TROY Batchelor wasn’t expecting to be offered a Grand Prix return for 2015 but, now he has been given a wildcard, the Swindon Robins captain is targeting a place in the world’s top five.
The Aussie finished ninth in his debut GP season following the final round of the series in Torun on Saturday but, after finishing seven points adrift of the final automatic qualifying place, he was this afternoon offered one of the four BSI wildcards for 2015.
After having less than a month to prepare for his world championship debut at the start of the season, after he took the place of Emil Sayfutdinov, Batchelor took time to acclimatise to his spot at the sport’s top table, but grew into GP life as the season went on.
He made two finals, both in Denmark, with his performance in Copenhagen on June 28 marking his arrival as he dropped just one point on his way to second place at PARKEN, which breathed life into his bid for a top-eight place.
He just missed out but, having been given a reprieve, Batchelor is now looking to push on even further as he looks to take his career to the next level once again.
“Not really, no,” he said when asked by Link Sport if he expected to be offered a wildcard.
“It was something I didn’t want to think about and I certainly didn’t think they would choose the wildcards so soon, but they told me they’d spoken about it over the weekend and called me up to offer me a wildcard.
“They thought I did pretty well and that I deserved a second chance and that’s really great for me.
“At the start of the year the goal was the top eight but, looking back at it all, ninth was pretty good and there were some very special moments for me. Some of them I will never forget but then there were also some things which were pretty poor.
“We have to fix those things for next year and hopefully be up there a lot more. It was a learning curve from start to finish and I’ve enjoyed all of it, from New Zealand to Torun.
“I learnt so much, it was a different level. The second half of the year was better than the first and I tried to learn from my mistakes and get better. I’m more consistent now and I need to keep it going.
“The organisers obviously think I’ve got more to give, which I do too, so next year I’m not going to be aiming for the top eight it’s going to be looking even higher.
“A top five would be the goal, there’s another step or two to go before challenging for number one, but there’s no point just trying to make the top eight and stay there.
“The goal this year was to get on the podium twice and finish top eight. I made one podium, one final and finished ninth so I achieved most of my goals so I need to aim higher.
“I have to aim for the top five next year and also get on the podium a few more times because that’s a great feeling.”
Now he is part of the Grand Prix series for 2015, Batchelor can look forward to an appearance at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium next October, as the World Championship returns to Australia for the first time since 2002.
“That’s another big one for us Aussies,” he said.
“It’s been a long time since the GP’s been to Australia so it will be great to race in front of friends and family and all the Aussie fans.
“I’m sure there will be loads of Aussie fans there and I’m sure it will be one to remember no matter what happens.”
The other wildcards were handed to injured Dane Niels-Kristian Iversen, Michael Jepsen Jensen and Swedish champion Tomas H Jonasson.
There was no place for Batchelor’s Swindon teammate Peter Kildemand, despite the Dane reaching two finals in his only two GP appearances this season.