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

Niels-Kristian Iversen has to find ways to relax when he's not riding. Picture: Matthew Usher Niels-Kristian Iversen has to find ways to relax when he's not riding. Picture: Matthew Usher

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
3:46 PM

The Grand Prix series kicked off in New Zealand on Saturday and I’ll admit it does take a lot out of you to get there for the event.

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Stars' racer Kenneth Bjerre. Picture: Ian BurtStars' racer Kenneth Bjerre. Picture: Ian Burt

You travel for about two days, it’s a long way, and the time difference (12 hours) is big.

It does affect you a little bit, especially for the first few days. And it’s a big job in terms of planning to do the GP itself too.

I had my bikes shipped out from crates in Holland before I went and then the mechanics, and riders, get out there a couple of weeks later. You have to unpack everything, get it to the stadium, and then do the same all again at the end of the meeting. It’s not an easy task.

Thankfully, you get a couple of days when you arrive to sort yourselves out. On Wednesday there’s press stuff for some of the riders, Thursday is a practice, Friday is the official practice and Saturday is race day.

Martin Smolinski, left.Martin Smolinski, left.

So you’re a bit tied up and there isn’t much time to do other stuff like travel. You do see plenty of the other guys about as the BSI, with the help of a travel company, puts everyone up in the same hotel. It’s organised really well. When I got some spare time I spent it in my room relaxing or with my team.

On the Wednesday I was just walking around in my own little bubble though as I was jet-lagged. I just tried to get used to the time difference and took in the scenery. I didn’t see much of the country but from what I did it looks really nice. It’s really clean with a nice climate.

New Zealand used to have really good riders and they have the GPs out there to try and get more interest back into the sport. Although it’s a long way to go for a meeting, if they can get more people keen on speedway, it’s worth doing.

As for the meeting itself, there was a good crowd, the track was decent and it was big with a nice shape. It was a good racing track. Even though I won my first race of the night, I wasn’t happy. I got off to an OK start by winning but I wasn’t too pleased with how I rode.

I ended up getting just six points so I was a little bit unhappy with my performance.

It was one of those days where I didn’t do what I wanted to do, so I ended up feeling disappointed with how my campaign got underway.

‘Stunning Smolinski deserved his moment of debut success’

The final in New Zealand was a great race and Martin Smolinski did a brilliant job to win it.

I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t expect much from him, and I don’t think anybody did. It was his debut. But he proved people wrong. And he proved that he’s here in the GPs to do some damage. He definitely did that on Saturday so fair play to him. To go from last to first to win it, well what can you say? It was brilliant.

I congratulated him at the end, even though I don’t know him that well. I’ve ridden against him for a long time as he’s a similar age to me and we competed against each other when we were juniors. But I’ve never ridden with him.

I will say he’s very professional with a good set-up. He’s got a lot of backing in Germany and hopefully he can help the sport in that country get big again. It’s always nice for speedway to become more popular.

‘Jet-lag? We’ll have to grin and Bjerre it’

I think Kenneth (Bjerre) did good but it wasn’t unexpected for me – I know what he’s capable of.

He looked on the pace and of course when you get to the semis you want to be in the final but it wasn’t a bad start from him. I think he would have been satisfied with it.

It’s going to be pretty tough for me and him tonight when we ride for King’s Lynn against Lakeside. I think the jet-lag is going to affect us, but hopefully not too much. It’s a bit poorly planned in my opinion. I’ll have only been home for about 24 hours. I remember last year, after the New Zealand GP, we rode like three days after I’d got home against Peterborough on Good Friday. By the night-time meeting I was beside myself with tiredness and it all went bottoms up.

I think we should have been given an extra day to rest. The last thing you want is for your brain to be half asleep and thinking it’s the middle of the night when you’re trying to race. It’s not ideal, but we’ve just got to get on with it. It’s going to be a hard week as I’m at Lynn tonight, Coventry on Friday and Poland on Sunday. So I’m just going to have to make the best of the situation and get as much sleep and rest as possible during the day.

- 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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