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SGP LINE-UP OF THE DECADE | JASON DOYLE

SpeedwayGP fans voted for their FIM Speedway Grand Prix Line- Up of the Decade. This week we profile Jason Doyle.

26 / 02 / 2020, 17:42

SpeedwayGP fans voted for their FIM Speedway Grand Prix Line-Up of the Decade. This week we profile Jason Doyle.

The Aussie icon’s storybook journey to the top of the sport is one of the most inspiring speedway tales of the 2010s as Doyle proved a rider is never too old to make the transformation from good to great.

As recently as 2013, JD was still spending much of his time doubling up in the British leagues. He made his Australian national team debut that summer in the Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup, and he quickly made it clear he wasn’t going to be an occasional performer on the international stage.

Doyle stormed his way to the 2014 GP Challenge in Lonigo, shocking some pundits by claiming second place to qualify for SGP 2015.

While meeting winner Matej Zagar and third-placed Chris Harris were SGP veterans and fourth-placed Maciej Janowski was long-tipped to become a World Championship star, Doyle had never even appeared as a track reserve in the series.

But a decade of league racing experience stood him in good stead as he quickly showed he wouldn’t be pushed around by the sport’s top riders, racing to a fantastic fifth place in his debut season. He also reached his first finals, finishing second in Torun, before crashing out of the Melbourne medal race with neck injuries.

Injuries have rarely been far away from Doyle, who defied years of shoulders struggles to make it to the SGP big-time.

He bounced back in 2016 in fine style, winning his first SGP in Prague, before going on a run that looked like it would lead him to the sport’s biggest prize.

Doyle’s form was electric as he reeled off three straight SGP wins in Gorzow, Teterow and Stockholm to top the World Championship with two rounds to race. But disaster struck at the Torun SGP as a heavy crash on turn three ended his season and left him in hospital with shoulder and lung damage.

The Newcastle-born racer came storming back in 2017, winning in Prague for the second straight season. But his injury curse struck again when he suffered a broken foot in Torun just six days before the Danish SGP at Horsens.

Some riders would have feared their luck wasn’t in at this point. Doyle went under the knife on the Monday, practised on the Friday and powered to fourth place and top spot in the World Championship on the Saturday – watched by his sporting idol Mark Webber, who paid him a pre-meeting visit in the paddock to offer some words of encouragement.

Doyle defied the pain of his injuries to keep piling up the points and went to the decider in Melbourne with a 14-point lead.

Despite that cushion, Doyle wanted to win it in style. He didn’t just become the first Australian speedway rider to be crowned world champion on home shale; he won the Australian SGP too before hitting Melbourne’s city casino in his race suit to kick off the celebrations.

That title triumph at the age of 32 inspired riders all over the world who are yet to reach the top of the sport – proving it’s never too late.

After two seventh-place finishes in 2018 and 2019, Doyle is determined to get back into the title picture this year. And if he brings the same determination that got him there in the first place, you wouldn’t bet against him.

 

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