Tai Woffinden won his third speedway world title on Saturday to become the most decorated British rider of all time plus officially the youngest man ever to win three Speedway world titles.
The Englishman went into the final Grand Prix of the season in Poland with a 10-point lead over his nearest rival, Poland’s Bartosz Zmarzlik. Woffinden sealed the title when he won his semi-final, with Zmarzlik finishing third to miss out on the final.
Tai Woffinden who’s father late Rob used to ride for the Stoke Potters also set his sights on matching Ivan Mauger and Tony Rickardsson’s record haul of six. He said: “After I won my 2013 championship, we were sat in a room with Nicki (Pedersen), Crumpy (Jason Crump), Greg (Hancock) and (Chris) Holder. I mentioned that I wanted to break the six-time world champion record. They all kind of had a little laugh between them. But I’ve done it three times in six years and I will do it six times.”
The Scunthorpe-born ace didn’t just win the FIM Speedway World Championship; he topped the podium on the night in the Torun SGP of Poland, inflicting Artem Laguta’s sole loss of the night as the Russian racer stormed to 20 points – one short of a seven-ride maximum. Emil Sayfutdinov finished third with Niels-Kristian Iversen fourth.
Victory adds to the 28-year-old’s world titles in 2013 and 2015. Wales’ Freddie Williams and England’s Peter Craven both won two speedway world titles.
“They say the hardest thing is being world champion – it’s not. The hardest thing is being world champion the following year,” said Woffinden. “Massive thanks to the hundreds of British fans who have travelled here – it means a lot.”
He needed 12 points on the night to seal the deal and it was going according to plan right up until he ploughed into the safety fence at scarily high speed in his third race. 20,000 fans silenced, 20,000 hearts in mouths and an eerie silence punctured only by panic. He got up, raised a smile, dusted himself down and went on to clinch the title in his semi-final race, beating title rival Bartosz Zmarzlik in the process.