NZ Speedway Grand Prix gets off to flying start

The 2014 Speedway GP season got underway in New Zealand on Saturday and we were treated to a classic in Auckland.

The top 15 riders in the world kicked off the season in style Down Under and produced some awesome racing, and we had a shock winner on top of the podium to top off a huge first event.German Martin Smolinski made his SGP debut and nobody expected him to make the top eight, never mind win the whole event, but that’s exactly what he did.The Western Springs Stadium may be one of the most idyllic, tranquil stops on the tour but the racing on the track was red-hot and the riders went elbow to elbow all night.Smolinski was simply awesome and he did it all the hard way, including going from last to first in the Grand Final - passing triple world champion Nicki Pedersen on the last lap to take the flag in front of a packed crowd.It was a mixed night for our Monster Energy athletes - world champ Tai Woffinden was still feeling the effects of his back injury and had a tough night but gritted his teeth to finish on seven points, while Greg Hancock recovered from three zero’s to end his night on two vintage victories, leaving with six.Darcy Ward is the favourite to win the world title this year and he was his typical all-action self, throwing his bike into every corner and cutting some insane shapes. He was looking good for a spot in the semi-final’s until he was accidentally wiped out by Smolinski in his fourth race and went down hard.The Aussie racer was knocked out and left the track in an ambulance but luckily it looks as if he got away with nothing but concussion, and hopefully he’ll be back for round two in Poland.That leaves 2012 champion Chris Holder, who hasn`t raced a GP for 9 months after suffering horrendous injuries last season. Chris had to fight back from a broken hip and heel and still carries a load of metalwork in his foot, but he put in an incredible performance to show that he is well and truly back. He just missed out on a spot in the final after some brilliant rides but he heads back to his UK base with 11 points in the bag and a shed-load more confidence ahead of the season.The real story though, was Smolinski. Nobody expected him to win a race and there he was at the end of the night, stood on top of the box with the biggest smile in the Southern Hemisphere. If the next 11 rounds are anything near as good as this one, then we are in for one hell of a Speedway Grand Prix season.New Zealand Speedway Grand Prix Result1 - Martin Smolinski (15 points)2 - Nicki Pedersen (19 points)3 - Krzysztof Kasprzak (17 points)4 - Freddie Lindgren (13 points)Series Top Eight1 - Nicki Pedersen (19 points)2 - Krzysztof Kasprzak (17 points)3 - Martin Smolinski (15 points)4 - Freddie Lindgren (13 points)5 - Kenneth Bjerre (11 points)6 - Chris Holder (11 points)7 - Jaroslaw Hampel (8 points)8 - Andreas Jonsson (7 points)