SWINDON skipper Troy Batchelor made his long-awaited GP debut in a dramatic New Zealand Grand Prix in Auckland on Saturday.
Having been handed a late call-up to the series as a replacement for Russian racer Emil Sayfutdinov, Batchelor kicked off his World Championship campaign with a creditable performance at Western Springs.
The Aussie ace got his night off to a solid start with three points from his opening two rides – but he was thrown from his motorcycle after hitting a rut in his third ride and duly excluded.
After dusting himself down, Batchelor notched one more point in his final outing to end with a solid, albeit unspectacular, four points haul to begin his career at the top level of the sport.
Meanwhile, it was German Martin Smolinski who stunned the rest of the field to snatch victory from Nicki Pedersen and Krzysztof Kasprzak in thrilling fashion following a tense Grand Final.
FIM New Zealand Grand Prix ( Auckland): 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.