World champion Tai Woffinden left a host of motorcycling icons trailing as he blitzed to the prestigious Motorcycle News Man of the Year Award for 2013.
The 23-year-old was up against a galaxy of two-wheeled stars from the road racing world, but bagged twice the number of votes notched by any of the other 13 shortlisted riders to become the first speedway winner in the poll’s 56-year history.
The award puts Woffinden in the company of motorcycling royalty, as the likes of Barry Sheene, Mike Hailwood, John Surtees, Valentino Rossi and Carl Fogarty have all triumphed in the past.
The prize is further recognition for the Team Great Britain captain, who stormed to the World Championship, despite starting 2013 at odds of 500/1 and breaking his collarbone twice during the year.
Woffy, whose achievement was announced at the Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show at ExCel today, paid tribute to his fans for getting behind him again and was delighted to secure a major prize for his sport.
He said: “It’s amazing to have won this, both for me and the world of speedway. Last season started well and just spiralled through to the end. I broke my collarbone twice, but kept trucking on and won the championship.
“The reaction to my championship has been great and this is another honour. I asked my followers on Twitter (@woffinden108) to get behind me and they helped me win this award.”
MCN editor Andy Calton said: “The most illustrious names in motorcycle racing have won our Man of the Year award since 1958 and it’s fantastic to see a rider from the off-road world add his name alongside the likes of John Surtees, Barry Sheene and Mike Hailwood. For Tai to win the World Championship in 2013 was a superb achievement and I’m very happy to see our readers have recognised this by making him the first speedway rider to ever become our Man of the Year.”
BSI Speedway managing director Paul Bellamy said: “We’re truly delighted to see Tai named MCN Man of the Year. To win a prize historically dominated by road racers is a huge feather in his cap and a fantastic result for speedway as a sport.
“Since winning the World Championship, Tai has worked very hard to take speedway to a mainstream audience in the UK. And it’s great to see him honoured as a talented motorcyclist, not just a world-class speedway rider.”