IVERSEN LIFTED BY FAST FINISH
Danish champion Niels-Kristian Iversen says his fast finish to 2016 “gives me a lot of confidence” in his quest for FIM Speedway Grand Prix glory in 2017.
The Esbjerg-born racer was tipped as a medal candidate ahead of this year, but ended up in a battle for SGP survival after finding himself 14th in the standings after round five in Cardiff.
Victory at the penultimate round in Torun put his qualification hopes back on track, before he sneaked a spot in the top eight by a point at the decider in Melbourne to guarantee his SGP status for another season.
"I’m happy with how things went towards the end. I was back to my old self and I was very much in contention for winning races, winning the meetings and going for the finals."
- Niels-Kristian Iversen
Iversen was delighted to end a tough 2016 season on a high. He said: “It looked really difficult at some points, but I just kept going and that was all I could do. It was a really good feeling to know I achieved it in the end.
“Before the season, my goal was reaching the top three. But as it went on, I could see the top three was impossible. You set yourself a new target, which was the top eight. To reach that was a bonus. Even if it was only by one point, I still made it and that’s important to me.
“I’m happy with how things went towards the end. I was back to my old self and I was very much in contention for winning races, winning the meetings and going for the finals.
“We had a lot of headaches during the season. I didn’t feel like I had enough speed and I wasn’t really on the pace. I tried different engines and setups. It was a whole year where we kept pushing to become better and faster. I felt we got there towards the end.
“If I can start next year the way the season finished over the last two months, then I know I’ll be up there, and that gives me a lot of confidence.”
Had he fallen short of the top eight, Iversen admits he was hopeful he’d have been a strong wild-card candidate. But the former world No.3 was determined to make it into SGP 2017 on his own merit.
He said: “Looking at the wild cards, I think I’d have been in contention, even if I had been in Matej (Zagar) or (Maciej) Janowski’s situation, losing out by one point.
“If you do that, you’re still in a good position for a wild card. But it was nice to do it myself. I didn’t have to rely on anyone to give me an extra shot. I managed to scrap my way through.”
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