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Speedway Grand Prix: Winless Darcy Ward suffers wobble in Sweden
POOLE’S Darcy Ward lost ground in the Speedway Grand Prix title race having failed to win a heat in Sweden tonight.
The Pirates captain endured a tough time and his fair share of ill fortune with a six-point haul not enough to secure a semi-final slot in Malilla.
Wimborne Road’s number one had started the night a solitary point off top spot in the series but dropped to sixth and some 12 behind Britain’s reigning world champion Tai Woffinden as a result of his slip.
The 22-year-old got off to the worst possible start when he was caught round the outside by Sweden's wildcard Peter Ljung before being passed by Greg Hancock to finish last.
In his brightest start of the night, Ward ripped through the field in heat five and led until the final bend, only to get controversially pipped to the flag in a dramatic dead heat with Nicki Pedersen.
Poole's talisman was neck-and-neck in a three-way battle with former team-mate Chris Holder and Woffinden but was edged out on the final turn of first lap and was unfortunate to finish third.
Ward briefly seemed set for victory having gated well in heat 16 but pulled up his bike onto one wheel and had to make do with second again, this time behind Slovenian Matej Zagar.
Needing to win heat 18, Ward got closed out on first bend despite having the inside track and came in third behind Niels-Kristian Iversen and Troy Batchelor.
There was better news for Ringwood-based Holder, who leapfrogged his Aussie counterpart in the championship standings with a place in the final.
Holder shared top spot with Hancock having matched the American’s 12-point haul before comfortably taking second behind Jaroslaw Hampel in the semi-final.
However, having finished in the top two of each of his heats, the 2012 world champion was forced to settle for third on the rostrum by winner Woffinden and Hancock.
OVERALL STANDINGS (top eight): 1 Tai Woffinden 63, 2 Greg Hancock 62, =3 Chris Holder 55, =3 Nicki Pedersen 55, 5 Matej Zagar 53, 6 Darcy Ward 51, 7 Niels-Kristian Iversen 46, 8 Jaroslaw Hampel 44.
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