GB’s Tai Woffinden says the crash that dashed his title hopes could have been career-ending as he goes for Adrian Flux British SGP glory in Cardiff

Courtesy of FIM Speedway Grand Prix

WOFFY’S LUCKY BREAK

Great Britain hero Tai Woffinden admits the Polish crash which wrecked his FIM Speedway Grand Prix world title defence could have left him paralysed.

The three-time world champion goes into this weekend’s Adrian Flux British SGP in Cardiff on Saturday seeking his first victory at the iconic Principality Stadium after three second-place finishes there.

Woffinden knows he is somewhat fortunate to have made it to Cardiff at all, having fractured his TH4 vertebra when he crashed in a PGE Ekstraliga match while racing for Wroclaw in Lublin on June 7.

That injury forced him out of the SGP rounds in Prague and Hallstavik, as well as the Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations.

But Woffinden admits things could have been so much worse had he broken a different vertebra. He told Speedway Star: “If it had been any lower or any higher than the one I broke, there would have been a high chance I would have been paralysed.

“The bone broke from left to right diagonally and it went all the way through from one side to the other. But where I broke it is surrounded by soft tissue so it moved a little bit, but was held in place.

“If that had been lower in the back where it didn’t have the soft tissue and the ligaments and the shoulder blade and all that sort of stuff around it, it could have been another story altogether.”

Had the Cardiff event been staged in its previous July slot, Woffy would have almost certainly missed out.

So he’s grateful for the chance to be able to compete in front of over 40,000 fans in his homeland, and potentially end his wait for a Principality Stadium win.

He added: “I’m happy it’s this time of the year. If it was earlier in the year as normal, I would have missed it, so I am happy they moved it back this year.

“I haven’t won (in Cardiff) yet, so I have to do it at some point. I can’t win anything else so I may as well try and do it this year.”

With Woffinden 14th in the World Championship with 46 points, his dreams of a fourth world title will have to wait for now. But the battle to become SGP 2019 world champion is reaching an epic climax.

Poland’s Bartosz Zmarzlik – last year’s Cardiff winner – leads the standings on 103 points with Russia’s Emil Sayfutdinov in hot pursuit in second on 94. Danish ace Leon Madsen is third on 92.

With such fierce competition for the sport’s biggest prize, Woffinden knows better than most just how much the new world champion will have earned the sport’s highest honour.

And he admits handling the pressure of chasing the prize is no easy task going into the series’ penultimate round on Saturday, with the champion set to be crowned at the REVLINE Torun SGP of Poland on October 5.

He said: “If Bartek has a tough one in Cardiff, it could be all open going to Torun but on the flip side, he is riding very well at the moment. He and Emil both are.

“It’s going to come down to the next two rounds, which are very important in wrapping the title up.

“You’ll see how they deal with the pressure. Bartek has ridden for a long time now and he has had to deal with pressure. I’ve seen it for myself and I know whoever wins the title will have been the best rider of the year against the competition they’ve had and you can’t take that away from them.”

Tickets for the Adrian Flux British SGP are still available at the Principality Stadium from 13:00-19:00 on Friday and 09:30-17:30 on Saturday.

The action also starts long before the racing at 17:00 with the Adrian Flux British SGP fanzone on Cardiff’s City Hall Lawn from 11:00, featuring signing sessions, a Monster Energy Rig Riot, live entertainment, photo opportunities and much, much more.

ADRIAN FLUX BRITISH SGP LINE-UP (in FIM ranking order with rider numbers): 108 Tai Woffinden (Great Britain), 95 Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland), 66 Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden), 71 Maciej Janowski (Poland), 505 Robert Lambert (Great Britain – substitute for 45 Greg Hancock), 222 Artem Laguta (Russia), 69 Jason Doyle (Australia), 89 Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia), 692 Patryk Dudek (Poland), 55 Matej Zagar (Slovenia), 54 Martin Vaculik (Slovakia), 333 Janusz Kolodziej (Poland), 88 Niels-Kristian Iversen (Denmark), 85 Antonio Lindback (Sweden), 30 Leon Madsen (Denmark), 16 Charles Wright (Great Britain – wild card), 17 Daniel King (Great Britain – first track reserve), 18 Chris Harris (Great Britain – second track reserve).

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 103, 2 Emil Sayfutdinov 94, 3 Leon Madsen 92, 4 Fredrik Lindgren 87, 5 Martin Vaculik 79, 6 Maciej Janowski 73, 7 Patryk Dudek 72, 8 Matej Zagar 65, 9 Artem Laguta 63, 10 Niels-Kristian Iversen 61, 11 Jason Doyle 60, 12 Janusz Kolodziej 50, 13 Antonio Lindback 47, 14 Tai Woffinden 46, 15 Max Fricke 36, 16 Robert Lambert 31, 17 Mikkel Michelsen 15, 18 Bartosz Smektala 10, 19 Oliver Berntzon 7, 20 Vaclav Milik 4, 21 Maksym Drabik 4, 22 Matic Ivacic 2, 23 Jacob Thorssell 2, 24 Martin Smolinski 1.

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