Australian skipper Troy Batchelor hopes his side’s epic Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup Race Off triumph in Prague on Thursday will give them the edge in Saturday’s final.
FIM Speedway Grand Prix star Darcy Ward won a last-heat decider to hand Australia victory on 36 points.
Australia is without World Champion Chris Holder who is facing a lengthy period on the sidelines following a broken hip, shoulder and heel in an horrific crash at Coventry.
The Roos join the Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark in the last four after a dramatic victory in one of the most closely contested Race Offs ever witnessed.
The USA may have been tipped to exit the Monster Energy SWC as early as Event 2 on Monday, but they produced an heroic performance to finish second in the Race Off on 31 and still could have qualified for the Final going into heat 20.
Latvia capped their greatest ever Monster Energy SWC by finishing third on 29, while Team Great Britain were fourth on 28.
All four nations could have won the meeting going into the penultimate heat, but the Aussies got the verdict and Batchelor hopes his team will put their Marketa Stadium experience to the best possible use on Saturday.
Troy Batchelor: “We always seem to go through the Race Off. It’s the hard road, but we’ve had a meeting on the track, whereas everyone else has just been watching. I think that will help us a lot on Saturday and I think we’re going to be battling for a silver or bronze medal.
“This meeting is crucial. When we did it in Gorzow two years ago, we nearly won the gold medal. We came through the Race Off, won that and we knew what to do. Setup in speedway is 90 percent of the race. I think we learnt a lot about the track and I hope we can use it to our advantage.”
The Poles and Danes are red-hot favourites to claim the Ove Fundin Trophy in the Czech capital.
But Batchelor admits the USA’s unlikely charge to fifth place in the tournament has inspired him and Australian team-mates Darcy Ward, Jason Doyle and Cameron Woodward to upset the odds.
He added: “It’s tough, but anything can happen. No-one was thinking about America and, all of a sudden, they were close to winning the Race Off. We’re going to have a little bit of practice on Friday afternoon and try a few more things.
“I’m pumped for this win. I’m proud of everyone. We did an awesome job, and without Chris Holder – the world champ. Being without him hurts us a lot. But we’re in the Final and I think we can grab a medal. That would be an amazing result with the riders we’ve got.”
MONSTER ENERGY SWC FINAL LINE-UPS
1. Darcy Ward
2. Cameron Woodward
3. Jason Doyle
4. Troy Batchelor (captain)
Team Manager: Mark Lemon
1. Jaroslaw Hampel (captain)
2. Krzysztof Kasprzak
3. Patryk Dudek
4. Maciej Janowski
Team Manager: Marek Cieslak
CZECH REPUBLIC (WHITE)
1. Vaclav Milik
2. Ales Dryml (captain)
3. Lukas Dryml
4. Josef Franc
Team Manager: Milan Spinka
1. Nicki Pedersen
2. Kenneth Bjerre
3. Niels-Kristian Iversen (captain)
4. Michael Jepsen Jensen
Team Manager: Anders Secher