Brilliant British racer Tai Woffinden breathed a huge sigh of relief after clinching speedway’s ultimate prize on Saturday.
The Wolverhampton man won his second race in the Grand Prix of Poland in Torun – and with home hero Jarek Hampel relegated to third, it was enough for Woffinden to secure the world championship. The 23-year-old fulfilled a lifelong dream on an unforgettable night as he became the first Briton to take the crown since Mark Loram in 2000.
Despite breaking his collarbone for the second time this year just a fortnight ago, Woffinden entered the Marian Rose Motoarena with a 16-point lead at the top of the standings and on the brink of glory.
With a potentially nervy evening in prospect, the Scunthorpe-born racer quickly dispelled any doubts – wrapping up the title in fine style with a decisive swoop around title challenger Jarek Hampel in just the fifth race of the night.
The win sparked jubilant scenes in the capacity crowd and he was congratulated by several of his colleagues as he exited the track.
He eventually ended the meeting on 10 points – eliminated at the semi-final stage – before being presented with the trophy as the British national anthem blasted out around the stadium.
Woffinden follows in the footsteps of Ole Olsen and Sam Ermolenko to become the third rider in Wolverhampton’s history to conquer the world and the eighth Briton to claim the accolade.
The win wraps up a fairytale year for Woffinden which has seen him defy all pre-season predictions plus two broken collarbones.
A rank 500-1 outsider at the start of the campaign after enduring a torrid baptism in the series back in 2010, he began to raise eyebrows from the outset.
Nine points at the opening GP in New Zealand gave an indication of his intent and he was consistently strong throughout the 12-meeting series.
A maiden GP victory in Prague in May strengthened his title credentials – and although he suffered injury disaster at the British Grand Prix he bounced back with a podium finish just two weeks’ later.
After continuing his strong form to take the upper hand in the title race he ended the year on 151 points following six grand final appearances.
It is the perfect end to an unprecedented season which is sure to go down in history, with Woffinden also winning his first British Final – after finishing third no fewer than four times – and topping the Elite League averages.
Yet despite Woffinden’s success, his Wolves team-mate Freddie Lindgren suffered a tough night in the final Grand Prix of the year.
The Swedish star appeared to lack speed all night as he managed just a two-point return, leaving him eleventh in the world championship standings following a frustrating year.