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Speedway: Legend Greg fears Darcy in Grand Prix
SPEEDWAY king Greg Hancock predicted great things for Darcy Ward after the Pirates prince had been elevated into the company of shale sport royalty.
Hancock last night lauded the decision to hand the hugely talented prospect a permanent Grand Prix wild card for next year’s series.
Together with Tai Woffinden, Jaroslaw Hampel and Martin Vaculik, Ward was yesterday confirmed as one of the four nominated selections.
The two-times world under-21 champion had been widely tipped for a wild card following a string of sensational performances in league racing around Europe.
Legend Hancock believes the 20-year-old Pirates number one will be keen to immediately launch a challenge for the title currently held by fellow Turbo Twin Chris Holder.
Asked how Ward could fare in his debut campaign, Hancock told the Daily Echo: “That is entirely up to him. I don’t think he will have that big a problem.
“The guy has showed his talent and he is definitely going to be one to show his strength early on.
“If he can keep his cool and stay injury free – which we all want to do – he has got a serious future ahead of him.”
Speaking to the Echo last week, former world champion and ex-Pirates captain Gary Havelock said Ward could win the title in his first season.
Champion in 1997 and 2011, Hancock has finished outside the GP top six just twice during a glittering career. Outlining the different challenges facing Ward in the GP, Hancock explained: “It gets more difficult and you are suddenly an individual and not with a team of guys like you had been before.
“You have a team of mechanics behind you but, on track, you are all for yourself. That changes things slightly and separates some guys from the rest in many of the cases. But a guy like Darcy, I don’t think that is something that will really bother him. He is out there to do exactly what Chris Holder did this year.”
Hancock, one of the finest riders on the planet at the age of 42, believes GP organisers have made a “very good decision” in selecting Ward.
The popular Californian added: “I have ridden against Darcy quite a number of times over the past couple of years in league racing, both in Poland and Sweden.
“It doesn’t get any easier – that’s for sure. It brings more of a challenge to the group and will make it much more interesting.”
Grand Prix Challenge winner Krzysztof Kasprzak completes a Pirates quartet alongside Ward, defending champion Holder and club asset Antonio Lindback.
Full 2013 GP line-up: Chris Holder (Australia), Nicki Pedersen (Denmark), Greg Hancock (USA), Tomasz Gollob (Poland), Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia), Antonio Lindback (Sweden), Freddie Lindgren (Sweden), Andreas Jonsson (Sweden), Martin Vaculik (Slovakia), Jaroslaw Hampel (Poland), Krzysztof Kasprzak (Poland), Matej Zagar (Slovenia), Niels Kristian Iversen (Denmark), Tai Woffinden (Great Britain), Darcy Ward (Australia).