Inside Track 2014: World number three Niels-Kristian Iversen’s weekly look inside the Norfolk Arena
12:18 08 June 2014
Archant © 2014
I know supporters get frustrated when a rider’s machine packs up – but I promise you it’s not half as bad as it feels for the person who is on the track.
When you’re on a bike and it gives up on you so you can’t complete the race it’s so annoying, and expensive. Not only do you not get any points – which you are paid for remember – you know there’s going to be bills to pay to get the equipment repaired.
When I get out onto the track I’m normally really confident that my mechanics have got my gear in order. If you have a bad spell you do sometimes have doubts but I am usually happy that things are going to be as they should be. I leave that side of things to my mechanics though.
When I first started out I used to have to spend a lot of time working on preparation. But as things have become bigger, and I’ve got busier and done more meetings in different leagues, it’s just physically impossible to do too much. I have to spend most of my time travelling.
When you’ve had the same pit crew for a long time, like I have, they sort of know what is required and you all know how each other works. After the race though the information about doing work and making changes must come from the rider. I know what the bike is doing out there and I pass that information on.
I’ll let them know what needs sorting, and sometimes I’m not always correct. But we work really well as we’ve done for a number of years (Niels has three mechanics, one in the UK and two in Europe). I’ve been with Robbie Kessler for four years and my guys Kaiil and Arek in Europe for eight.
You need to trust your pit guys as they have got some pressure on their shoulders. They have to make sure stuff is ready. We’re as much of a team as a football team is. We need each other. But I’m definitely the chief. What happens in a race is my responsibility.
That’s why it’s a major frustration when you have to retire from a heat. I’ve had four engines blow this season, whereas in the last four or five years I’d hardly had anything go wrong. It’s really frustrating as you lose points and money. And when engines go you know it’s going to be a big bill, especially when sometimes it blows up completely and you need to buy a new one.
I don’t get too mad though because sometimes things happen that just happen. There’s nothing you can do about it. You can be on the gas and flying, like I was in heat one for King’s Lynn against Coventry last week, and then your bike just dies on you. We were on a 5-1 so I wasn’t the only one who was annoyed. But you just have to get back to the pits, sort it out, and get on with things.
Every now and then you get a nightmare. And that’s exactly what I had in Poland riding for Gorzow on Sunday. Everything that went wrong in one meeting did.
I’d blown up all my bikes in the first two races. I’ve never had that happen before in all my years of being involved in speedway. It’s frustrating and I know everyone felt the same. My job is to go out and get points for the team and I just wasn’t able to do it.
I got the blame for it and ultimately it does come down to me. I’m required to score, they’re my bikes, they’re my mechanics, and I’m the rider. So if anything the pressure is on me to get it right.
I have to make sure that everything in my career – including my equipment – is working and going as it should be. You can point the finger at people in the pits but it’s down to me to get the right people around me. I will sometimes make mistakes, and so will they, but that doesn’t happen very often. For me, I feel as a team we get it right more often than not.
‘Consistency is key to my GP challenge’
The world championship series is still very open after four rounds.
I’m 10th in the standings and while that doesn’t seem like anything special, I’m not a lot of points (11) away from the top. It’s really, really open.
My performance in Prague was more of what I was looking for. I had pretty good speed and I gated well until the semi-final. I will be looking for something similar in the future during the heats (Niels scored 12 from his five rides).
If I can get some decent scores in the next few rounds I’ll be right in the running. So it’s all about consistency.
It’s as competitive as I remember it. A couple of boys, like Tai Woffinden and Matej Zagar, didn’t have a great couple of meetings and have been flying the last two. Tai is now joint top. It just shows how quick things can change.
Reaching the final, or winning the GP, is always my aim going into a meeting. But that’s not always possible.
So if I can just start getting to finals, which I haven’t done this year, I’d be happier. You need to get the extra points if you want to be up there. Which, if I ride like I know I can, I can certainly do.
Niels-Kristian Iversen was talking to Gavin Caney.
* To read Niels’ exclusive weekly column first, and in print – plus an update on Rory Schlein’s ‘Shave the Roo’ charity challenge, buy Wednesday’s paper. Visit www.edp24.co.uk/sport/kings-lynn-stars for an archive of Iversen’s articles.