Australian sensation Darcy Ward admits two months of injury hell were a blessing in disguise after collecting his maiden Grand Prix win in the Moldow Danish FIM Speedway Grand Prix in Copenhagen on Saturday.
The 21-year-old topped the rostrum at PARKEN ahead of Slovenian racer Matej Zagar, world champion Chris Holder and Polish legend Tomasz Gollob after a titanic tussle with Zagar in the final.
Ward made a racing comeback with his Swedish team Dackarna on Tuesday after spending seven weeks out nursing the broken shoulder blade he suffered in the Fogo Swedish SGP in Gothenburg on May 4. That injury was the culmination of a serious of crashes which plagued a tough start to the year for the Queenslander.
However, Ward says he is back a wiser rider after leaving the Danish capital with 19 points out of a possible 21 and his first Grand Prix win in only his sixth SGP appearance.
Darcy Ward: “I’ve learned a lot of things since I’ve been injured. I’ve been watching the guys and trying to learn as much as I can. The time off helped me a bit and I feel better than ever – I probably wouldn’t change that crash.
“When I came back at the start of the year, I was enjoying it, but I didn’t feel comfortable in a way. I was still going really well, which I was happy with. I was second in the World Championship standings after Bydgoszcz – I was stoked with that. But I think the time off really helped me and I thought about a lot of things.
“I wouldn’t change it after returning like that. I have a long career ahead. I’ve got to move on, keep doing what I’m doing and just enjoy it. It’s such a good life that we have and you’ve got to appreciate it sometimes.
“It has been hard work, but I’ll never forget a moment like this. I’m very proud to be here and very grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given. It’s a dream come true and I felt good all night. It was a perfect night. I’m happy with that.
“There has been a lot of hype about my name and it’s good to finally have the chance to step up here and take a Grand Prix win.”
Asked what he had changed during his injury absence, Ward replied: “It’s just my style – a bit of mental stuff and a bit of fitness too. I’ve stepped it up and it was a great night. I need to keep doing what I’m doing and I need to stay fit. I need to stay on the bike, which is what I didn’t do at the start of the season. It cost me and I need to learn from that.”
After realising a boyhood dream to become a Grand Prix winner, Ward paid tribute to his parents watching at home near Brisbane for their love and support in getting him on to the sport’s biggest stage.
He said: “It’s what you always dream of and it has been a lot of hard work from when I was a kid. My Mum and Dad put their heart and soul into me to get me here. All the credit to them – I love them and I’m very thankful for what they have given me.”
Ward lines up for Torun in their highly-anticipated Polish Ekstraliga battle with local rivals Bydgoszcz on Sunday. He also confirmed rumours he is back in the Poole side and will make his return at Coventry on Friday evening.
He said: “I’m looking forward to that. Poole have been winning recently, but they were struggling there for a long time. We’re the mighty Poole Pirates. We always pick up, push forward and do the fans proud.”
Zagar was over the moon to bounce back from being excluded in heat three by recording 13 points and claiming his second silver medal of 2013. The Ljubljana-born star managed just 10 points in the previous two SGP events combined and was happy to be back on song.
Holder, who is third in the World Championship on 82 points, admits he felt short of speed at PARKEN. But he was pleased to move a point closer to Emil Sayfutdinov, who still leads the table on 97 after exiting in the semi-finals with 13 points.
The Sydneysider said: “It would be nice to be a little bit faster, but if I can still get a few points and get on the podium, that’s a good job for me. I swapped bikes and that was better. I just need that little bit more speed and that comes down to a few things – me, the bike. It’s getting there and I’m happy to be in this position.
The meeting saw Swedish duo Andreas Jonsson and Fredrik Lindgren crash out. AJ has sustained a broken shoulder and ribs, while Lindgren suffered a broken arm. Both are major doubts for the Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup, which gets underway with Event 1 at Czestochowa on July 13 and Event 2 at King’s Lynn on July 15.
Moldow Danish SGP Points
1 Darcy Ward 19
2 Matej Zagar 13
3 Chris Holder 14
4 Tomasz Gollob 10
5 Emil Sayfutdinov 13
6 Tai Woffinden 11
7 Greg Hancock 9
8 Fredrik Lindgren 8
9 Nicki Pedersen 7
10 Jaroslaw Hampel 6 …etc
World Championship Standings
1 Emil Sayfutdinov 97
2 Tai Woffinden 84
3 Chris Holder 82
4 Jaroslaw Hampel 72
5 Nicki Pedersen 71
6 Greg Hancock 66
7 Niels-Kristian Iversen 64
8 Tomasz Gollob 62
9 Matej Zagar 61
10 Fredrik Lindgren 55
11 Krzysztof Kasprzak 54
12 Darcy Ward 44 …etc