Pole Jarek Hampel won the opening Speedway GP of the new season
Jarek Hampel showed his World title credentials by claiming the opening Grand Prix of the season in New Zealand.
By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @graemebailey
Last Updated: 23/03/13 4:54pm
Hampel only scraped into the latter stages as he progressed into the semi-finals on nine points, but he sprang into life by winning his semi ahead of Nicki Pedersen.
Fellow countryman Tomasz Gollob looked the man on the pace for most of the night, and he won his semi-final from Greg Hancock as world champion Chris Holder bowed out of the running at this stage with nine points.
In the final and Hampel made no mistake as it was won from the gate, ahead of Gollob, Pedersen and Hancock.
Hampel was delighted with his return to the GP scene after missing most of least season with a broken ankle.
"I had a lot of worries in my head because you never know how it's going to be after a bad season. But I tried to think positively," he told Speedwaygp.com.
"I worked really well with my mental trainer and when I started today, my mind was very clear. I knew everyone started from zero and it was a different story this year.
"I had a good few races - not from the beginning, but later on. I found a good line and started again pretty well. I jumped well in the final and when I won, I was really happy because I hadn't got such a good result for such a long time."
Despite the win, Hampel is only joint early leader in the standings as Gollob also has 15-points with Pedersen some three points back on 12 along with newcomer Darcy Ward - who looked mightily impressive on his debut as a full time GP rider.
Another impressive and heartening display came from the sole Brit on show in the shape of Tai Woffinden - who was on the pace all night and made the semi-finals.
AUCKLAND SCORES: 1 Jaroslaw Hampel 15, 2 Tomasz Gollob 15, 3 Nicki Pedersen 12, 4 Greg Hancock 11, 5 Darcy Ward 12, 6 Andreas Jonsson 11, 7 Tai Woffinden 9, 8 Chris Holder 9, 9 Fredrik Lindgren 8, 10 Niels-Kristian Iversen 7, 11 Emil Sayfutdinov 6, 12 Antonio Lindback 6, 13 Krzysztof Kasprzak 6, 14 Matej Zagar 5, 15 Martin Vaculik 5, 16 Jason Bunyan 1, 17 Sean Mason DNR, 18 Dale Finch DNR.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tomasz Gollob 15, 2 Jaroslaw Hampel 15, 3 Nicki Pedersen 12, 4 Darcy Ward 12, 5 Greg Hancock 11, 6 Andreas Jonsson 11, 7 Chris Holder 9, 8 Tai Woffinden 9, 9 Fredrik Lindgren 8, 10 Niels-Kristian Iversen 7, 11 Emil Sayfutdinov 6, 12 Antonio Lindback 6, 13 Krzysztof Kasprzak 6, 14 Martin Vaculik 5, 15 Matej Zagar 5, 16 Jason Bunyan 1.