King’s Lynn Stars’ Iversen targets a rostrum finish after Speedway Grand Prix win in Denmark
PUBLISHED: 15:55 29 June 2014 | UPDATED: 15:55 29 June 2014
King’s Lynn superstar Niels-Kristian Iversen erased his 2013 horror show in Copenhagen by winning the last-ever Parken Grand Prix.
The Stars’ number one bagged only four points during one of his home GPs in Denmark last year but had out-scored that total after just two rides last night.
And Iversen didn’t stop there as he qualified for his first final of the 2014 series – which he won by finishing ahead of runner-up Troy Batchelor, Greg Hancock and Peter Kildemand.
The Dane’s 16-point haul moved him up to third in the current standings, where he finished last term, and the likeable rider admits he wants to kick-on from the weekend’s triumph to challenge for another podium finish come the end of the term.
Iversen said: “My aim is a medal, but there is still a long way to go. I know I’m in third position at the moment, but we’re still only halfway. A lot of points can slip and a lot of things can happen.
“It’s just about taking one meeting at a time, getting these points and solid performances. Then I am sure I will be in contention for something good at the end. Of course my goal is to get on the rostrum again, but there is a long way to go.
“It almost felt unreal, to be honest, to win. It’s the last Grand Prix in the stadium and I managed to nick it.
“I took a little bit of a gamble with my bike in the final to try and make it go faster. I knew I didn’t have the speed to be able to win the race in the semis. It helped a bit. It wasn’t perfect, but I just managed to squeeze into that first corner in the lead.
“It was hard. There were bikes coming together in the first turn and it was a man’s ride on that first lap. I’m just happy I could make it around for all four laps and win in the end.”
It was harsh on Aussie Batchelor who had not been beaten until the main event. His consolation was top-scoring with a huge 20 points on the evening – by far his best score of the 2014 world championship.
American legend Hancock’s third enabled him to move one point ahead of reigning champion Tai Woffinden at the head of the standings. Iversen sits 10 points behind the rider more commonly known as ‘Woffy’.
This year’s leader said: “It’s a long season and what matters most to me is being the champ and being in the lead at the end.
“You can never count your chickens. There is a long way to go still and like I’ve always said, I’m in it for the long run. We’ll see what happens.”
Batchelor blitzed through his heats with a 15-point maximum, before winning his semi-final in style. So he was gutted to miss out on the first SGP seven-ride maximum since Tomasz Gollob racked up 24 points at Vojens in September 2010.
The Queenslander, who is 11th and now only eight points off the top eight (automatic qualification for 2015), was delighted to see everything click into place.
He said: “I think I really needed that result to give me that boost and try and pick myself up and get into that top eight.
“It was one of those days where speedway was easy. I didn’t learn anything – I just went and rode. It’s weird – it felt like it was in slow motion. I knew where people were going to go, I cut back and I passed them.
“I felt like Tai Woffinden. That’s what he had last year and that’s what he had in the last couple of GPs. People get that, they get on a roll and that feeling is great.”
One rider who wasn’t feeling happy after the event was Iversen’s Lynn team-mate – and fellow countryman – Bjerre. The little pocket rocket picked up just three points from his five rides.
Standings after six rounds: 1 Greg Hancock 73 points, 2 Tai Woffinden 72, 3 Niels-Kristian Iversen 62, 4 Nicki Pedersen 60, 5 Matej Zagar 60, 6 Darcy Ward 60, 7 Chris Holder 55, 8 Jaroslaw Hampel 54, 9 Krzysztof Kasprzak 49, 10 Fredrik Lindgren 47, 11 Troy Batchelor 46, 12 Martin Smolinski 45, 13 Andreas Jonsson 41, 14 Kenneth Bjerre 35, 15 Chris Harris 20, 16 Peter Kildemand 15, 17 Michael Jepsen Jensen 8, 18 Peter Ljung 7, 19 Adrian Miedzinski 5, 20 Joonas Kylmakorpi 5, 21 Kauko Nieminen 4, 22 Jason Bunyan 2, 23 Vaclav Milik 2.