SLOVENIA'S FLAG CARRIER
Sunday 30th September 2012, 12:20
Slovenian star Matej Zagar pledged to “make my country proud” when he returns to the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series in 2013.
The 29-year-old came through a gruelling five-man, four-heat run-off to snatch second place in the GP Challenge at Gorican on Saturday and join winner Krzysztof Kasprzak and third-placed Niels-Kristian Iversen in the World Championship.
Zagar finished seventh in the 2006 series to secure automatic qualification for 2007. He collected a silver medal at the Czech SGP in Prague and bronze in the European SGP at Wroclaw along the way.
He was a lowly 14th in the 2007 World Championship and has made just four wild card appearances since then.
But Zagar returns to the competition a far more experienced rider and says being an SGP racer again will give him fresh impetus as he prepares for the 2013 season.
"Iâ€™m a proud Slovenian and I hope many fans are going to support me everywhere."
- Matej Zagar
He said: “It’s a good feeling and it gives me energy during the winter. It’s a kick in the bum. I have to step up again and that’s what I wanted, otherwise I wouldn’t have been doing the qualifiers.”
Asked whether he plans to make any changes to his setup in preparation for his World Championship return, he said: “I don’t want to change anything. I just want to score the most points possible and make my country proud.”
Zagar, who was roared on by a large travelling contingent from Slovenia, has been the leading rider in his country for much of his career. He hopes flying his national flag on the SGP stage again will inspire the country’s other riders to follow in his footsteps.
He said: “I’m very happy to be wearing this flag. I’m a proud Slovenian and I hope many fans are going to support me everywhere.
“It means a lot to me and I do everything I can to make speedway big in Slovenia. I hope this is a step forward for our other guys as well.
“I’ve proved we’re not just an ex-Balkan country that doesn’t know how to ride speedway.”
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