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

Lewis Rose has a chat with (R) skipper Rory Schlein. Picture: Ian Burt Lewis Rose has a chat with (R) skipper Rory Schlein. Picture: Ian Burt

Friday, April 25, 2014
10:47 AM

At first I’d say I didn’t really think the new Fast Track Draft scheme in British speedway was a brilliant idea.

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Stars' racer Lewis Kerr. Picture: Ian BurtStars' racer Lewis Kerr. Picture: Ian Burt

But now we have started the season I’m pretty impressed with how it’s working. It’s a good way to give younger riders a chance in the Elite League and to be able to improve after moving up to that level. A similar system works well in Poland and so far I’d say it’s working well in the UK too.

It’s a good idea that the reserves tend to ride against each other, and not the heat leaders. The last they thing they need is to be coming up against the ones, threes and fives on a regular basis and getting beat.

As a result though it’s definitely getting more tough for us guys (heat leaders) now. If you have a bit of an off-meeting it’s harder to pick up points as you’re always riding against the other best guys. It’s really, really tough, and that’s the downside to the new racing format.

I think the new rules will help British youngsters progress. They needed to do something to help them and get more new riders coming through. This is definitely a good way to do it. But I’m not sure how it’s going to work long-term as there’s no age limit to the Draft riders.

King's Lynn Stars No 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen. Picture: Ian BurtKing's Lynn Stars No 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen. Picture: Ian Burt

I’m not sure how our reserves Lewis Kerr and Lewis Rose will be affected next season. They’re both really good, and really strong compared with other reserves, and they’re getting better and developing each meeting. They can come and get information from myself, Rory (Schlein) and Kenneth (Bjerre) but they need to find their own style – and they’re already starting to do that.

The scheme needs to think about riders like Lewis Kerr, inset, though. Because if he keeps scoring like he is doing he’ll have a pretty high average at the end of the season. But it will be a false average because those scores will have been against reserves and second strings only. If he then gets moved into a heat leader position, he’s going to find it a lot, lot harder. It would undo all his good work and confidence gained from this season. So I’m not sure what’s going to happen there.

All I know, for me, is that riding against better riders every week isn’t a bad thing. But you do have days when you don’t have such a good meeting. And these days when that happens you’re really going to feel it. I felt it last week against Belle Vue. It didn’t really happen for me and it’s probably the first meeting since I’ve ridden for Lynn (fourth season) that I haven’t won a race at home in a match.

Last season I’d have picked something up and when you’re paid-per-point, you want to be getting as many points as you can. Had we been aware of the race format when we were signing contracts, heat leaders would have probably taken that into consideration.

It’s going to be much more difficult to maintain a high average this season but we’ve got a job to do for the team and we’ve just got to get on with it.

‘A ‘short’ trip to Poland is a huge relief’

It’s round two of this year’s Speedway Grand Prix series on Saturday and I’m sure all the riders are glad it’s in Poland.

I’ll fly out and practice at the track (Bydgoszcz) on the same day, which will be Friday. That will make it feel like a normal meeting as there isn’t much time between travelling and racing, unlike the first round. I’m sure everyone was just glad to get New Zealand out of the way early on.

I like GPs in Poland. They’re always pretty big and fast tracks, with plenty of racing lines, and Bydgoszcz has a great history behind it. There’s been GPs there for years. I’m really, really looking forward to it and trying to improve on my New Zealand score (six).

I got a 21-point max riding in the Polish league for Gorzow at Bydgoszcz last season. It’s a track I like. And my aim, as it always is, will be to win the meeting. I know it’s not realistic to win every single time but that’s always my goal going into any event. The main thing is if I keep making good starts and riding well I’ll will hopefully be fighting for one of the final places. That’s always the first step. Once you’re there, then anything can happen.

I’d say it’s very early days to be talking about potential world champions. People that were expected to really get some points in New Zealand, like Jarek Hampel, and Darcy Ward – who got injured – didn’t. I feel it’s early days yet for us all.

There’s so many riders who can do well this year and it’s all about being consistent. So hopefully I can have a better night than I did in Auckland and get some good points on the board.

- 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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