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Speedway: Ward stars in Auckland
7:09am Saturday 23rd March 2013 in Latest Sport
DARCY Ward made a stunning start to life in the world championship at the opening Grand Prix of the season in New Zealand this morning.
The Pirates number one racked up 11 points from qualifying at Western Springs but could only finish third in his semi-final behind Nicki Pedersen and eventual winner Jarek Hampel.
The Queenslander won his opening heat, beating Martin Vaculik, Pedersen and Hampel in the process, before lowering Pirates team-mate and world champion Chris Holder's colours in race seven.
Ward, though, finished third behind Tomasz Gollob and Antonio Lindback in race nine, before another single point in heat 14 was followed by a heat 20 win that sealed his semi-final place.
Holder, meanwhile, endured mixed fortunes in his first GP since winning the world title last October.
The Poole captain finished qualifying on eight points to squeee into the semi-finals, but was unable to pass Greg Hancock and Gollob as he settled for nine points on his competitive comeback from injury.