SGP LINE-UP OF THE DECADE | GREG HANCOCK
You voted for your SGP Line-Up of the Decade. And we round off our series on the stars of the 2010s with the legend that is Greg Hancock.
20 / 05 / 2020, 12:40
You voted for your SGP Line-Up of the Decade. And we round off our series on the stars of the 2010s with one of the decade’s most successful riders – American legend Greg Hancock.
The Californian’s SGP career spanned three different decades after he competed in the first SGP event at Wroclaw in 1995, before racing his final round at the 2018 Torun SGP.
As decades go, there’s no doubt Hancock saved his best for last. Despite winning his first world title way back in 1997, he got a second wind in the 2010s – although wind is putting it mildly.
Hurricane Hancock made landfall in late 2010 and ripped through the competition until 2018, before he sat out 2019 and retired in February this year to support wife Jennie through her battle with breast cancer.
His SGP stats are nothing short of staggering. He has made 218 SGP appearances in total and scored 2,655 points from 1,248 heats – both records. Two more records he holds are the most heat wins at 455 and his 92 SGP final appearances.
When the decade began, some feared Hancock’s powers may be waning as he found himself 10th in the World Championship after six rounds and battling for SGP survival.
That was until Grin hit the workshop, came up with a winning formula and raced to a career-changing victory at the 2010 Croatian SGP in Gorican on a hot Sunday afternoon.
His fortunes were only going one way from that point on, and his form in 2011 was historic. He topped the box in Prague, Cardiff and Vojens, reaching a total of six finals on his way to a first world title in 14 years – making him the oldest world champion ever – only to break his own record twice.
If that season rewrote history, Hancock was only just getting started. After finishing third in 2012 and fourth in 2013, he blazed back to the top of the sport again in 2014.
Even missing the Nordic SGP in Vojens due to a broken finger couldn’t stop America’s finest as he reached eight finals in the 11 rounds he raced, topping the podium in Cardiff, on his way to title No.3.
Britain’s Tai Woffinden, who also claimed a hat-trick of world titles in the 2010s, forced Hancock to settle for second spot in 2015. But Grin’s unforgettable seven-ride maximum at the season-closing Australian SGP in Melbourne set the tone for 2016.
He dropped out of double figures twice all season that year. Hancock held on to become a quadruple world champion despite an astonishing challenge from Jason Doyle – who won four SGPs, only to be denied the title when he crashed at the penultimate round in Torun.
Grin’s 2017 season was wrecked by a freak fall on the stairs at his European base in Sweden, leaving him with a badly dislocated shoulder that forced him to miss the second half of the campaign.
But Hancock bounced back in 2018, reaching four finals on his way to fifth place in the SGP standings in what turned out to be his final campaign on the sport’s biggest stage.
There’s no doubt one of the sport’s all-time greats will be missed on the track. But we hope he won’t be a stranger off it as one of speedway’s most popular figures races into the next chapter of his life.