Batchelor makes the semis in Latvia
Updated 4:15pm Sunday 17th August 2014 in By Andy Warren, Deputy sports editor, firstname.lastname@example.org, @AndyWarren_
SWINDON captain Troy Batchelor enjoyed an encouraging afternoon as he made the semi-finals of the Latvian GP.
The Australian may not have secured a heat victory in Daugavpils, after the event was put back a day and moved from Riga due to issues with the track, but he scored in each of his five qualifying rides to make the top eight on eight points.
Batchelor finished last in his semi, before Krzysztof Kasprzak won the meeting, but his eight points move him closer to an overall top eighth place which will earn him a place in 2015 series.
Despite a good afternoon’s racing, the meeting was overshadowed by an incident involving Darcy Ward, which saw the Poole number one barred from taking part after he failed a breath test before the start, with Aussie claiming issues in his personal life were to blame.
Batchelor changed his bike just a matter of seconds before the start of his opening heat and it looked to have worked as he made the first corner first. However, Kenneth Bjerre rounded the Aussie on the back straight before Nicki Pedersen eventually barged his way through, meaning the Swindon skipper claimed just a point from his opener.
The 26-year-old enjoyed a ding-dong battle with Jarek Hampel in his second ride, missing the start initially before passing the experienced Pole coming out of turn two. Batchelor lost third place back to Hampel but again regained it, ensuring his second third place in his opening two rides.
Ride number three produced a superb start for Batchelor as he charged away from gate two, but Greg Hancock found drive coming out of the first corner to storm through into the lead as the Robins man settled for a good second place.
With four points from three rides, Batchelor pulled a hard move to pass Martin Smolinski for second to move on to six with a ride to go, in which he was passed by Andreas Jonsson after making a good start but his second place was enough to take him through.
Batchelor went off the outside gate in the second semi-final but reached the first corner at the back and, although he cut back and briefly held third place, he slipped to the back of the field and couldn’t add to his tally.
Batchelor’s display was enough for him to move four points closer to eighth place, now held by Hampel, with the Swindon skipper six points adrift.