Australian Darcy Ward knows he will have to pull something out of the bag as he attempts to overhaul World Champion Tai Woffinden at this weekend’s Swedish FIM Speedway Grand Prix.
Although Woffinden only leads Ward by one point in the standings, the Brit stormed to victory in May’s Czech SGP in Prague, taking his total to 46 points, level with American speedway great, Greg Hancock. However, a 16-point haul from Ward, including a 15-point maximum in his heats, leaves him just 1 point behind in third.
“It’s going to be tough at the top,” admits Ward. “Woffy definitely stamped a marker with his win in Prague to show he’s back to good form and he’s going to be hard to beat. I think they’re all going to be hard to beat – it’s going to be tough. You can’t really predict it at the moment, but you can see a few guys who are a step ahead of the others. Greg Hancock is going to be there, but Greg’s gating is what he needs. He is a master of it. If I out-gate him, I feel comfortable that hopefully he won’t pass me. But on his good night, he’s still one of the best in the world.”
Ward was also sure to not discount Polish ace Krzysztof Kasprzak, who, despite nursing a torn cruciate knee ligament injury, was holding the championship lead going in to the Czech round.
“KK was the quickest at the start of the year for sure. He will definitely bounce back to pretty good form. He didn’t show it in Prague, but I’m sure he’ll come back. I have the same knee injury and it takes about four weeks to get back to where you want to be. He’ll be stepping back up in Malilla, for sure.”
The start to the season has been far less than perfect for Ward, who scored just five points in the opening round in Auckland, where he crashed and sustained his knee injury. He also missed the semi-final in Tampere by eight points, the first time he has ever fallen short having completed all five heat races.
“To be one point off the lead after everything I’ve had this year; I’m really happy with that,” concluded Ward. “I feel like I missed the round in New Zealand when I tore my knee ligament, and I’m still just a point off. The confidence is there.”
Just nine points separate championship leader Woffinden and ninth placed Martin Smolinski, who won the New Zealand SGP, creating an extremely interesting scenario as the series returns, after a one year absense, to Malilla’s G&B Arena.