Monday, March 25


Polish international Jaroslaw Hampel was delighted to defy his doubts and put an injury-ravaged 2012 behind him after storming to victory in the Buckley Systems New Zealand FIM Speedway Grand Prix.

The Zielona Gora and Vetlanda man topped the rostrum at Auckland’s Western Springs stadium, heading a Polish one-two with Tomasz Gollob. Nicki Pedersen finished third and Greg Hancock was fourth.

Hampel spent much of last year on the sidelines after breaking his ankle in the Danish SGP at Copenhagen’s PARKEN stadium in June. He missed four Grand Prix rounds, and unsurprisingly didn’t return to the track in the best of form.

The Leszno-born racer was worried he may need some time to rediscover the scoring power which took him to second in the world in 2010 and third in 2011. So he was delighted to start 2013 with a bang in the land of the long white cloud.

Hampel, who is tied on 15 points with Tomasz Gollob at the World Championship summit, said: “I had a lot of worries in my head because you never know how it’s going to be after a bad season. But I tried to think positively.

“I worked really well with my mental trainer and when I started today, my mind was very clear. I knew everyone started from zero and it was a different story this year.

“I had a good few races – not from the beginning, but later on. I found a good line and started again pretty well. I jumped well in the final and when I won, I was really happy because I hadn’t got such a good result for such a long time.”

Hampel has made no secret of how hard he worked over the winter to get back into peak physical condition and he was delighted to see his efforts bear fruit.

He said: “I worked really, really hard. A long time ago, I started to prepare everything after my bad season last year and my injuries. When I got back last year, I didn’t feel good again. But that was at the end of the season. So I worked hard in the winter time on my body condition.

“I tried to prepare everything very well and I spent a lot of hours preparing everything how I expect. Now I feel fit again.”

Hampel refuses to get carried away as he looks ahead to the next round on Polish shale in Bydgoszcz – the European SGP on April 20.

He said: “I’m still keeping my feet on the ground. It’s the beginning of the season. There are a lot of strong guys in the Grand Prix and everyone will try to improve in the future. It’s a good challenge and it’s going to be very interesting this year.”

Hampel and Gollob’s podium-topping heroics sent the large section of Polish fans at Western Springs wild, with some even shedding tears of joy after seeing their favourites triumph.

Runner-up Gollob was delighted with a silver medal, but hopes to go one better in his hometown Bydgoszcz next month.

He said: “I’m very happy with getting second position to Jarek and congratulations to all the guys on the first meeting. I had done a lot of testing with my bikes and it worked. Bydgoszcz is the next round and it’s a very good track for me."

Pedersen started his night with two last spots, but bounced back with three heat wins and a second place in semi-final one, before clinching the bronze medal in the final.

The meeting threatened to descend into a disastrous trip for the Danish international, so he was delighted to bag third place in Auckland for the second season in succession.

He said: “In the beginning, I didn’t have any speed at all. We had to do some drastic things and sort it out. I went out and won the next three races.

“It’s quite a trip to come back from two zeros, but I didn’t want to end up last and knew I had to pull something out. I’m happy. I was third here last year as well and last season ended up quite well.”


AUCKLAND SCORES: 1 Jaroslaw Hampel 15, 2 Tomasz Gollob 15, 3 Nicki Pedersen 12, 4 Greg Hancock 11, 5 Darcy Ward 12, 6 Andreas Jonsson 11, 7 Tai Woffinden 9, 8 Chris Holder 9, 9 Fredrik Lindgren 8, 10 Niels-Kristian Iversen 7, 11 Emil Sayfutdinov 6, 12 Antonio Lindback 6, 13 Krzysztof Kasprzak 6, 14 Matej Zagar 5, 15 Martin Vaculik 5, 16 Jason Bunyan 1, 17 Sean Mason DNR, 18 Dale Finch DNR.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tomasz Gollob 15, 2 Jaroslaw Hampel 15, 3 Nicki Pedersen 12, 4 Darcy Ward 12, 5 Greg Hancock 11, 6 Andreas Jonsson 11, 7 Chris Holder 9, 8 Tai Woffinden 9, 9 Fredrik Lindgren 8, 10 Niels-Kristian Iversen 7, 11 Emil Sayfutdinov 6, 12 Antonio Lindback 6, 13 Krzysztof Kasprzak 6, 14 Martin Vaculik 5, 15 Matej Zagar 5, 16 Jason Bunyan 1.