World champ Tai is ready to be the target at Arlington

Tai Woffinden shakes hands with Lewis Bridger on a visit to Arlington in 2009

Tai Woffinden shakes hands with Lewis Bridger on a visit to Arlington in 2009

First published in Sport by

Tai Woffinden admits he will have a target on his back at Arlington.

But speedway’s British world champion insists that will not inhibit his efforts to help dent Eastbourne’s home record.

Woffinden visits the East Sussex track for the tenth time in his Elite League career as top man for Wolverhampton Wolves tomorrow (7.30pm).

But life is very different this season after he became the first Brit to rule the world since former Eagles star Mark Loram back in 2000.

Eagles are keen to build on an encouraging turnout of 1,200 for the Good Friday derby against Lakeside and Woffinden’s visit between GPs comes at a perfect time.

They have promoted tomorrow’s meeting as a chance to see the world champ.

And fans will interpret that as a chance to see the world champ beaten by their own favourites.

Woffinden told The Argus: “I’ve got a target on my back and I knew that as soon as I won the title so I was ready for it.

“I’ve done all I can to promote the sport as world champion and clubs should try and capitalise on that, as some have done.

“If my presence helps attendance levels then that’s good.

“I’ve never turned any media or PR work down since I became champion. I’ve wanted to help raise the profile of the sport at this time so it’s been good to do the TV and radio appearances. It’s good for me on a personal level too.”

Woffinden has not always shone at Arlington but admits he is due an upturn in form after a tough start to 2014.

A new race format means the leading riders meet each other more often.

He said: “It’s all been tough for me so far this season. I’ve just not been going well but I know what the problem is.

“I guess the top boys meet each other a lot more but, to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

“I have to stay motivated at all times this season because of my schedule. I’m busier than ever.

“I enjoy riding for Wolverhampton. They have always been good to me and I’m pleased to be riding for them as world champion.

“Because things haven’t been going well there’s been plenty of motivation. I’m desperate to get things right.”

Eagles will tackle the world champ and his colleagues without Mikkel Michelsen, who has a World Under-21 Championship meeting in Germany.

All home riders are eligible for an extra outing as they operate rider-replacement to cover for the Danish heat-leader.

Wolves have hired Birmingham rider Adam Skornicki, who has gone well in two outings at Eastbourne already this term, as guest for Piotr Pawlicki, who is also on under-21 duty.

Eagles need to make up for dropping a home point to Lakeside.

Their boss Trevor Geer said: “Of course, it is great news for British speedway that Tai is world champion but my job is to get Eagles all firing and to ensure we win the three league points on offer.”

Eagles: Michelsen r/r, Lahti, Kylmakorpi, Woodward, Pedersen, Blackbird, Halsey.

Wolverhampton: Woffinden, Thorssell, Proctor, Wells, Skornicki, Jacobs, Morris


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