NICKI: BACK UP TO SPEED
Danish racer Nicki Pedersen was delighted to succeed in his search for speed before his 2016 FIM Speedway Grand Prix season was ended by injury.
The Odense-born ace was sidelined after sustaining neck and arm injuries in the Golden Helmet meeting at Pardubice on September 18, forcing him out of the final SGP rounds in Stockholm, Torun and Melbourne.
It was the culmination of a frustrating year for the triple world champion, but there were signs of real encouragement when he won the Speedway European Championship crown the night before his Czech tumble.
"It was a horrible crash, but it would have been a lot, lot worse if I had gone into an injury, not knowing what to do with my engines."
- Nicki Pedersen
Pedersen reached just one final in eight rounds last year, but having got back on the pace towards the end of the season, he’s confident he can be back in the World Championship medal race, if he has the right machinery beneath him.
He said: “It’s simple to say I hadn’t had the equipment I needed to compete in the World Championship or the leagues. It wasn’t as it used to be. All season I was struggling with finding the setup and the speed was dropping.
“Finally, we got the tuners to listen and figured out what the problem was. Then I threw in that engine for the SEC in Rybnik, I was in heat three and I could feel straight away it was extremely different to what I’d had all season. That was working well for me.
“The next day when I crashed in Pardubice, I was last from the gates in the final. Gate position five was the worst, but I passed everyone except Emil (Sayfutdinov). Then I had the crash.
“It was a horrible crash, but it would have been a lot, lot worse if I had gone into an injury, not knowing what to do with my engines.”
Pedersen usually targets a top-three spot in the World Championship, but he sees keeping his machinery at top speed as an even more important goal for this year.
“As I’ve always said, the top three is nice,” he said. “But the more important thing is to get the right equipment at the right time and make sure I always have the right stuff.
"I can only do my part. If things aren’t working, then there is nothing you do. So we want to be more focused on that.
“I know I am still hungry and I know I can ride a speedway bike. There is no doubt about that and it isn’t me who has to do something different like I did 10 years ago. I need to get back to basics, back to my form and I am extremely hungry. I just want to enjoy my racing.”
Pedersen turns 40 in April and is one of the SGP series’ most experienced performers. He hopes this will give him the edge over his younger rivals when it comes to being consistent.
He said: “The way I look at it, it’s a really great field with lots of good riders. But consistency is the key, as we all know.
“Every guy can do it on the day, but you have to do it all season and not get injured and stuff like that. It’s a very long season and you have to stay stable and consistent.
“But I’m not thinking about being an experienced rider; I’m just looking towards myself. I know if I have things in the right place and things are working, then I know how to do it.
“It doesn’t matter who the rider is. If I don’t have things working, anyone can beat me. But if I have the right things, I know I can beat anybody. It’s that simple. I need to look towards myself and not towards anybody else.”
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