to force his way past Dudek and Zmarzlik to win heat 14 – the race which turned his evening around. Rider No.69 admits he was tough on his Polish rivals.
But he said: “It’s Grand Prix racing. I was hard on Emil (Sayfutdinov) in my third race. You know how fast these boys are. If you give them one inch, they’ll just go around you or pull away.
“It’s called Grand Prix speedway for a reason. It’s hard work and we did it the hard way in Prague.”
Doyle hit the tapes in his opening ride and it ultimately proved a blessing in disguise – as he avoided a warning for jumping the start.
Had he not touched the tapes, he would have received a caution from referee Craig Ackroyd, which would have seen JD excluded from the final when he jumped the start again. The Aussie international admits he was pretty eager to gain an advantage from the tough outside gate.
He said: “I knew I had to have a dig off gate four and make a really good start. I double-clutched it just to try and get the bike pulling to the corner. I made too good a start the first time. I kept it still in the re-run and it was a very hard four laps.”
Doyle paid tribute to his dedicated crew for helping him get his first win of 2017 – and his fifth in two seasons. He said: “I just want to thank my boys, all my team – Johno Birks, Dave and Sam Haynes, Kamil Pulczynski and my family. They stuck by me when we had a few rough ones over the last few weeks.
“They put up with a lot of hard work when things aren’t going well. They do the right things and that’s why I have such a great Jason Doyle #69 team. “I ring my wife Emily after every meeting and when it’s not good, she has the right words to say. I think this is what it’s all about – when you have such a great family base.”
Winning in Prague has brought good fortune for many riders – eight of the last 13 winners went on to become world champion in the same season. But Doyle has little time for that statistic after triumphing last year, only for his campaign to be ended by an horrific crash at the penultimate SGP in Torun.
He said: “Last year I won Prague and ended up in a hospital for nearly six weeks. It’s all statistics and it means nothing to me.”
Runner-up Hancock was elated to regain top form with a whopping 18 points out of a possible 21 as he made his first final of 2017 to climb up to seventh in the standings.
He said: “It was a good night. It’s a turning point and we’re back in business. Game on! It’s so great to be back in it. I have speed, I feel good and it’s nice when all the hard work starts to pay off again.”
It was a special night for the home fans as Milik stormed to a sensational third place and his first SGP final.
The Pardubice hero said: “It’s a great result for me. It was my fourth start in the Czech SGP and I did a good job with my team. I got third place. It’s really, really good – an amazing result.”
Next up for the FIM Speedway Grand Prix stars is the Kjærgaard Danish SGP in Horsens on June 24.
FIM SPEEDWAY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Patryk Dudek 51, 2 Jason Doyle 50, 3 Martin Vaculik 44, 4 Fredrik Lindgren 43, 5 Maciej Janowski 41, 6 Piotr Pawlicki 39, 7 Greg Hancock 38, 8 Tai Woffinden 37, 9 Emil Sayfutdinov 33, 10 Bartosz Zmarzlik 32, 11 Niels-Kristian Iversen 28, 12 Chris Holder 27, 13 Matej Zagar 25, 14 Antonio Lindback 21, 15 Vaclav Milik 13, 16 Peter Kildemand 9, 17 Nicki Pedersen 8, 18 Maksims Bogdanovs 8, 19 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 3, 20 Nick Skorja 1.
MITAS CZECH SGP SCORES: 1 Jason Doyle 13, 2 Greg Hancock 18, 3 Vaclav Milik 13, 4 Patryk Dudek 13, 5 Chris Holder 11, 6 Martin Vaculik 10, 7 Antonio Lindback 9, 8 Peter Kildemand 8, 9 Bartosz Zmarzlik 8, 10 Tai Woffinden 7, 11 Piotr Pawlicki 7, 12 Fredrik Lindgren 6, 13 Maciej Janowski 6, 14 Matej Zagar 4, 15 Niels-Kristian Iversen 3, 16 Emil Sayfutdinov 2, 17 Josef Franc 0, 18 Matej Kus 0.