Great Britain racer Tai Woffinden insisted “I always had faith in my own ability” as he bids to continue his surge towards the FIM Speedway Grand Prix summit in the IPONE German SGP in Teterow on Saturday.
Just 10 points separate the World Championship’s top five, with Australian racer Jason Doyle leading the way on 97 points, with Polish pair Maciej Janowski (94) and Patryk Dudek (93) chasing hard.
Double world champion Woffinden has put himself firmly back into contention with 32 points in his last two rounds, winning the MIB Nordic Gorzow SGP of Poland on August 26 to move up to fourth in the standings on 89 points – two ahead of Sweden’s Fredrik Lindgren (87).
And Woffinden is ready to maintain his momentum and pile the pressure on his title rivals in Germany this weekend.
The Scunthorpe-born man said: “It’s all about putting the pressure on the three guys in front of me now. I’m looking forward to getting there on Friday and doing some laps before the meeting on Saturday.”
Woffinden insists he’s getting back to his best after some setup issues in the first half of the season. He added: “It’s all coming together. I was getting frustrated by people saying I’m not the same rider, I’m doing things wrong, this that and the other. I couldn’t let that continue.
“I knew it wasn’t me. I hadn’t become a poor rider over night and I always had faith in my own ability.
“I just had to make a big call on something with my setup and changed things, and the results since I made the change speak for themselves.
“Now people are realising it wasn’t me. I wasn’t lacking desire or passion. I wasn’t concentrating on decorating the house too much. It was simply down to my setup.
“I feel good now and I have given myself a shot at the title. I like the Teterow track. The meeting there was good last year with a great crowd and a good atmosphere, and I’m sure Saturday will be just the same.”
Another man determined to make his mark in Teterow is home hero Martin Smolinski, who reached last season’s semi-finals at the Bergring Arena.
The Munich-born ace has been drafted into the meeting as one of three substitute riders, alongside Denmark’s Peter Kildemand and World Under-21 champion Max Fricke. This is following the withdrawal of world champion Greg Hancock, Nicki Pedersen and Niels-Kristian Iversen due to injury.
Smolinski joins wild card Kai Huckenbeck in the event – the first time two Germans have featured in an SGP starting line-up since the 1998 German SGP at Pocking. And the 2014 New Zealand SGP winner is keen to play his part in showing Germany’s class on the world stage.
Smolinski said: “I’m very pleased to have the chance as a substitute rider to come into the Speedway Grand Prix in Teterow. The home crowd can see two good German riders on show.
“It’s always good for the German crowd – and it shows how good the German speedway sport is. I know Kai Huckenbeck is in very good form at the moment, but I want to show what I can do.
“I would like to do the same as last year and reach the semi-finals. In the semi-final, you never know what can happen; anything is possible.
“Having a Grand Prix is a big step for German speedway. I must say a big thank you to the organisers from Teterow for taking this meeting and giving us the possibility to have a Grand Prix in Germany, so we can show how good the sport is here.
“Every senior rider and club in Germany is reaching better goals because of us having a Speedway Grand Prix in Germany.”
Having raced as a full-time SGP rider in 2014, Smolinski remains determined to regain a permanent place in the series.
He added: “The next step is getting a German SGP rider in the full line-up – that’s what we have to do. That’s my biggest goal.”
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Jason Doyle 97, 2 Maciej Janowski 94, 3 Patryk Dudek 93, 4 Tai Woffinden 89, 5 Fredrik Lindgren 87, 6 Bartosz Zmarzlik 80, 7 Emil Sayfutdinov 79, 8 Martin Vaculik 66, 9 Antonio Lindback 60, 10 Piotr Pawlicki 59, 11 Matej Zagar 58, 12 Chris Holder 52, 13 Greg Hancock 45, 14 Niels-Kristian Iversen 44, 15 Peter Kildemand 26, 16 Vaclav Milik 20, 17 Nicki Pedersen 8, 18 Michael Jepsen Jensen 8, 19 Maksims Bogdanovs 8, 20 Kenneth Bjerre 7, 21 Krzysztof Kasprzak 6, 22 Martin Smolinski 5, 23 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 3, 24 Craig Cook 2, 25 Linus Sundstrom 2, 26 Josh Bates 2, 27 Nick Skorja 1.
IPONE GERMAN SGP LINE-UP (in ranking order with rider numbers): 25 Peter Kildemand (substitute for 45 Greg Hancock), 108 Tai Woffinden, 95 Bartosz Zmarzlik, 23 Chris Holder, 69 Jason Doyle, 777 Piotr Pawlicki, 85 Antonio Lindback, 46 Max Fricke (substitute for 88 Niels-Kristian Iversen), 55 Matej Zagar, 71 Maciej Janowski, 66 Fredrik Lindgren, 84 Martin Smolinski (substitute for 12 Nicki Pedersen), 692 Patryk Dudek, 54 Martin Vaculik, 89 Emil Sayfutdinov, 16 Kai Huckenbeck, 17 Tobias Kroner, 18 Mathias Bartz.