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Hancock closes gap on Woffinden after Slovenian victory

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World champion Greg Hancock has closed the gap on current leader Tai Woffinden and insists that he “won’t give up until there is no chance” of retaining his FIM Speedway Grand Prix crown after winning the Slovenian Grand Prix in Krsko.

The American notched up 20 points on a sensational evening in Slovenia, topping the rostrum ahead of the current leader Woffinden and Danish international Peter Kildemand.

Hancock’s victory see’s him move above Dane Nicki Pedersen, who finished 4th on the night, and closes the gap on Woffinden to 25 points. And despite reaching the last two Grand Prix finals, the American admits that his poor start to the season has hindered his chances, but he won’t give up until it’s over.

He said: “The only thing I could wish for right now is to be giving Tai a bit more of a run for his money. I had big hopes of retaining the title and doing it all again, but I missed out in a few crucial rounds, where it didn’t go as well as I had hoped.

“Gold is what we are chasing, but it’s going to be very, very tough. A lot of people would just take their hat off to Tai now and say ‘thank you and congratulations.’ But I’m an optimistic sort of guy. I won’t give up until there is no chance. Right now, there is still a chance.”

The American also admitted that some of his pre-season changes hadn’t delivered the results he and his team had hoped for, but added that he has no regrets about searching for ways to get an edge on his younger rivals.

He said: “It’s about putting the pieces of the puzzle together. We’re constantly trying to find small improvements. It’s hard to reinvent the speedway bike and we’re not trying to do that. We’re just trying to make it a little bit better.

“I have some good people working with me who make a speedway bike not just the simple piece of machinery it is.

“I can’t beat these guys by just turning the throttle. I have to outsmart them and have my kit working absolutely perfectly, so that all I have to do is steer it.”

The current World champion will he raring to go in the next round which takes place in Stockholm on September 26, a venue built just yards away from where he and his wife Jennie brought their first apartment.

Hancock added; “I have never won a round in Sweden and I have always wanted to. It’s a great country and I have a lot of history, family and sponsors there. There are a lot of great people there, who have taken me to another level going back over the last 10 or 15 years. I owe those guys a lot and nothing would feel better than to stand on top of the podium at the Friends Arena.”

Despite Hancock closing the gap, Woffinden admits that he’s “on top of the world” after his second second placed finish in Krsko.

He said: “It would be nice to win a GP. But like I have been saying all season, it’s about collecting points. I’m pleased to be back on the Krsko podium; I was there in 2013 and in the same position.

“I feel on top of the world now. I feel so fit, so healthy and I still feel fresh – it’s like my season is just getting started.”

Third-placed Kildemand was also delighted with his performance, having taken another step closer to a top eight finish after picking up 13 points on the night.

He said: “I just need to push harder to make the top eight. I’m happy with third place and I got the points I needed, so that’s great.”

Pedersen, who ended the night in 4th with 13 points, is now 29 points behind Woffinden in the riders standings, whilst Matej Zagar and Niels-Kristian Iversen, who scored 8 and 11 on the night, are on 89 and 81 points respectively.

Nicki Pedersen Peter Kildemand Slovenian Grand Prix

About Dale Ventham

Dale Ventham is an editor at The Sports Lowdown. He writes on the lower leagues of English football and Speedway in particular.

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