DEFIANT Pirates star Darcy Ward belied his injury woes to secure second spot in the European Speedway Grand Prix in Poland tonight.

Having made a swift return from a broken thumb, concussion and soft tissue damage picked up during the series opener in Auckland three weeks ago, the Aussie ace was fearless on his return, scooping three heat wins and 16 precious points in Bydgoszcz.

Poole’s captain showed no ill effects from his collision with Martin Smolinski in New Zealand and flew up the inside of the German to take second spot in heat four before being held off by second-placed Holder to finish third in the eighth race.

However, speedway’s rising star was not to be denied and followed up with a comfortable victory in the ninth having gated well.

The 21-year-old then became the first man to get the better of Greg Hancock, who had won his first three races, coming from nowhere to win heat 15 on the final bend and went on to bag his third success with a barnstorming performance in heat 18.

Ward exacted revenge on fellow Turbo Twin Holder by edging second spot in the semi-final and finished behind winner Krzysztof Kasprzak in the final showdown.

Holder, currently deputising for his compatriot at Wimborne Road, got off to a sticky start and only just pipped Kenneth Bjerre to third place before taking second in heat 10 behind Hancock.

The 2012 world champion trumped Belle Vue number one Matej Zagar in heat 13 and finished second to Jaroslaw Hampel in heat 19 to book his place in the semi-final.

Holder’s 11-point haul ensured he joined Ward in the thick of the chasing pack after two meetings, with Kasprzak having already built a healthy 11-point lead at the summit over second-placed Dane Nicki Pedersen.

SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX STANDINGS (top eight, after two meetings)

1 Krzysztof Kasprzak 35, 2 Nicki Pedersen 24, =3 Jaroslaw Hampel, Greg Hancock, Chris Holder, Martin Smolinski 22, 7 Darcy Ward 21, 8 Fredrik Lindgren 18.