World Under-21 champion Darcy Ward admits he may be forced to choose between a place in the FIM Grand Prix series and the Polish Ekstraliga if he is offered a permanent wild card for 2012.
The 19-year-old has been widely tipped for a berth in next year’s FIM World Championship and makes his second wild card appearance of the season in the FIM Enea Gorzow SGP of Poland on Saturday.
He exploded on to the Grand Prix stage with an incredible third place on his series debut in Torun on August 27 and has topped the averages in the British Elite League with Poole.
Ward has also shone for Gdansk in the Polish First Division this year and has played a huge role in them sealing a return to the Ekstraliga.
But reports in Poland suggest clubs in the 2012 top flight will only be able to sign one SGP rider each. If this rule is confirmed, at least five Grand Prix regulars will be left without Ekstraliga places.
Ward feels riding in the world’s strongest domestic league is an important step in his development and admits his inexperience may make him too big a gamble for a club only able to sign one SGP star.
He said: “I can’t see a team in the Ekstraliga picking me as a Grand Prix rider because it’s a big risk.
“For me, I think I need to wait another year for the Grand Prix and start to get a bit better. But I haven’t been asked if I want a wild card, so I can’t judge it.
“I feel I need to step up in Poland. I’ve had a good year in the lower league. Everything has been going well and I’ve been winning a lot of races.
“I want to step up, bring that into the Ekstraliga and earn more money. But it’s not about money. I want to be a better rider and you have to race the big boys. I just want to be in the Ekstraliga because I feel that’s where I belong.”
Ward would also have to ensure he has the financial clout and back-up team around him to compete on the sport’s biggest stage. But he is relishing the chance to have another crack at the SGP heavyweights in the Edward Jancarz Stadium.
Having claimed the bronze medal at Torun’s Marian Rose Motoarena, the Queenslander knows there is a greater weight of expectation on his shoulders this time around.
He said: “I think it will be harder than the first one. I just went in there at Torun and thought ‘whatever’. Then I got a third and now people will be expecting me to go pretty well. It’s not like I can’t win it. It’s just not as easy as it sounds.”