PIRATES promoter Matt Ford has backed Hans Andersen to seal his return to the world championship.

Danish star Andersen is this afternoon due to line up at German track Olching for a Grand Prix qualifying semi-final, with the top seven guaranteed progress.

The last stage of qualifying is the GP Challenge, due to take place at Russian venue Togliatti in August, where the top three will bank spots in next year's series.

Andersen reached the GP Challenge in 2016 but could not take part after he sustained a broken finger on his clutch hand in a crash at Leicester.

Ford told the Daily Echo: "Hans was very unlucky last year. I felt he had the ability to do it and I still feel he does now.

"He has been riding very well and I can see he is happy.

"It is going to be two very strong semi-finals and we will just have to wait and see. It's a long, hard push to qualify but Hans certainly has the ability."

The second semi-final is set to take place in Terenzano, Italy on Saturday.

Grand Prix qualifying semi-final one: Mikkel Michelsen, Adrian Miedzinski, Maksim Bogdanow, Martin Vaculik, Leon Madsen, Martin Smolinski, Hans Andersen, Kjastas Puodzuks, Kai Huckenbeck, Andriej Karpow, Piotr Pawlicki, Kenneth Bjerre, Oliver Berntzon, Chris Harris, Peter Ljung, Mateusz Szczepaniak.