King’s Lynn Stars rocked as Niels-Kristian Iversen’s season is ended by big Grand Prix crash
- Credit: Archant
King's Lynn Stars' hopes of lifting the Elite League title suffered a monumental blow last night after their number one was ruled out for the rest of the term through injury.
Niels-Kristian Iversen was involved in a horror crash with Greg Hancock during Saturday's Speedway Grand Prix in Gorzow, Poland, which saw him leave the track in an ambulance. And his, and the Stars', worst fears were realised yesterday when he was told he needs surgery to mend the damage sustained to his left knee.
Speaking from Poland, Iversen said: 'Unfortunately the season is over for me. My knee is not great after the crash and I will need to have an operation in order to fix it. I will be back stronger and 100pc ready for the start of next season.'
The Dane and world championship leader Hancock collided during heat 14 as Lynn's top gun picked up too much grip coming out of turn two. The impact between the pair saw Iversen's left knee buckle under him rupturing his ligaments. Sickeningly, American Hancock, aged 44 – and like Iversen seen as one of the nicest guys in the sport – got his hand trapped in the 32-year-old's machinery as the pair tangled.
He suffered one broken finger on his left hand while he dislocated another. Both men withdrew from the event and took no further part in the meeting – which was won by Bartosz Zmarzlik. Iversen, who had scored six points prior to the massive spill, sits sixth in the standings. But with him not riding again this series, he is almost certain to drop out of the top eight. That means he will not automatically qualify for next year's series.
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The current world number three will also not feature for the Stars as they head towards the precious play-offs. From now until the end of the campaign, team boss Rob Lyon will need to rely on guest riders to cover for his top gun due to a rule whereby racers can no longer be signed. The deadline for transfers was on Thursday. Lynn have been long-time leaders but have suffered a blip in form of late and will not be helped by yesterday's devastating news. Iversen joins Lewis Rose on the sidelines, although Rose has been temporarily replaced by Simon Lambert.
Scores of fans took to Twitter to wish their hero a speedy recovery. But they will all be concerned that the man who has won the Danish title three years in a row is going to be almost impossible to replace as the club look to secure their first taste of top-flight glory.
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The rider, more commonly known as PUK, heads the league averages and has top-scored in 15 of his 29 competitive appearances for his English outfit during 2014. He is one of the best riders in the world and had serious ambitions of claiming a second top-three GP finish in a row.
Now, much of the pressure for scoring points at the Norfolk Arena outfit he calls home goes down to fellow heat leader Kenneth Bjerre.
Positively, the Dane has enjoyed something of an upturn in form himself over the past few weeks and enjoyed a decent evening in Poland himself.
Bjerre scored 10 points and reached the semis to take his total to 60. He is now just 10 off an all-important top-eight place.
Hancock, who picked up nine pre-injury, leads the way with 112. He's 14 clear of reigning champion Tai Woffinden who missed round nine through injury.