ROBINS skipper Troy Batchelor reached the first semi-final of his Grand Prix career this evening with an impressive performance in Finland.
The Australian won two of his five qualifying heats to reach the semis in Tampere on nine points, but his good run came to an end as he could only finish third behind Tai Woffinden and Freddie Lindgren in his semi to end the night on 10.
The Robins skipper went from the outside in the opening heat of the night, the first race ever held on the Tampere circuit, and, following a re-run after movement from Chris Harris, Batchelor made a perfect start in yellow to storm to victory in his first outing.
Batchelor had to wait until heat eight for his second outing of the evening and, despite making a decent start from what was proving a difficult gate one, was passed by both Martin Smolinski and Darcy Ward and had to settle for third ahead of Finnish wild card Joonas Kylmakorpi.
The Aussie made a superb start to heat 12 and was well on his way to two more points as the race entered the final lap but, with the chequered flag wrongly produced a lap early, the race was stopped and the Robins man had to do it all again. After a few minutes of confusion the riders re-emerged for the re-staging and made a similarly good start, but after losing the initial battle with Woffinden he was passed by Nicki Pedersen to seemingly drop an extremely frustrating point.
Batchelor was boxed in during the first corner of his fourth outing and couldn’t pass compatriot Chris Holder for third, but enjoyed a huge slice of luck in the final corner as Finn Kauko Nieminen straightened up in the final corner to allow the two Aussies through.
Sitting on six, Batchelor needed a second place to secure his passage through to his first semi-final and made another superb gate to win his second heat of the evening from the outside gate.
Having won both of his heat wearing yellow the Australian looked happy to be able to go from the outside once again in his semi-final, however he was unable to get across Woffinden, Pedersen and Freddie Lindgren at the start and eventually finished his semi in third to sit 13th in the world championship standings.
The meeting was eventually won by Belle Vue number one Matej Zagar who profited as Woffinden hit a rut and went wide while leading the final.