Door is left open for departing number one Niels-Kristian Iversen to make a King’s Lynn Stars return
PUBLISHED: 16:39 20 November 2015 | UPDATED: 16:39 20 November 2015
King’s Lynn icon Niels-Kristian Iversen was desperate to avoid driving another dagger into the heart of British speedway.
Birthplace: Esbjerg, Denmark
British clubs ridden for: (2003) Newport; (2003-05) Oxford; (2006-07, 09-10) Peterborough; (2008) Wolverhampton; (Three meetings in 2001, 2011-15) King’s Lynn
Major honours: Danish Under-21 champion (2002); World Cup winner (2006, 08, 12, 14); Elite League winner (2006); Danish champion (2012-15); Won 4 Grand Prix (2 in 2013, 1 in 2014, 1 in 2015)
During the sold-out ‘night with Niels and friends’ – in association with the EDP – a fortnight ago the Danish superstar spoke warmly about a permanent 13-year spell on these shores which started in Newport and ends, for now, at Lynn. Yet you could sense while the world number four addressed the audience that something needed to give as he discussed last season’s 98-meeting programme that drove him to the brink of exhaustion.
Unfortunately for the 33-year-old, and his legion of fans, the rigours of riding in the 28-match Elite League for the Stars had become too much to handle forcing him to walk away from the Adrian Flux Arena.
Iversen, who this morning announced he will not ride in the UK in 2016, said: “I had a hard time coping with the tight schedule at times and was not prepared the way I wanted to be for all the meetings.
“I still see King’s Lynn as my club (in England) and I love to race there. That’s why this was such a hard call to make. I just need a temporary time out from the Elite League and I am sure I’ll come back again in the future. I’ve also told Buster (Chapman, Lynn owner) and Rob (Lyon, Stars team boss) that if they are struggling with injuries or whatever next year I am happy to help out if I can.”
The Grand Prix rider joins a long list of the sport’s finest operators in turning their back on the UK in the hope of increasing their chances of winning the world championship. Current title-holder, Brit Tai Woffinden, dropped the Elite League this year and clinched the crown for a second time. The other men to finish above Iversen, Greg Hancock and Nicki Pedersen, also compete in leagues across Europe, but not in the English top-flight.
Iversen bucked the trend, until now, leaving Stars boss Rob Lyon with an impossible hole to fill next term.
“The easy answer to whether I can replace him is no,” said the Lynn chief, who now has an extra 8.98 points available to use in a seven-man team building total of 40.5, including reserves.
“There’s nobody out there who wants to ride in the UK and is available who can replace Niels for his points-scoring ability. Having said that, we will just have to build the team a little bit differently to the way we would have. We have to move on, we can’t dwell on it. It’s a big blow to the club and the fans, we can’t deny that. Niels has been very loyal to Lynn. He’s been absolutely fantastic for us but next season he can’t fit in racing in England. We’ve been in close dialogue for a few weeks and it’s a very amicable parting of the ways.
“It’s not a guarantee he’ll be back but the door has been left ajar by both parties. I don’t think this will be the last we see of Niels.”
* Video provided by YouTube channel Speedway zone. Footage shows when Iversen passed Darcy Ward at the death in the final heat of last year’s World Cup to win gold for Denmark.