SGP 2018 REVIEW | BETARD SCANDINAVIAN SGP
SpeedwayGP.com looks back at this year’s FIM Speedway Grand Prix series. Today, we feature Nicki Pedersen at his best in Malilla.
07 / 12 / 2018, 16:00
SpeedwayGP.com looks back at the best of this year’s FIM Speedway Grand Prix series. Today, we feature Nicki Pedersen at his best in the Betard Scandinavian SGP in Malilla.
It had been nearly three years since the triple world champion had topped the SGP rostrum at Torun 2015.
He may not be an SGP rider in 2019, but Pedersen still found the inspiration to deliver an unforgettable victory in Malilla this summer. And it featured all his trademarks – sensational starts, steel under pressure and a riled rival.
Pedersen did a rock-solid job in the heats, racing to three straight seconds in his first three outings, before booking his semi-final spot with victory in heat 15 under intense pressure from Peter Ljung.
A third in his last heat saw him go through to the last eight with 10 points to his name, setting up a mouth-watering semi-final with Freddie Lindgren, Tai Woffinden and Bartosz Zmarzlik.
In a blow to his title chances, the Pole was excluded after locking up on turn one, leaving Lindgren little option but to run into him. And if the first attempt at the race was exciting, things were only just getting started!
Pedersen and Lindgren went into bend one wheel to wheel in the re-run, with the Dane forcing his rival wide on turn two. That didn’t bother the Swede, who hit back with a ruthless charge of his own up the inside to take the lead.
Woffinden piled on the pressure for second and tried to reel Pedersen in. He appeared to have the pace on the final turn, but the 41-year-old slammed the door shut and blocked the Brit on the run to the line.
Woffy and his team were incensed by the move, confronting Pedersen at the pit gate. But it clearly didn’t unsettle the Vastervik and Zielona Gora man, who cruised back to the pits before delivering a fantastic final ride.
Pedersen saw off the early attentions of Matej Zagar and Lindgren to top the SGP podium for the 17th time in his career.
It was Zagar’s best performance of the season as he ended on 16 – scoring one more than Pedersen – while Lindgren was third on 13.
Slovak star Martin Vaculik also left Malilla in jubilant mood after reaching his first final of SGP 2018 – just four months after suffering a badly broken ankle which could have ended his season.
Zmarzlik dropped just a point in his heats, finishing on 14 after his semi-final exclusion denied him to chance to score more – a huge blow to his championship chances.
This was a night that will be remembered for Pedersen’s heroics, though. Will it be his final SGP win? That remains to be seen …