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Hancock edges out Ward in GP thriller
PIRATES duo Greg Hancock and Darcy Ward battled out a thrilling finish to the Latvian Grand Prix last night – with the American prevailing to claim his first gold medal of the season.
Hancock, who recently teamed up with Ward at Wimborne Road, completed a hat-trick of Daugavpils wins, adding to his 2006 and 2009 victories at the Lokomotiv Stadium.
The 43-year-old Californian fended off second-placed Ward and new world championship leader Tai Woffinden to maintain his bid for a third title.
Hancock, who was knocked out following a crash with Troy Batchelor in a meeting in Poland in April, climbed from eighth to sixth in the standings and is now just seven points behind third-placed Jaroslaw Hampel.
The American told speedwaygp.com: “This means everything. It has been a hard year. I had a good start in New Zealand when I came fourth and just tried to hold the form. But the crash knocked me back. It is hard to come back from big hits and that was one of my bigger ones over the years.
“Since then, I have taken a slow pace back up to winning ways. I feel great now and have no problems with anything.
“I am just getting comfortable and feeling at one with my bike. It has been getting better week after week and I feel I am back on track.
“There are still three very important rounds to go that can put me back in the medal chase if all goes to plan. This is another stepping stone.
“We are going to another new venue in Stockholm on September 21, which should be interesting for everybody, so we will see what happens there.
“But I am charged, I am ready to go and I have got to make it happen. I love winning.”
Runner-up Ward climbed to 10th on 68 points and remains 14 adrift of injured fellow countryman Chris Holder (pictured), who occupies the eighth and final automatic qualification position for the 2014 series.
Ward said: “I was hanging it out there. It was a final and that is what you do. But I could not catch the old master Greg.
“I am getting closer to the goal. I have a few more rounds and I need to keep putting in the good performances and also go back to the drawing board and learn how to gate.”
GP standings (top-10): 1 Tai Woffinden 117, 2 Emil Sayfutdinov 114, 3 Jaroslaw Hampel 96, 4 Nicki Pedersen 94, 5 Niels-Kristian Iversen 90, 6 Greg Hancock 89, 7 Matej Zagar 84, 8 Chris Holder 82, 9 Tomasz Gollob 73, 10 Darcy Ward 68.
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