Double Danish champ Niels-Kristian Iversen is determined to stay on the World Championship medal rostrum after he was crowned Prince of PARKEN with a famous Danish FIM Speedway Grand Prix victory.
The world No.3 won the final in Copenhagen on Saturday night ahead of Troy Batchelor – the Aussie ace’s sole defeat of the night as he fell agonisingly short of an unforgettable seven-ride maximum.
American legend Greg Hancock finished third to move a point ahead of Great Britain’s Tai Woffinden at the World Championship summit going into the British SGP at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on July 12.
But it was NKI who had the biggest cause for celebration as he became the first Dane to win in Copenhagen since Hans Andersen in 2006, before receiving his trophy from HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, who was guest of honour at PARKEN.
Having stormed back on to the medal rostrum and up to third in the World Championship, Iversen would love to continue spraying the champagne and has set his sights on staying in the SGP series’ top three.
The 2013 bronze medallist said: “My aim is a medal, but there is still a long way to go. I know I’m in third position at the moment, but we’re still only halfway. A lot of points can slip and a lot of things can happen.
“It’s just about taking one meeting at a time, getting these points and solid performances. Then I am sure I will be in contention for something good at the end. Of course my goal is to get on the rostrum again, but there is a long way to go.”
Iversen was elated to win the last FIM Speedway Grand Prix event to be held at PARKEN.
He said: “It almost felt unreal, to be honest. It’s the last Grand Prix in the stadium and I managed to nick it.
“I took a little bit of a gamble with my bike in the final to try and make it go faster. I knew I didn’t have the speed to be able to win the race in the semis. It helped a bit. It wasn’t perfect, but I just managed to squeeze into that first corner in the lead.
“It was hard. There were bikes coming together in the first turn and it was a man’s ride on that first lap. I’m just happy I could make it around for all four laps and win in the end.”
The Danish national team captain admitted earlier this week that he arrived in Copenhagen over-confident in 2013, as he recorded just four points – his worst result of the season. Despite tonight’s success, NKI promises there will be no let-up in his hard work.
He said: “When you get over-confident, it’s not a good situation to be in because you get comfortable. That’s not a place where you want to be. No matter how good things are – you should never get too comfortable.
“It is easy to get in that position where you are a bit comfortable and when things just fall into place. Sometimes you can stop putting the work in, which is the reason why you are where you are. I’ve definitely learned from that in the past and it’s not going to happen.”
One of the biggest moments of Iversen’s career was crowned by receiving the top prize from Denmark’s first in line to the throne – HRH Crown Prince Frederik.
He said: “The prince is a cool guy. He’s doing a good job. He’s a tough man – really sporty. He’s into all kinds of sports. He’s an inspiration to a lot of people.”
Batchelor blitzed through his heats with a 15-point maximum, before winning his semi-final in style. So he was gutted miss out on the first SGP seven-ride maximum since Tomasz Gollob racked up 24 points at Vojens in September 2010.
The Queenslander, who is 11th and now only eight points off the top eight, was delighted to see everything click into place as he produced the performance of his career so far.
He said: “I think I really needed that result today to give me that boost and try and pick myself up and get into that top eight.
“Today was one of those days where speedway was easy. I didn’t learn anything – I just went and rode. It’s weird – it felt like it was in slow motion. I knew where people were going to go, I cut back and I passed them.
“I feel like Tai Woffinden today. That’s what he had last year and that’s what he had in the last couple of GPs. People get that, they get on a roll and that feeling is great.”
Third-placed Greg Hancock refused to get carried away, despite moving top on 73 points – one ahead of Woffinden.
He said: “It’s a long season and what matters most to me is being the champ and being in the lead at the end. You can never count your chickens. There is a long way to go still and like I’ve always said, I’m in it for the long run. We’ll see what happens.”
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Greg Hancock 73, 2 Tai Woffinden 72, 3 Niels-Kristian Iversen 62, 4 Nicki Pedersen 60, 5 Matej Zagar 60, 6 Darcy Ward 60, 7 Chris Holder 55, 8 Jaroslaw Hampel 54, 9 Krzysztof Kasprzak 49, 10 Fredrik Lindgren 47, 11 Troy Batchelor 46, 12 Martin Smolinski 45, 13 Andreas Jonsson 41, 14 Kenneth Bjerre 35, 15 Chris Harris 20, 16 Peter Kildemand 15, 17 Michael Jepsen Jensen 8, 18 Peter Ljung 7, 19 Adrian Miedzinski 5, 20 Joonas Kylmakorpi 5, 21 Kauko Nieminen 4, 22 Jason Bunyan 2, 23 Vaclav Milik 2.
COPENHAGEN SCORES: 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen 16, 2 Troy Batchelor 20, 3 Greg Hancock 11, 4 Peter Kildemand 15, 5 Jaroslaw Hampel 10, 6 Tai Woffinden 9, 7 Darcy Ward 9, 8 Michael Jepsen Jensen 8, 9 Matej Zagar 7, 10 Krzysztof Kasprzak 7, 11 Andreas Jonsson 6, 12 Nicki Pedersen 5, 13 Martin Smolinski 5, 14 Fredrik Lindgren 4, 15 Kenneth Bjerre 3, 16 Chris Harris 3, 17 Mikkel Michelsen 0, 18 Mikkel Bech DNR.