FROM GILLMAN TO THE GRAND PRIX?
Australian Championship challenger Troy Batchelor says his time is coming on the world stage as he sets off on the road to SGP qualification
04 / 01 / 2013, 15:19
Australian Championship challenger Troy Batchelor says his time is coming on the world stage as he sets off on the arduous road to SGP qualification at Gillman on Saturday.
The Aussie international, 25, starts as one of the favourites to win the three-round national championship this year along with Davey Watt.
Batchelor, who lives in Adelaide, hopes to make the most of home advantage and take a big stride towards his maiden Aussie title in the absence of Grand Prix stars Chris Holder and Darcy Ward.
Another big prize at stake is one of four places in the SGP qualification rounds, which culminate in the GP Challenge at Batchelor’s 2007 British home track Poole on August 24.
The Brisbane-born man suffered bike problems in the epic five-man run-off for second and third place in this year’s Challenge at Gorican, which saw Matej Zagar and Niels-Kristian Iversen earn SGP spots and Ales Dryml and Leon Madsen take the first and second reserve berths respectively.
Batchelor admits he hasn’t progressed on to the world stage at the breathtaking pace of some of his peers. But he is determined to complete his journey to speedway’s top table at Wimborne Road in eight months.
As a rider, I feel I am getting better every year. Iâ€™m taking slow steps. Not everyone is like Emil Sayfutdinov â€“ winning Grand Prix rounds at 19 years of age.
He said: “As a rider, I feel I am getting better every year. I’m taking slow steps. Not everyone is like Emil Sayfutdinov – winning Grand Prix rounds at 19 years of age. Some people take a bit longer to get there, but I feel I’m getting slowly better.
“I only just missed out in the GP qualifier, so I was a lot closer than a lot of people and a lot closer than I’ve been in the past. I had never been to the track in Croatia before. It was tough racing and a lot of people were stealing points off each other. We had five riders on 10 points.
“It was tough to have a bike defect and miss out on going into the GP. That hurt after going so close and going so far.
“It’s a long road to get to the Challenge and it’s a hard road – some of the tracks we race on are really tough. But Poole is definitely a cool track and every time I go there in 2013, I’ll be thinking about the GP qualifier.”
Batchelor crashed hard after making an over-zealous move on Kozza Smith in last year’s Aussie Championship opener at North Brisbane.
Smith was left sidelined for the season, while Batchelor was forced to sit out the rest of the series with a shoulder injury.
The Wroclaw rider is determined to put this behind him and get over the 2010 heartbreak, which saw him win the opening two rounds in Gillman and Mildura, before missing out on the A final in Newcastle and being pipped to the title by meeting winner Holder, who was second in the opening two events.
Despite being one of the big favourites, Batchelor knows he will have a tough task on his hands to succeed the injured Holder as champion.
He said: “There are many guys who don’t perform so well in Britain, but perform a lot better in their home country. It’s the same with the Brits; they’re a lot better in Britain than they are abroad.
“There are a few guys who can really turn it on and I’m sure they can shake it up a bit. There are a few youngsters going quite well and you will see them too.
“I’ve been in it for a few years. The last time I went in it, I did a few laps and crashed. But in 2010, I finished second to Chris by one point and he’s world champ.
“It’s a tough competition, but he’s not there this time and it’s open for anyone. I’ve been there a few times and I know what to do. I’ve been so close before and I’m definitely hungry for a win. I’ll do everything I can to get it.”