Darcy Ward has spent all week in and out of hospital and didn't even practice for the European Speedway Grand Prix, but still he put on a masterclass and was half a bike away from winning the thing in an awesome performance.
Darcy broke his thumb and tore his knee ligaments in a huge crash in the New Zealand Grand Prix three weeks ago, but he decided to take his place in the lineup on Saturday and grit his teeth.
Well grit his teeth he did and what a show he put on. Bydgoszcz is known as one of the best racetracks in the world and we saw why again, and Darcy was in the thick of the action.
After a slow start he found his mojo and showed exactly why he’s the biggest talent in the sport with some truly breathtaking manoeuvres - including a win where he carved up the two most experienced guys in the field.
He qualified for the semi’s and managed to keep out team-mate Chris Holder in another amazing battle, and that put him through to the final with the evergreen Greg Hancock and home favourites Jarek Hampel and Krzysztof Hampel.
The two Poles were out of the gate first but from nowhere Darcy found some speed and got past them both, and it looked like he was about to defy all the odds and get the most unlikely win.
Heartbreak for Darcy though when Kasprzak built immense speed and came crashing through on the run to the line, snatching the win by half a bike’s length.It was a huge disappointment for Darcy to lose the victory but it was an awesome night for a man nowhere near fully fit, and he collected 16 points from his night.He was pretty stoked to make the podium; “There were some hectic battles out there and looking back I should have kept the inside line on the run but he was quicker than me all night so fair play to him, second will do me.
“I got good points, I would have taken nine points so 16 is awesome. The first three races were tough with the injury, I had to adapt to riding a bit different and keeping my leg up but I got there after a few races. I’ll get some rest now and make sure I’m ready for the next round.”
It was a good night for Darcy’s fellow Monster Energy athlete Greg Hancock, who topped the qualifying score chart with some vintage wins. He was like a rocket from the start and then showed he could do it the hard way too, but he just missed out on a podium place after coming last in the final.
Chris Holder is showing more and more signs that he’s going to get back to his best very soon, only Greg and Darcy denied him a place in the final but he left with a healthy 11 points. World champ Tai Woffinden is struggling with his engines and he just didn’t have the speed to compete, but he’ll be back mixing it at the top soon enough.
Next time out the tour visits Finland for the first time, with Tampere the destination for Round Three of the 2014 Speedway Grand Prix Series.
EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX RESULTS
1 - Krzysztof Kasprzak - 18 points2 - Darcy Ward - 16 points3 - Jarek Hampel - 14 points4 - Greg Hancock - 16 points
SERIES TOP EIGHT
1 - Krzysztof Kasprzak - 35 points2 - Nicki Pedersen - 24 points3 - Jarek Hampel - 22 points4 - Greg Hancock - 22 points5 - Chris Holder - 22 points6 - Martin Smolinski - 22 points7 - Darcy Ward - 21 points8 - Fredrik Lindgren - 18 points