Iversen insists ‘home’ advantage will not count for that much at King’s Lynn Speedway World Cup meet
- Credit: IAN BURT
Dane Niels-Kristian Iversen knows every inch of the Norfolk Arena track – but he insists it will count for nothing at tonight's World Cup meeting.
King's Lynn Stars' number one will be expected to score big at Saddlebow Road, as he always does, when his country look to kick-start their defence of the Ove Fundin Trophy.
However, despite riding on his own shale in Event Two, Iversen expects home advantage to not play a huge part in proceedings come tapes up.
'I know the track quite well and all the surroundings,' said the Danish captain, whose team-mates include ex-Stars Nicki Pedersen and Kenneth Bjerre.
'It's nice to have home advantage but so many riders enjoy it at Lynn that it won't really make that much difference.
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'Of course it's a small advantage but it's not that big. The British lads have ridden on the track plenty of times and it's a number of years since Nicki rode for Lynn.'
Iversen, a three-time World Cup winner, has cemented his place in the sport's elite in the last 18 months and has performed brilliantly on his return to the Grand Prix scene.
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With him in such fine form especially, the Danes are red-hot favourites to win tonight's 'semi-final' and progress straight to the July 20 showcase in Prague.
Their cause has been helped by a string of injuries to Scandinavian neighbours Sweden which has forced their big-hitters Andreas Jonsson, Linus Sundstrom, Tomas H Jonasson, Antonio Lindback, Fredrik Lindgren and Peter Karlsson to miss out.
But the 31-year-old insists the reigning champions will not be taking anything for granted after they caused a shock of their own last year by beating much-fancied Australia to the title.
Lynn's superstar, an asset of fierce rivals Peterborough Panthers, said: 'We should be happy with our lack of injuries. We've kind of had the opposite problem to other teams as we've had too many riders available to make up the team.
'It's been hard competition to make the final four. However, all the other teams are still strong. There are so many good riders and everyone can win races on the day.
'It's the World Cup and last year no-one expected it to go so well for us. We surprised everyone and it's a competition that you can never say never in.'
The under-strength Swedes are likely to be pushing Great Britain for at least second place with USA – led by speedway legend Greg Hancock – almost certain to finish fourth, or third at best.
About 5,000 fans are likely to pack the Norfolk Arena to cheer on the home country. However, Iversen is adamant he and his countrymen are only gunning for direct qualification for Saturday's final.
'It's difficult to say what could happen in the main final, Poland look very strong,' said the Grand Prix ace.
'We'll have to see what happens if and when we get there. But getting to the final is the first step. It's always harder to defend a title because people are going at you more. That's how it is.
'I'm there on Monday to win. I'm sure our other riders are the same. We've had quite a few seconds and thirds in the past but winning is all that counts for me.'
The hosts have been handed a boost with GP hero Tai Woffinden declaring himself fit. He will be joined by popular rider Chris 'Bomber' Harris, Edward Kennett and Craig Cook.
Lynn fans had hoped to see their own Richie Worrall compete but he missed out on a place in the four-man team.
Swedish champion Daniel Nermark, a former Stars' rider, will however offer some added 'home' interest.