SWINDON Robins skipper Troy Batchelor missed out on a place in the semi-finals of the opening Grand Prix of the season in New Zealand this morning.
The Australian took four points from his five qualifying rides and was in contention in almost all of his heats despite not being able to make the most of some impressive jumps away from the tapes.
The 26-year-old, making his debut as a full-time GP rider, hit the deck in his third ride of the night after hitting a rut on the inside but did not appear to be suffering with any serious injuries.
Batchelor began his full-time SGP career off gate one against Matej Zagar, 2012 champion Chris Holder and three-time winner Nicki Pedersen and, after making a good jump, had to settle for third place as he held off Slovenian Zagar in a heat won by Pedersen.
The Robins skipper was out immediately after the first track grade and, after making a good start, came in second behind electric Pole Krzysztof Kasprzak as he beat wildcard Jason Bunyan and double world champion Greg Hancock.
Batchelor was involved in a bunched first bend which saw Darcy Ward hit the dirt and, with all four riders back for the re-run, the Poole skipper slid off again in turn two under pressure from Freddie Lindgren and was excluded. When the heat was finally run the Swindon rider hit a rut and came off himself while chasing Lindgren and was excluded.
Although the Aussie showed no sign of the knock he suffered in his previous ride when he emerged for heat 15, Batchelor struggled to get across from the outside and, although he cut back well, he couldn’t make an impact as he finished last as his chances of making the semi-finals evaporated.
Batchelor again made a good jump in the final qualifying heat of the night but couldn’t keep it up through the first two corners as he added one more point to his tally.
The surprise winner of the final was German Smolinski, who stormed from last to first to earn victory over Pedersen and Kasprzak.
RESULTS: Martin Smolinski 15 (1st), Nicki Pedersen 19 (2nd), Krzysztof Kasprzak 17 (3rd), Fredrik Lindgren 13 (4th), Kenneth Bjerre 11, Chris Holder 11, Jaroslaw Hampel 8, Andreas Jonsson 7, Tai Woffinden 7, Greg Hancock 6, Matej Zagar 6, Niels K Iversen 6, Darcy Ward 5, Troy Batchelor 4, Jason Bunyan 2, Chris Harris 0, Andrew Aldridge 0.