Tai Woffinden will be the only Brit in the 2013 Speedway Grand Prix series after being handed a wild card
British star Tai Woffinden has been handed a place in the 2013 Speedway Grand Prix Series.
By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @skygraemebailey
Last Updated: 17/10/12 6:11pm
Each year four riders are handed permanent places in the series, alongside the eight automatic qualifiers and the three riders who come from the Grand Prix Challenge.
Woffinden makes a return to the series having previously ridden in 2010 and he will be the only British rider present with Chris Harris over-looked, bringing to an an end a run six-year spell at speedway's top table.
The other three spots were unsurprising selections in the shape of Pole Jarek Hampel - who missed a huge chunk of this season through injury, Slovak ace Martin Vaculik - who impressed so much as a mid-season replacement in the series, and Poole's brilliant young Australian Darcy Ward.
BSI Speedway managing director Paul Bellamy is delighted with next year's field and expects an even more competitive fight for the World Championship.
He said: "This season's title race has been one of the best in the competition's history. We had 12 rounds and nine different winners. With an even stronger field for 2013, the battle for SGP wins and the world title will be fiercer than ever.
"We're delighted to give Jarek (Hampel) another shot at the title and I'm sure he will bounce back after a 2012 season blighted by the broken ankle he suffered in Copenhagen. He won silver in 2010, bronze in 2011 and I believe he will be targeting gold in 2013.
"It is also great to see three of the sport's most promising young talents, Martin, Darcy and Tai, take their places in the line-up. They will be hungry to make an impact and upset the more established guys at the top."
Commenting on the selection, Roy Otto, CCP director, said: "Competition for places is very intense and this can only be good news for the SGP series. I believe we have selected four talented riders who have what it takes to compete with the very best speedway riders in the world. Chris Holder will have to be at his very best to hang on to the trophy next season."
Vaculik gets the nod for a nominated rider place after serving as this season's SGP series first reserve. The 22-year-old made an explosive impact on the competition, winning on his Grand Prix debut in Gorzow on June 23.
The first Slovak rider in the series' history also finished fourth in the FIM Fogo Italian SGP and earned 11th place in the World Championship, despite racing in just six of the 12 rounds.
Hampel returns to the competition after sitting out four of this term's events through injury. The Polish star is desperate to regain his fitness and his place on the rostrum.
Woffinden is back in the series after a two-year absence. Great Britain's sole representative is keen to build on a strong FIM Monster Energy Speedway World Cup performance for the Lions in July and a string of solid league scores in the UK, Sweden and Poland.
And two-time FIM Speedway Under-21 world champion Ward makes his much anticipated, full-time World Championship debut after taking the sport by storm. The Australian international finished third as a wild card in last year's Torun SGP and is being hotly tipped to add to that bronze medal next season. The calendar for the 2013 SGP series will be announced in due course.
2013 FIM SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX LINE-UP:
1. Chris Holder (Australia)
2. Nicki Pedersen (Denmark)
3. Greg Hancock (USA)
4. Tomasz Gollob (Poland)
5. Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia)
6. Antonio Lindback (Sweden)
7. Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden)
8. Andreas Jonsson (Sweden)
9. Martin Vaculik (Slovakia)
10. Jaroslaw Hampel (Poland)
11. Krzysztof Kasprzak (Poland)
12. Matej Zagar (Slovenia)
13. Niels Kristian Iversen (Denmark)
14. Tai Woffinden (Great Britain)
15. Darcy Ward (Australia)
16. Wild Card
17. Track Reserve 1
18. Track Reserve 2
19. Ales Dryml (Czech Republic)
20. Leon Madsen (Denmark)
21. Troy Batchelor (Australia)
22. Hans Andersen (Denmark)
23. Peter Ljung (Sweden)