Tai Woffinden ran away with last year’s Speedway Grand Prix title and one thinks that the British rider is a very worthy favourite to mount a successful defence of the championship.
Woffinden wrapped up the 2015 Speedway Grand Prix title with one round remaining, such was his dominance over the rest of his daredevil rivals. Woffinden was 25 points ahead of Greg Hancock going into the Speedway Grand Prix of Australia and the Perth-raised rider went through the motions in the land of his childhood on a night when Hancock rode seven perfect heats to finish his 21st championship campaign on a high.
Injury could play a part in the Speedway Grand Prix title race because the sport is extremely dangerous and broken bones are part and parcel of it. A bad fall at the wrong time could ruin Woffinden’s Speedway Grand Prix chance of retaining the championship but he looks a class above this season’s field and, therefore, one is willing to play given the odds of +220 that Ladbrokes are offering about him.
At 45, Hancock is a remarkable sportsman who won his first Speedway Grand Prix title in 1997, his second in 2011 and his third in 2014. Hancock has won at least one Speedway Grand Prix round in each of the last eight years and his speed from the gate enables him to be highly competitive even though he is old enough to be the dad of many of his foes. But Hancock only outscored Woffinden in three of last season’s 12 Speedway Grand Prix rounds and one of them was the Speedway Grand Prix of Australia that mattered little.
Nicki Pedersen is a three-time Speedway Grand Prix champion but he has won few major individual honours in the 2010s. Pedersen’s best days are behind him and just twice did he outscore Woffinden in last year’s 12 Speedway Grand Prix rounds. Pedersen will have celebrated his 39th birthday by the time that this season’s Speedway Grand Prix begins with the Speedway Grand Prix of Slovenia on Saturday 30 April.
After Woffinden, Hancock and Pedersen, there is a relatively large gap in the Speedway Grand Prix title betting to the likes of Bartosz Zmarzlik, Niels Kristian Iversen and Peter Kildemand, while Jaroslaw Hampel is even further down the list because he will miss early rounds because of injury.
Zmarzlik is the hipster’s Speedway Grand Prix championship selection because he is the reigning youth title holder but his experience at the very highest level is limited. This year will be Zmarzlik’s first as a full-time member of the Speedway Grand Prix series and, while his promise is there for all to see, odds of +1400 with Bet365 and BetVictor are nothing more than fair due to his considerable greenness.
Woffinden is the Speedway Grand Prix title bet at odds of +220 . Woffinden has had four full Speedway Grand Prix campaigns for two championships, one fourth place and one seventh place. It is significant that Woffinden cut back on his club commitments in 2015 – he quit riding in the British Elite League – and he regained the Speedway Grand Prix title that he had lost in 2014. Woffinden is fully focused on this season’s Speedway Grand Prix series – he has gone on the record as saying that he will not even contest the British Championship because he wants to concentrate on the world competition – and barring injury he will be hard to beat.
This year’s Speedway Grand Prix series will feature 11 events, getting under way in Slovenia on Saturday 30 April and drawing to a close in Australia on Saturday 22 October.
Tai Woffinden to win the 2016 Speedway Grand Prix Title
30th April – 22nd October 2016
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