Grand Prix: Poole Pirates' Darcy Ward narrowly misses out on semi-final spot in Finland comeback

BACK IN ACTION: Darcy Ward

BACK IN ACTION: Darcy Ward

First published in Sport
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Bournemouth Echo: Photograph of the Author by

DARCY Ward missed out on a semi-final place at the first-ever Finnish Grand Prix as the Pirates charger made his comeback from a serious knee injury.

The Aussie, who sustained a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in the opening round in New Zealand on April 5, scored eight points from five qualifying rides on a tricky Tampere circuit.

Troy Batchelor’s victory in heat 20 denied Ward a last-eight spot in the 22-year-old’s first meeting in nearly two weeks.

Fresh off the back of completing a temporary spell at Pirates, Ringwood's Chris Holder made the second semi-final but pulled up early on.

Belle Vue number one Matej Zagar overhauled reigning world champion Tai Woffinden to triumph in the grand final.

Polish star Krzysztof Kasprzak, who did not race due to a knee injury, maintained his lead in the world championship standings.

Two-time world under-21 champion Ward finished third in his opening ride despite chasing Andreas Jonsson hard, with Holder triumphing from the gate.

Holder added a second win soon after but heat eight was another frustrating affair for Ward as he was repeatedly blocked off by heat winner and New Zealand champ Martin Smolinski.

All over the back wheel of Zagar in heat 10, Ward was forced to settle for third as passing lines proved limited round the narrow circuit.

Holder secured a straightforward second behind broken collarbone victim Kenneth Bjerre and in heat 13, Ward nipped inside triple world champion Nicki Pedersen for second.

Profiting from Kauko Nieminen’s mistake on the final bend of heat 16, Holder racked up another two points and although he ran a last in heat 18, his semi-final place was already secure.

Ward seemed to have earned a semi berth in heat 19 after shaking off the attentions of Nieminen for second on the back straight, only for Swindon’s Troy Batchelor to push the Aussie out of the top eight in heat 20.

Holder’s night came to a close when he pulled up while fourth in the second semi, leaving him fourth in the overall standings.

Finnish Grand Prix result: 1 Matej Zagar 15, 2 Tai Woffinden 16, 3 Freddie Lindgren 12, 4 Greg Hancock 12, 5 Chris Holder 10, 6 Nicki Pedersen 10, 7 Troy Batchelor 10, 8 Martin Smolinski 9, 9 Darcy Ward 8, 10 Andreas Jonsson 7, 11 Jarek Hampel  7, 12 Niels-Kristian Iversen 6, 13 Joonas Kylmakorpi 5, 14 Kauko Nieminen 4, 15 Chris Harris 4, 16 Kenneth Bjerre 3.

Grand Prix standings after round three (top 12): 1 Krzysztof Kasprzak 35, 2= Nicki Pedersen 34, 2= Greg Hancock 34, 4 Chris Holder 32, 5 Martin Smolinski 31, 6 Freddie Lindgren 30, 7= Darcy Ward 29, 7= Jarek Hampel 29, 9 Tai Woffinden 28, 10 Matej Zagar 27, 11 Andreas Jonsson 24, 12 Niels-Kristian Iversen 22.

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