MICHELSEN: TIME TO PREPARE FOR SGP 2022
European champion Mikkel Michelsen admits he’s delighted to have taken his FIM Speedway Grand Prix ambitions into his own hands.
21 / 07 / 2021, 12:41
European champion Mikkel Michelsen admits he’s delighted to have taken his FIM Speedway Grand Prix ambitions into his own hands after becoming the first qualifier for SGP 2022.
Michelsen stormed to Speedway European Championship gold in his adopted hometown Rybnik on July 10 to earn automatic entry into next year’s World Championship series.
The Dane raced in SGP 2020 after being named as second reserve for the competition, before Greg Hancock’s retirement and a season-ending crash for Martin Smolinski handed him his chance to join the line-up full-time.
Becoming European champion was a goal of mine, but the most important thing was getting that GP spot. Winning and becoming European champion in Rybnik, my home city, in front of all my friends and sponsors was unbelievable.
Michelsen only discovered he would be racing last year’s World Championship just over a week before round one, so he’s elated to have sealed a return for next year – and plenty of time to prepare.
He said: “It’s nice to have your future under control and be able to prepare yourself for what’s coming up next year.
“Becoming European champion was a goal of mine, but the most important thing was getting that GP spot. Winning and becoming European champion in Rybnik, my home city, in front of all my friends and sponsors was unbelievable.
“Being a two-time European champion is something special for sure and now I am up there in the statistics with Emil Sayfutdinov, who has also won two, which is pretty cool.”
Michelsen, who also joins Matej Zagar in the realm of double European champions, is no stranger to racing at the highest level. He stars for Lublin in Poland’s PGE Ekstraliga and has played a key role in their charge into the play-off places this season.
This should ensure he’s ready to step up into the SGP elite next year and Michelsen is determined not to make too many changes ahead of his second shot at the World Championship. He said: “In general, it doesn’t feel like there is a lot I need to change. Mentally I am in a good spot. I am probably in the best place I have ever been in my life right now. I have never been stronger mentally and physically, I am in good shape. I enjoy my training just as much as I enjoy racing my motorbike.
“I have a good thing going, so I don’t want to shake things up too much. I have a good routine.
“We need to treat the GPs the same as we treat everything else. If we start to treat them any differently, the outcome is going to be different too.
“Team-wise, I have the right people around me. We have been working hard this year to fine-tune everything a little bit more and be a bit more professional and organised. That part is under control.
“My mechanics Krzysztof Momot and Mateusz Liszka and my manager Marcin Momot are doing such a great job. Flemming Graversen, my tuner, has done an amazing job this year and I can’t thank him enough. Everything is spot on.
“Obviously you can never have too many sponsors, especially with the GP series. It comes at a huge cost and there is a lot of travelling. A few more sponsors wouldn’t hurt. I am grateful for what I have right now, but I also know the budget is going to need to be a bit bigger for next year.”
Michelsen hailed those who helped him on his journey to the sport’s biggest stage. He said: “I need to say a huge thanks to my Dad, Ole. Without his determination and him pushing me hard when I was young, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“Then there’s my uncle, Niels Nielsen, who sadly passed away in 2011. He was like my best friend. He is always with me.
“I also need to thank my team. What you see on the track is one thing, but you don’t see all the work behind the scenes. I also thank my sponsors for making this possible.”
Michelsen was enduring a tough run of form when he got his SGP 2020 opportunity and has made no secret of the fact he nearly turned it down. But now he’s confident this is his time.
He said: “Last year I felt ready, but when I got the chance, I knew we weren’t ready. Equipment-wise, we weren’t ready for that.
“But this is where I want to be. I think now is my time to prove myself with the big boys. I feel ready and prepared for it. Of course there is a long winter coming and I still need to put in the work and organisation to be prepared. But in general, I am ready."