New world champ Jason Doyle revealed a boat trip with FIM Speedway Grand Prix greats Tony Rickardsson and Leigh Adams inspired his sensational surge into the sport’s most elite club in Melbourne tonight.
The Newcastle-born racer became Australia’s sixth speedway world champion and the first to be crowned Down Under as he stormed to an unforgettable victory in the QBE Insurance Australian SGP ahead of Tai Woffinden, Bartosz Zmarzlik and Patryk Dudek.
It was a dream night for the 32-year-old, who has defied the pain of the right foot he shattered in Torun four months ago to take his place in history, with series runner-up Dudek and bronze medallist Woffinden joining him on the World Championship rostrum.
Doyle’s determination is the stuff of legend and nothing inspires him more than being underestimated.
As he emerged through the ranks, many in Aussie speedway were tipping 2012 world champion Chris Holder and Darcy Ward for big things. But he admits there was no way he was going to allow the Turbo Twins to hog the limelight after producing one of the greatest nights in Australian speedway history.
He said: “There was one big moment in my career when I sat on a speedboat in Mildura. Rickardsson and Adams were talking about Darcy and Chris and how they were going to be the next best thing.
“I thought ‘hang on, I want to be part of this.’ I want to work hard and be in the same category as them.
“So from then on, I worked very hard and did it all behind the scenes. I tried to get to where we are now and not many people thought it was possible for me to win a world title.
“The last couple of years has been very hard with injuries, but it was all worth it tonight. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to train hard and do the right things. It all worked out in the end.”
Doyle admits he has been a tough man to live with over the past few weeks as he waited for his chance to seal gold, after falling just short of finishing the job in Torun three weeks ago.
He said: “My wife Emily deserves this trophy as much as me because she has been to hell and back.
“The last two weeks I have been a human calculator, trying to work out what was going to happen if I got five points, six points.
“But today I just thought ‘win it or bin it’ – the same as I have done all year. I rode pretty hard and it worked in the first three rides and flowed from there. Once that monkey of the title came off my back, it just seemed to work.
“We have worked very hard. I have done a lot of work behind the scenes and so have the boys. It has finally come together and it’s just perfect. This was a perfect night and hopefully it sinks in one day because tonight, it still hasn’t at the moment.”
Doyle hailed his mechanics Dave and Sam Haynes, Johno Birks and Mark Seabright for their role in an historic season as they provided the ice to his fire. He said: “They have been through so many hard times with me. It has been a great couple of years, but having Dave and Johno, as well as Mark and Sam, has really helped me in my career.
“Dave is a very placid guy and I’ve got a bit of a temper. It’s nice to have that happy medium when you come to a race meeting.
“This is a special moment for me and the team. It’s not just all about me; it’s about how hard they have worked for the last five years. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
Doyle admits he and his crew were written off and branded ‘amateurs’ by one particularly venomous critic, who remains anonymous.
“The first couple of years, they thought we were going to be knocked out of the Grand Prix straight away and not be in the top eight,” he said. “But that was another incentive to do as well as possible. That guy who said we were only amateurs has a hard pill to swallow now we’ve just won a world title.”
Doyle races two more meetings Down Under, before jetting back to Europe where he will undergo surgery to finally fix his broken foot.
“I have to go and get a bone graft when I go back to Poland in three weeks time,” he revealed. “Not many people knew I was riding with a shattered foot still. I just needed to carry on and get through the last couple of meetings.
“This is hopefully a simple fix. They’re going to do a bone graft on my foot to fix the last broken bone. There are still three bones that are broken in the foot, but once I get off the bike, it’s going to heal a lot better than while I’m riding all the time.
“We have done about 100 meetings this year, so it has been quite difficult. The pain is alright. I just can’t run and this is the biggest problem. I want to try and lose as much weight as possible.
“I guess the training side has really suffered, but when you get on a motorbike and you have all the adrenaline pumping, it just changes. You just need to focus on winning races, and it worked.”
This year’s broken foot has been far from Doyle’s only injury battle, with years of shoulder strife slowing his progress to the top of the sport.
He said: “There has been many a time, when I’ve been left in hospital with the shoulder out. I had 11 dislocated shoulders – that was hard to swallow. I didn’t think it was ever going to be stable again.
“Having an operation in Barcelona last year is something I wish I’d done nine years ago. It stabilised my shoulder that well, I could ride a motorbike to the level I did tonight.
“Injuries are part and parcel of the sport, but you just don’t want to be having them every year. It seems like every year I am ending up in hospital.”
Doyle’s 2016 title dream was ended by a season ending crash in Torun, which left him with elbow, shoulder and lung damage and denied him the chance to claim gold at the Etihad Stadium 12 months ago.
While some will say Doyle could have been a two-time world champ by now, the man himself isn’t bitter about that lost opportunity.
“This is all about a learning curve,” he said. “The first world title slipped away through injury and you can’t be negative about these things. What happened, happened in Torun in 2016. Tonight just sums up what a great year we’ve had.”
Polish racer Patryk Dudek became the first rider to finish in the World Championship’s top two in his debut season since the SGP series was launched in 1995, and he was delighted to see his efforts pay off with a place in the history books.
He said: “I am ecstatic because I am the first rider to get second position in their first season. I am very happy. This is my work and I work hard all the time. I am the second rider in the world now.”
World Championship bronze medallist Tai Woffinden was delighted with his fourth podium place in five years, and it’s an impressive run he’s keen to maintain. “It was really good,” he said. “It was nice to get on the podium here. We were chasing a medal for the first half of the meeting and I secured that going into the semis. Then it was all about trying to win the GP.
“I am happy with the result. I got the bronze and it’s one of my worst finishes in the last five years. If I can stay like that for the rest of my career, it will be pretty good.”
World champion Doyle is joined in securing automatic qualification for the 2018 World Championship by Dudek, Woffinden, Maciej Janowski, Bartosz Zmarzlik, Emil Sayfutdinov, Matej Zagar and Fredrik Lindgren. They will meet GP Challenge qualifiers Przemyslaw Pawlicki, Artem Laguta and Craig Cook. The final four places in the 2018 competition will be taken by four wild-card picks made by the SGP Commission.
FINAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Jason Doyle 161, 2 Patryk Dudek 143, 3 Tai Woffinden 131, 4 Maciej Janowski 122, 5 Bartosz Zmarzlik 121, 6 Emil Sayfutdinov 117, 7 Matej Zagar 107, 8 Fredrik Lindgren 107, 9 Martin Vaculik 99, 10 Chris Holder 85, 11 Piotr Pawlicki 81, 12 Antonio Lindback 77, 13 Peter Kildemand 60, 14 Greg Hancock 45, 15 Niels-Kristian Iversen 44, 16 Vaclav Milik 31, 17 Martin Smolinski 25, 18 Max Fricke 11, 19 Pawel Przedpelski 10, 20 Nicki Pedersen 8, 21 Michael Jepsen Jensen 8, 22 Maksims Bogdanovs 8, 23 Kenneth Bjerre 7, 24 Krzysztof Kasprzak 6, 25 Rohan Tungate 6, 26 Kai Huckenbeck 4, 27 Jacob Thorssell 4, 28 Justin Sedgmen 4, 29 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 3, 30 Dave Watt 3, 31 Brady Kurtz 3, 32 Craig Cook 2, 33 Linus Sundstrom 2, 34 Sam Masters 2, 35 Kim Nilsson 2, 36 Josh Bates 2, 37 Nick Skorja 1.
QBE INSURANCE AUSTRALIAN SGP SCORES: 1 Jason Doyle 19, 2 Tai Woffinden 16, 3 Bartosz Zmarzlik 13, 4 Patryk Dudek 15, 5 Matej Zagar 10, 6 Martin Vaculik 9, 7 Maciej Janowski 9, 8 Emil Sayfutdinov 8, 9 Rohan Tungate 6, 10 Martin Smolinski 6, 11 Peter Kildemand 6, 12 Antonio Lindback 4, 13 Justin Sedgmen 4, 14 Brady Kurtz 3, 15 Chris Holder 3, 16 Dave Watt 3, 17 Sam Masters 2, 18 Piotr Pawlicki 2.