World champion Tai Woffinden says his broken hand is on the mend as he bids to chase down FIM Speedway Grand Prix top dog Greg Hancock in the Tegera® Scandinavian SGP in Stockholm on Saturday.
The Team Great Britain captain has been struggling with his left hand since crashing in a British Elite League match for Wolverhampton at Eastbourne on August 23.
He sat out the subsequent SGP round in Gorzow, Poland on August 30, but battled back to score a solid seven points at Danish track Vojens on September 13.
With series leader Hancock missing the Nordic SGP due to multiple fractures of his index finger sustained in the Gorzow SGP, Woffinden was able to half the American’s lead to seven points.With Polish star Krzysztof Kasprzak just a point behind Woffy in third and in the form of his life, the 24-year-old knows he will have to be at his best to leave Stockholm’s Friends Arena on top.
But having tested his fitness at his Polish club Wroclaw and Swedish track Vetlanda this week, Woffinden admits he is happier with his condition than he was in Vojens.
He said: “I’ve been to Poland to do some testing, by that I mean testing my bikes and my injured hand. The hand feels a lot better than it did, but then again it’s nearly five weeks since the crash now so things are improving all the time.
“I put myself through a good session on the bikes, but I have to report that, towards the end, the pain was coming back and the swelling was making it difficult.
“It’s fair to say I still have to manage the situation carefully and I have reluctantly made the decision to withdraw from the Elite Riders Championship (at King’s Lynn tonight).
“I’m looking forward to Stockholm, hopefully there will have been enough time for the swelling to have gone down and I can start feeling good on Saturday night.”
Two-time British champion Woffinden could do nothing to stop Swedish star Andreas Jonsson (AJ) re-igniting his top-eight bid with a stunning victory in the Nordic SGP – his first win in nearly three years.
But Woffy insists he will take the positives from the previous round in Denmark.
He said: “I was delighted with the points I got from three rides in Vojens and if I can get that from my first three rides in Stockholm that would be great – but I’m not saying I will.
“Let’s just see what happens on Saturday night. Anything can happen and I’m sure it will be entertaining; it’s a great stadium there. I’ve been working hard in the gym and trying to stay strong without putting pressure on the hand, so let’s see how it goes!”
Meanwhile, Hancock was due to return to the track today (Thursday) to test his fitness for the Tegera® Scandinavian SGP. Should all go to plan, he is ready to make his World Championship comeback after sitting out Vojens and reluctantly ending his historic record of 177 consecutive SGP appearances, which stretched back to 1995.
He said: “The injury is getting better every day and I plan to be on the bike again today as long as the weather holds up. I’m feeling good and more positive now too.“I can’t say much more right now, but if all goes to plan, I will start in the GP and Poland again on Sunday too.”
Jonsson arrives at the Friends Arena in his best form for some time after bouncing back to his best with victory at Vojens. He is now just five points short of the World Championship’s top eight as he bids to secure automatic qualification for 2015.
AJ, currently 11th in the standings, admits that result came as a huge lift. He said: “Now I’m getting better and I can see I have a chance to get into the top eight, it feels more exciting to go to the GPs again.
“A home GP is always the most difficult to win in front of your home fans. You’ve got pressure from them. But you’ve also got pressure from yourself. I really want to win in my own country – that’s most important.
“You have that pressure in the back of your mind, but I did pretty well at the Friends Arena last year and scored 10 points. Hopefully the track will be pretty much the same.
“I’m just going to go in there, do my best and I hope to reach the final. That would be a good result in Stockholm.”