WOFFY’S GOLDEN GOAL
GB hero Tai Woffinden targeting Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations gold ahead of Race Off 2 in Manchester on Saturday.
10 / 05 / 2019, 11:00
Great Britain’s triple world champion Tai Woffinden says “our only goal is the gold medal” as the Lions bid for a Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations Finals spot in Manchester on Saturday.
The hosts face Australia, Denmark, Latvia, USA, France and Finland in Race Off 2 for the right to join defending champions Russia, Sweden, Poland and Germany in the Finals in Togliatti, Russia on July 20 and 21.
The Lions topped the Finals scorechart over two days in Wroclaw last summer, only to be denied the championship when Russia finished second and third behind Woffinden in the Grand Final.
Nobody expected us to do what we did last time. But this year maybe a few people will look at us and know that we’ve got what it takes to win, so our only goal is the gold medal.
It was a cruel blow for a country seeking its first world title since 1989 and, after defying their doubters last year, there’s only one goal in Woffy’s mind as he joins British champion Robert Lambert and Craig Cook at the National Speedway Stadium.
He said: “We want to go one further than last year. Nobody expected us to do what we did last time. But this year maybe a few people will look at us and know that we’ve got what it takes to win, so our only goal is the gold medal. We only want to win. But first we’ve got to get to Russia!”
With a Danish side featuring FIM Speedway Grand Prix stars Niels-Kristian Iversen and Leon Madsen and an Aussie team containing 2012 world champion Chris Holder and Belle Vue Aces skipper Max Fricke, the Lions face some star-studded competition in Manchester.
“We’ve got a pretty tough round,” Woffinden admitted. “Obviously Denmark and the Aussies look pretty strong but there are some other good teams out there and we know it’s going to be hard.
“Last year we put in a pretty good performance at Belle Vue and we’re looking to do the same again. We want to win our round and lay down a bit of a marker to the other countries and head to Russia with a big result.
“We’ve got a strong team again. Cookie knows Manchester inside out and Rob Lambert is improving all the time. I’d say he’s even better now than he was last year so we have no reason to fear anyone.”
Woffinden is yet to race in the UK this year, but has been piling up the points for PGE Ekstraliga side Wroclaw in Poland.
He’s keen to enjoy a rare chance to race in front of a home crowd. He said: “It’s always cool racing for your country in front of your home fans and last year the atmosphere was awesome. I don’t get to race here too often so it’s always special when I do.
“We want to see as many fans there as possible cheering us on and we’ll do the best we can to send them home happy.”
Danish skipper Iversen admits his side are keen to race their way back on to the World Championship rostrum for the first time since winning Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup silver in 2015.
Iversen has four SWC gold medals to his name, but knows the pressure is on to end their current drought.
“That’s the goal and the ambition,” he said. “I know we have a lot of pressure from Team Denmark and people behind the scenes. It has been quite a tough few years for Danish speedway.
“There is a lot on the line and I have been in teams when we have won the World Championship before.
“I believe we can do it again. But you need everything to click on that day and you need everything to be working your way.
“There is some really strong competition and nothing is going to be easy at all. We just have to attack it and do our best really. The motivation is there and I believe we can do well.”
Very limited standing tickets remain for Monster Energy SON Race Off 2. Book here now: http://bit.ly/2VtKVwb.
RACE OFF 2 SQUADS AND LINE-UPS (IN DRAW ORDER):
AUSTRALIA: 1 Chris Holder (captain), 2 Max Fricke, U21 Jaimon Lidsey. Also in squad: Jason Doyle, Jordan Stewart (U21). Team Manager: Mark Lemon.
FINLAND: 1 Jesse Mustonen, 2 Tero Aarnio (captain), U21 Timi Salonen. Also in squad: Timo Lahti, Niklas Sayrio (U21). Team Manager: Jyri Palomaki.
LATVIA: 1 Andzejs Lebedevs (captain), 2 Jevgenijs Kostigovs, U21 Olegs Mihailovs. Team Manager: Vladimirs Ribnikovs.
DENMARK: 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen (captain), 2 Leon Madsen, U21 Frederik Jakobsen. Also in squad: Michael Jepsen Jensen, Patrick Hansen (U21). Team Manager: Hans Nielsen.
GREAT BRITAIN: 1 Tai Woffinden (captain), 2 Craig Cook, U21 Robert Lambert. Also in squad: Chris Harris, Daniel Bewley (U21). Team Manager: Alun Rossiter.
FRANCE: 1 David Bellego (captain), 2 Dimitri Berge, U21 Gaetan Stella. Team Manager: Laurent Sambarrey.
USA: 1 Austin Novratil, 2 Luke Becker (captain), U21 Broc Nicol. Also in squad: Ricky Wells. Team Manager: Lance King.