SWINDON captain Troy Batchelor’s ‘world has been turned upside-down’ after his call-up to the Grand Prix series took his career to the next level yesterday.
The 26-year-old first reserve replaces Emil Sayfutdinov at the top table of speedway after series organisers BSI yesterday declared the Russian was unable to compete at sport’s highest echelon due to the leg injuries which so cruelly ended his 2014 campaign.
Ambitious Batchelor took a break from making travel plans for the 12-round series to speak to the Advertiser yesterday, admitting his call-up had left him in state of shock despite being rumoured for a number of weeks due to the uncertainty surrounding Sayfutdinov.
“It’s a bit of a relief but then it’s also a lot of work for me too and I was pretty much in front of my computer all afternoon after I found out, sorting out my schedule,” he said.
“It’s going to be a big year now and my life has been pretty much turned upside-down after I got the phone call saying I was in. I need to get organised but I was first reserve anyway so I always had things going in the background.
“Nobody expected this to happen, neither did I, but even though it’s unfortunate for Emil I have an amazing opportunity which I have to take and use the best I can.
“I’m so pumped about all this and it’s the sort of thing which makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.”
Aside from adjusting his mentality going into his first season of top level racing, Batchelor has also made a sizeable financial commitment to ensure his elevation is a successful one.
“My bikes are always prepared just as good, if not better, than anyone else's and that’s the best we can do,” he said.
“I heard last week that this might be happening and I’ve sorted a new engine and a new van which is going to be kitted out as a motorhome, and all that is going to cost up to £70,000.
“I need to run another bike in Europe now too so there’s a lot more investment and time taken. I’m more than happy to do that because this means everything to me.”
While Batchelor wasn’t keen to set targets having only found out about his call-up a few hours earlier, the Swindon captain does have a tentative eye on a top eight place which would be enough for him to secure a return to the series for a second season.
“Now I’m in the championship it feels crazy because it’s a whole new level of competition and I don’t just want to go there to make up the numbers,” he said. “The level of training I put in is going to be upped as well and it feels like the hard work has paid off for me.
“I feel like I’m going somewhere now and it has given me some new drive and a new motivation.
“This is all really fresh so it’s hard to set any targets but I would love to be in and around the top eight, although it’s hard to say at the moment “I just have to go in there and do the best I can do for myself. If that’s not good enough then fair enough but I have to be able to say I gave it everything I can.”
Swindon boss Alun Rossiter is pleased to see his captain make the next step in his career and backed the Australian to do well in the series.
“I know how much this means to Troy, and how distraught he was after the GP Challenge at Poole last year when he was caught out by the dreaded gate four in his first ride,” he said.
“After what happened to him in the Australian Championship when he missed out due to injury, this is excellent news for him and also for the club.
“It’s good for us to have our captain representing us in the World Championship, as we had with Hans Andersen a couple of years ago.
“Troy has matured in the last few years and I’m sure he’s ready for this challenge. He’s been doing well in the Swedish and Polish leagues and the prestige of the Grand Prix series is made for him.
“All of us at Swindon, and I’m sure all of our supporters, wish him all the best and we look forward to following his progress.”