Aussie star Darcy Ward backed Chris Holder to regain top form in 2018 as he fights for FIM Speedway Grand Prix survival in Melbourne on Saturday.
Holder goes into the QBE Insurance Australian SGP placed 10th in the World Championship on 82 points – 15 short of Matej Zagar, who occupies the eighth and final automatic qualifying place for next year on 97.
Barring a monumental performance in Melbourne from the Sydneysider and a disastrous night for Zagar, Holder must rely on a wild card from the SGP Commission to save his SGP status.
HE WAS NEARLY ON THE PODIUM LAST YEAR – THAT’S A GOOD EFFORT. I FEEL LIKE PEOPLE ARE FORGETTING THAT, AND HE HAS GOT BETTER IN THE LAST FEW GPS.
Ward believes some off-track issues for Holder have taken their toll this year. But based on past performance, he’s certain the 30-year-old will bounce back in style next term.
He said: “It has been a tough season for Chris – he knows that and everybody knows that. But it’s only one tough year.
“He was No.4 in the world last year and 2012 world champion. He was nearly on the podium last year – that’s a good effort. I feel like people are forgetting that, and he has got better in the last few GPs.
“Off-track, he has had a couple of things that have not swung his way. They have been hard to deal with, including me having an injury.
“We travelled the world together – we travelled everywhere together. We raced in all three teams in Poland, Sweden and Britain together, so for me to get injured and not be a part of that anymore is probably a big change. It’s not easy.
“Chris has a lot to learn from this year. I thought it would be make-or-break, but I know he was definitely sidetracked with a couple of things. Things didn’t go his way with equipment and stuff off-track, so I think he can be better and will be better next year.”