Thursday 7th June 2012, 12:07
Triple world champion Nicki Pedersen says he enjoys the pressure of being Denmark’s No.1, despite fans and media being “hungry to have someone else step up instead of me” over the past few years.
After dominating the World Championship in 2007 and 2008, Pedersen went through a few barren seasons by his high standards. He was sixth in 2009 and has been 10th two years running, which meant he needed wild cards to maintain his presence on the sport’s biggest stage.
But the Odense-born man goes into the FIM Dansk Metal Danish SGP in Copenhagen on Saturday just two points off top spot in the standings and firmly in the hunt for his fourth world title.
There was talk Pedersen was getting disillusioned with life in the Grand Prix series as he struggled for form over the last few years.
But the seven-time Danish champion’s hunger is back again and fans and media in his homeland cannot get enough of him.
Pedersen believes there was a desire for another Danish rider to brush him aside and take over his place as the country’s greatest World Championship hopeful. So he is pleased to have cemented his spot as the nation’s leading light.
"Iâ€™ve always said that Iâ€™d rather be world champion than winning one meeting in PARKEN. Obviously it would be a bonus if I did win."
- Nicki Pedersen
He said: “They’ve been hungry to have someone else step up instead of me, but they’ve probably realised it’s still me fighting for Denmark. That’s good for me, but who’s going to be the next one? We are still searching for the next top Danish rider.
“The interest is definitely there again and given that I’m second at the moment, it’s getting bigger. I like having the pressure and it’s absolutely not a problem for me.”
Pedersen already has one SGP victory under his belt this term, having triumphed at the Czech round in Prague on May 12.
Despite having 12 Grand Prix wins to his name since he joined the series full-time in 2001, not one of them has come on Danish shale.
But the 35-year-old refuses to put too much pressure on his shoulders to break that duck and admits claiming title No.4 is a far greater priority than winning one round.
He said: “I’ve always said that I’d rather be world champion than winning one meeting in PARKEN. Obviously it would be a bonus if I did win. It’s a great atmosphere there, but if I make that meeting too special, I’m 99 percent sure it’s never going to happen.
“I’m just trying to take it in a professional way and stay focused. Then I’ll see if I can make the good gates I have done at the last couple of Grand Prix rounds.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself – I just need to go out and do my normal work. Lately, my normal work has been more than good enough.”
Under the current SGP format, the highest point-scorer is not always guaranteed to win a Grand Prix. But Pedersen knows points make prizes at the end of the season.
“That’s the way I look at it compared to a lot of other guys,” he said. “They just think ‘I want to win, I want to win, I want to win.’ I try to look at being consistent all the time and, if you are, you will pop out here and there and win something. That’s what we’re working on.
“I’m doing the Grand Prix this year to be consistent. It doesn’t help if you just win a few, but you’re up and down all the time. I’m trying to be as stable as possible and I haven’t been far off.
“There have been a couple of rounds where I’ve been a couple of points down, but other people have been 10 points down on what they should have been doing.
“I’m quite happy with the way things are working at the moment, and also my gating. It has been extremely good in the last couple of rounds and that’s what I’m working on. That’s the difference and the good, old Nicki Pedersen is back again.
“We all get the same sort of engine speed. But gating-wise, if you’re better than the others, then you generally score more points.”
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