Greg Hancock admitted his mechanical issues were “way more serious than I had anticipated”, but insisted “I feel like we’re getting there."
The Californian has reached just one semi-final in the opening three FIM Speedway Grand Prix events, scoring 11 points at the first round in Krsko, before struggling to four in Warsaw and five in Daugavpils.
This has left him 12th in the World Championship standings going into the Mitas Czech SGP in Prague on Saturday.
I’m a racer and I hate losing. As much as I put on a brave face, I get torn up heavily and beat myself up pretty badly.
He’s confident things are getting back on track, but he admits regaining his speed has taken plenty of hard work.
He said: “I’m a racer and I hate losing. As much as I put on a brave face, I get torn up heavily and beat myself up pretty badly.
“I feel like we’re getting there. But I have definitely been plagued with some mechanical issues this season.
“I haven’t been in this situation for a long, long time. It’s something I am persevering with and trying to resolve as quickly as possible, but now I’m starting to have to think outside the box and move away from what I am generally doing.
“After Daugavpils, I really understood that this is way more serious than I had anticipated. I’m looking at other areas and trying to expand right now with my equipment. I’m trying new things.
“Desperate times mean desperate measures and I’m not desperate yet. But I am definitely the kind of guy who likes to find solutions. Problems are easy to find, but solutions are always a little harder.”
Hancock isn’t the only Peter Johns-tuned rider whose scores have been below their best this year, with Tai Woffinden enduring a patchy start to the year and Aussie ace Chris Holder struggling.
Asked if he felt the engines were the issue, Hancock replied: “I can’t speak for Peter Johns, but I’m not the kind of guy who throws all his eggs in one basket every year either.
“I’m the kind of guy who is always looking for something new and something a little bit better, whether that’s a new engine, a different frame component or a different exhaust pipe.
“I’m trying to figure it out and I know you can’t blame your engine tuners or mechanics, as much as you can blame yourself for not making the right decisions to change this or that at some stage.
“Everyone has to do their job and it’s difficult, but I’m the kind of guy who has to make the decision quick and say ‘we have to move on and try this’ or ‘we have to move back and do that.’ That’s what we’re doing now.
“I’ll get it right; that’s my game. I don’t sit on things and dwell on them. I try to find a way through it. I want to be good again and I want to be challenging for the most points in the Grand Prix.”
Hancock endured a nightmare first half to his 2010 season; before a win at the Croatian SGP in Gorican saw him regain top form and surge to fifth overall, and he went on to lift the title in 2011.
“I remember 2010,” he said. “It was one of those years where everything that came at me was a test. Right now I have another huge test on my plate and I will fix it.
“I know we’re not far away from getting it right. We had a couple of good things happen in Torun on May 28. I scored 13 points and used different engine combinations. It feels like we made the right move.
“I had another difficult run in Sweden two days later, scoring six paid seven for Piraterna, and that just concludes that what I did in Poland was the way forward.”
Hancock’s changes appear to be paying off, but he accepts he may have made too many tweaks to his equipment in the search for something faster ahead of this season.
He said: “I try things all the time, but sometimes, like I did in 2010, you have to stop yourself and back up. You try new things and sometimes you maybe go a little bit too far. Perhaps that’s exactly what I have done now. I have to get back to basics and not lose focus on what’s happening today.”