IVERSEN EYES ROSTRUM RETURN IN RUSSIA
Danish star Niels-Kristian Iversen says a rostrum return would be a real step forward for his side as they make the trip to Togliatti.
15 / 07 / 2019, 12:57
Danish star Niels-Kristian Iversen says a rostrum return would be a real step forward for his side as they make the trip to Togliatti for the Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations Finals this weekend.
NKI joins forces with World Championship frontrunner Leon Madsen and under-21 star Frederik Jakobsen to take on champions Russia, Sweden, Poland, Germany, Great Britain and Australia this Saturday and Sunday.
We have been so poor for a number of years, so if we can get a medal, that’s the first step. It could be a first, second or third one, but a medal is the aim.
Iversen has four FIM Speedway World Cup medals to his name and is currently seventh in the World Championship, while reigning European champion Madsen is in the form of his life and level on 47 points at the top of the SGP standings with Russia’s Emil Sayfutdinov and Poland’s Patryk Dudek.
It’s five years since Denmark last won a world team title – a barren run by the lofty standards of a country that lifted the SWC trophy four times in nine years between 2006 and 2014.
But with the Danes chasing their first top three finish since they took second spot in the 2015 SWC, Iversen believes getting back on the podium against a tough field would be an achievement for a country on its way back to the top.
He said: “Our aim is the podium. It’s not like it’s a disappointment if we don’t win it like it was in some of the World Cups I have been in. In many of them, it was win or nothing and I was bitterly disappointed with second.
“But it’s a little bit of a different situation we have now. We have been so poor for a number of years, so if we can get a medal, that’s the first step. It could be a first, second or third one, but a medal is the aim.”
Iversen admits team work will be vital as the Danes head for Russian shale seeking to better their third place at Race Off 2 in Manchester, which forced them to battle their way through to final knock-out heats to qualify.
He said: “I have never been to Togliatti or Russia. I don’t really know what to expect there. It’s a different track and a different venue for me. But I am looking forward to it.
“Leon has been brilliant this year. He did well in Manchester as well in the first one. We just have to go there, do our best and try and help each other. Then I’m sure we can be in contention to win it.
“But it’s tough. Russia will be good – they will be strong and especially at home. Most of the teams in the final are good. We have our eyes on the prize and hopefully we can make the most of it.”
Iversen heads to Togliatti on the back of reaching the Norrbil Swedish SGP semi-finals in Hallstavik.
He was visibly irate when he spun off as he chased for a spot in the final. While he was gutted with a costly mistake, he was content to be back on form, registering eight points to forget his three-point haul in Prague three weeks earlier.
NKI added: “I really found some speed in the bike in the semi, which was positive. I was pretty much in that race, but I made my own mistake and it was my own fault. It was disappointing that I screwed things up like that because I felt the final was within reach.
“It’s positive. I am back in the mix and in the game. Prague was really rubbish. It was close in Sweden, though, and there’s something to work on.”