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Inside Track 2014: World number three Niels-Kristian Iversen’s weekly look inside the Norfolk Arena

16:54 17 October 2014

The 2015 FIM Speedway World Champion will be crowned Down Under as Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium hosts the Australian SGP in a five-year deal. Picture: SPEEDWAYGP

The 2015 FIM Speedway World Champion will be crowned Down Under as Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium hosts the Australian SGP in a five-year deal. Picture: SPEEDWAYGP

Archant

The 2014 Speedway Grand Prix series came to a close with Greg Hancock becoming a worthy world champion.

The 2014 Speedway Grand Prix champion, Greg Hancock. Picture: SPEEDWAY GPThe 2014 Speedway Grand Prix champion, Greg Hancock. Picture: SPEEDWAY GP

Greg’s been the best this year, especially when you look at the second half of the season. Since about round six he’s been the most consistent. He hasn’t won that many GPs but he’s scored well regularly and that’s what you need to win the crown.

Greg’s such a well-liked guy who will hope to be challenging again next year – along with the 14 other riders. Nobody joins the GPs to make the numbers up.

I’ll be exactly the same now I’ve been handed a wild card – which of course I’m absolutely delighted about. I finished third in 2013 and this year I was hoping to do better until I got injured. I’m sure Woffy (Tai Woffinden) feels the same now he’s no longer the champ. He’s had injuries, as did Chris Holder (2012 winner), but both started to look good and will be really trying to get on top of the podium in 2015.

Nicki Pedersen beat Tai in a race-off to win bronze and whether you like him or not he’s a top rider – and everybody knows that. He’s a colourful character and I think he’s going to be missed the day when he isn’t here. He’ll always be competitive.

Jarek Hampel took the last top-eight qualification slot and came on strong at the end to save his season. The same goes for Andreas Jonsson (sixth). He was dead and buried until he won in Vojens. It really is amazing what a good few GPs can do for you.

It’s been a funny old year with injuries. As for me, I wasn’t totally satisfied with my campaign before I crashed (round nine). I’d liked to have given a bit more. It wasn’t bad, I was in the hunt for a medal, but I kept getting scores of 10, 11 or 12 and then I’d get knocked out of the semis. That’s what I need to improve on next season.

Missing rounds has sucked. It’s bad enough not doing normal meetings but being sidelined for big events, like play-offs for my clubs and the GPs, is even worse. The GPs are definitely the place to be. The European Championships are like the smaller and nice brother.

There’s quite a step up in class in my opinion between the two. Some of the stadiums we ride at, like Cardiff, Copenhagen and now Melbourne in Australia, are amazing. Twenty-or-so years ago I think riders could have only dreamed of competing in arenas like we are now. Fair play to those than run the GP series. They’re doing a great job.

It’s not a secret that although it helps raise our profile and attract sponsorship, the GPs are not a big money-maker for us guys. The leagues are where we earn our livelihoods. It’s important that people don’t forget that. That’s why I don’t think GPs can even be like Formula 1. We can’t just do GPs. Ten to 12 rounds are enough.

If there were only GPs where would the future riders and fans come from? League racing is important and I love competing wherever it is once the tapes come up. Riding in Britain, Sweden, Denmark and Poland helps keep me sharp for the GPs. So for me, I’d never want it to just be GPs – even if they are the pinnacle of the sport in my opinion at the moment.

- Niels-Kristian Iversen was talking to Gavin Caney.

* To read Niels’ exclusive weekly column first, and in print – buy Wednesday’s paper. Visit www.edp24.co.uk/sport/kings-lynn-stars for an archive of Iversen’s articles.

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