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Niels-Kristian Iversen is determined to take his SGP destiny into his own hands as he targets a GP Challenge spot in the Glasgow semi today.

08 / 06 / 2019, 09:59

Danish star Niels-Kristian Iversen is determined to take his FIM Speedway Grand Prix destiny into his own hands as he targets a GP Challenge spot in Glasgow today.

The SGP regular lines up in the qualification semi-final at Ashfield Stadium, taking on the likes of British champion Robert Lambert, 2012 world champion Chris Holder, World Under-21 champion Bartosz Smektala, Glasgow rider Craig Cook and Sweden’s Jacob Thorssell. Former SGP star Hans Andersen is also set to defy a small fracture to his shoulder blade and race.

With just four riders progressing through to the GP Challenge and semis also taking place at Lamothe Landerron in France and Slovak circuit Zarnovica today, as well as at German track Abensberg on Monday, Iversen knows the road to qualification will be a tough one.

It sucks to put your future in the hands of someone else. I am trying to avoid that. I want to set my own destiny and I want to take things into my own hands.

Niels-Kristian Iversen

Just three riders make it through from the GP Challenge at Gorican on August 24. But having missed out on a permanent wild card for the 2018 series, settling for the first reserve berth instead, Iversen admits he wanted the insurance policy of fighting for his World Championship future on two fronts.

He said: “The reason I thought I’d do it this year is because I was out of the series last season and if I finished outside the top eight this time, I don’t really know if they’d be interested in giving me a wild card.

“There are young riders coming through and I’m not really counted as a youngster, if you can say it like that.

“I prefer to do things my own way and not rely on anything else, so that’s what I am doing. It sucks to put your future in the hands of someone else. I am trying to avoid that. I want to set my own destiny and I want to take things into my own hands. I think that’s the best way to do it.

“There’s no guarantee that I will qualify. It is a tough job to do. But if not, at least I had a shot at it, and I can still qualify through the series.”

Iversen still backs himself for a top-eight finish in this year’s SGP series and says taking on the qualifiers isn’t an admission he can’t make the cut.

He said: “You are going against yourself a little bit because you’re making a plan B in case you’re not good enough. But I still believe I will be able to mix it at the top of the series. My ambition is to finish in the top eight and higher obviously.

“The qualifiers give me a couple more meetings hopefully. I’ve decided to do it and I’ll do it 100 percent. Hopefully I can go all the way through to the Challenge and qualify through both the GP and qualifiers.

“I’ve qualified a few times. I’ve qualified via both routes before on more than one occasion. But it’s a tough one. The qualifiers are hard work – they are really, really tight with only a few spots. You need to be sharp and bring your best game to be able to qualify – even from Glasgow.”

The likes of Lambert, Cook and Holder have relatively recent experience around the Glasgow track. The Brits have raced there in the SGB Championship and Holder scored 11 paid 13 points for Australia in a test match at Ashfield last August.

In contrast, Iversen hasn’t competed there since his formative years in British speedway. “I haven’t ridden the track since 2003,” he said. “That’s a long time ago. It will be a new experience, but I’ll go there and do my best.

“There is some good competition and I think it’s only four places we are riding for. It is a tough one and there are no guarantees people will go through. You have to really be sharp to be able to qualify and you need a bit of luck on the day as well. But I’m aiming to do the job and qualify.”

Slovak star Martin Vaculik and Slovenian champion Matej Zagar feature in a star-studded Zarnovica round, along with the likes of former world No.2s Jaroslaw Hampel and Andreas Jonsson, Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations winner Gleb Chugunov, Swedish star Peter Ljung, British star Dan Bewley, Poland’s Krzysztof Buczkowski and Latvian ace Andzejs Lebedevs.

The French round at Lamothe Landerron hosts former SGP star Chris Harris, as well as 2016 World Under-21 champion Max Fricke, in-form Danish racer Mikkel Michelsen, German racer Kai Huckenbeck, Poland’s Szymon Wozniak, USA hopeful Luke Becker and home hero David Bellego.

German ace Martin Smolinski is among the contenders at Abensberg on Monday, along with Czech charger Vaclav Milik, new Danish champion Kenneth Bjerre and compatriot Mikkel Bech Jensen, Sweden’s Linus Sundstrom, Finland’s Timo Lahti, Ukrainian racer Aleksandr Loktaev and Croatia’s Jurica Pavlic, who is seeking a Challenge spot on the Gorican track built and run by his family.

Four riders make it through each of the semis apart from Abensberg where three qualifiers are guaranteed, with a spot in the Challenge said to be reserved for a Croatian wild card if Pavlic doesn’t finish in the top four there.

GLASGOW LINE-UP: 1. Dimitri Berge (France), 2. Rohan Tungate (Australia), 3. Hans Andersen (Denmark), 4. Craig Cook (Great Britain), 5. Bartosz Smektala (Poland), 6. Pontus Aspgren (Sweden), 7. Tero Aarnio (Finland), 8. Niels-Kristian Iversen (Denmark), 9. Austin Novratil (USA), 10. Glenn Moi (Norway), 11. Robert Lambert (Great Britain), 12. Sebastian Niedzwiedz (Poland), 13. Nicolas Covatti (Italy), 14. Chris Holder (Australia), 15. Erik Riss (Germany), 16. Jacob Thorssell (Sweden).

ZARNOVICA LINE-UP: 1. Anders Thomsen (Denmark), 2. Josef Franc (Czech Republic), 3. Andreas Jonsson (Sweden), 4. Andrzej Lebedevs (Latvia), 5. Andrey Kudriashov (Russia), 6. Eduard Krcmar (Czech Republic), 7. Andriy Karpov (Ukraine), 8. Peter Ljung (Sweden), 9. Krzysztof Buczkowski (Poland), 10. Olegs Mihailovs (Latvia), 11. Gleb Chugunov (Russia), 12. Matej Zagar (Slovenia), 13. Martin Vaculik (Slovakia), 14. Jaroslaw Hampel (Poland), 15.Norbert Magosi (Hungary), 16. Daniel Bewley (Great Britain), RESERVES:  17. Jakub Valkovic (Slovakia), 18. Jan Mihalik (Slovakia).

LAMOTHE LANDERRON LINE-UP: 1. Luke Becker (USA), 2. Max Fricke (Australia), 3. Kai Huckenbeck (Germany), 4. Oliver Berntzon (Sweden), 5. Nicolas Vicentin (Italy), 6. Szymon Wozniak (Poland), 7. Chris Harris (Great Britain), 8. David Bellego (France), 9. Bradley Wilson-Dean (New Zealand), 10. Max Dilger (Germany), 11. Viktor Kulakov (Russia), 12 . Zdenek Holub (Czech Republic), 13. Mathieu Tresarrieu (France), 14 Mikkel Michelsen (Denmark), 15. Jesse Mustonen (Finland), 16. Nick Skorja (Slovenia). RESERVES: 17. Stephane Tresarrieu (France), 18. Gaetan Stella (France).

ABENSBERG LINE-UP: 1. Vaclav Milik (Czech Republic), 2. Matic Ivacic (Slovenia), 3. Roland Kovacs (Hungary), 4. Martin Smolinski (Germany), 5. Jurica Pavlic (Croatia), 6. Linus Sundstrom (Sweden), 7. Kenneth Bjerre (Denmark), 8. Ricards Ansviesulis (Latvia), 9. Charles Wright (Great Britain), 10. Tobias Busch (Germany), 11. Lasse Frederiksen (Norway), 12. Aleksandr Loktaev (Ukraine), 13. Timo Lahti (Finland), 14. Pawel Przedpelski (Poland), 15. Mikkel Bech (Denmark), 16. Paco Castagna (Italy). RESERVES: 17. Valentin Grobauer (Germany), 18. Danny Maassen (Germany)


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