Nicki Pedersen wins Swedish FIM Speedway GP
Triple world champion Nicki Pedersen declared “I’m in for the battle” after keeping up the pressure on FIM Speedway World Championship rival Tai Woffinden with victory in the Swedish FIM Speedway Grand Prix.
Pedersen picked up his second SGP win of the season at Malilla’s G&B Arena on Saturday night after seeing off the hard-charging Brit in the final, with Swedish wild card Antonio Lindback third and Slovenian star Matej Zagar claiming fourth place.
With the Dane recording 17 points along with Woffinden, the 2013 world champ remains nine points clear at the top on 90, with Pedersen on 81 at the halfway point in the series.
With six rounds still to race, Pedersen is determined to continue taking the fight to Woffinden, not least in his home round – the Kjærgaard Danish SGP in Horsens on August 8.
He said: “I had the speed and thought I could make a good first and second corner. I did and I won it.
“I could feel Tai there. He’s going in the right direction and he’s fast. He is not the best gater in the world, but he makes good cutbacks and things like that. At the moment, the luck is going his way.
“But I’m just enjoying myself and scoring my points. It’s still a long season and I’m in for the battle.
“It’s my second Grand Prix win of the year, and it’s definitely enjoyable.
“It’s hard to pull away or pull back points, but it is still a long season. We’re halfway. It would have been nice to get a couple of points on him in Malilla, but I scored what I needed to and that’s what counts.
“A win on top of that is good publicity. It’s good for the team and it’s good for me.
“We haven’t quite been there for the last few years, but this year we’ve put a little extra into it. It’s just a bonus when we win the GPs.”
Pedersen admits equipment issues haven’t helped his title chances over the past two years since he finished second to Chris Holder in 2012. And while he’s happy with his setup for this year, he won’t stop pursuing perfection.
He said: “This year we’ve worked hard. We’re still not there 100 percent, but we’ll get there eventually. The equipment suits me a little bit better this year and I’m enjoying my life better.
“My team is definitely working hard. They’re doing a great job. We’ll try and lift it better and better and better at every Grand Prix. If I feel something, I tell the boys what we can do better. I can be a hard boss sometimes, but they learn from me every day, which is nice.”
Prior to this season, Pedersen wasn’t only searching for his first SGP win in Denmark; he hadn’t even won a round in Scandinavia.
He triumphed at the Finnish SGP in Tampere on May 16 and was delighted to add a Malilla victory to his roll of honour. Now he’d love to complete a Scandinavian hat-trick with what would be a famous win in Horsens. Pedersen said: “Winning in Denmark would be amazing. I’ll do my best; that’s all I can do.
“Horsens is another meeting where we have to do the job. The team is working hard. Hopefully we can have a great night, enjoy ourselves and get some points on my total.”
Runner-up Woffinden was pleased to leave Malilla with a hatful of points after being dogged by illness this week. He said: “I’ve felt pretty ill all week. I’ve had a cold and I ate some bad chicken in Poland last week, so I haven’t felt the best. So to come here and ride like I have done, feeling like that, is a great achievement for me. I’m looking forward to the next meeting.
“Everybody knows how long the season is. I just have to keep my head down and keep focused.”
Woffinden also paid tribute to the army of volunteers in Malilla, who worked wonders to remove the track covers and prepare the world-class race track the G&B Arena is famous for after torrential afternoon downpours. He said: “Full credit to the people who worked here.
“I woke up and saw rain and it was coming down heavily throughout the day, so to even get this meeting on was an achievement. Congratulations to them; it proved to be a good race track.”
Third-placed Lindback saluted the Swedish fans who braved heavy rain and a delayed start to cheer him on to the rostrum.
The Rio Rocket lines up in the GP Challenge at Polish venue Rybnik on September 5, where the top three riders earn places in the 2016 SGP series. And after starring as a wild card, Lindback is determined to end his two-year absence from the series.
He said: “I want to be back in the GP. I want to be world champion, so I hope I can qualify for next year. I will do my best.
“It was a great night. The fans were amazing. I could hear them every time I went out. I loved it.”
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tai Woffinden 80, 2 Nicki Pedersen 71, 3 Greg Hancock 58, 4 Matej Zagar 53, 5 Niels-Kristian Iversen 53, 6 Chris Holder 51, 7 Jason Doyle 48, 8 Maciej Janowski 46, 9 Michael Jepsen Jensen 41, 10 Andreas Jonsson 38, 11 Chris Harris 32, 12 Jaroslaw Hampel 31, 13 Troy Batchelor 30, 14 Tomas H Jonasson 30, 15 Peter Kildemand 23, 16 Krzysztof Kasprzak 21, 17 Antonio Lindback 14, 18 Craig Cook 7, 19 Tomasz Gollob 4, 20 Bartosz Zmarzlik 3, 21 Timo Lahti 3, 22 Kasts Puodzuks 3, 23 Vaclav Milik 2, 24 Piotr Pawlicki 1, 25 Robert Lambert 1.
SWEDISH SGP SCORES: 1 Nicki Pedersen 17, 2 Tai Woffinden 17, 3 Antonio Lindback 14, 4 Matej Zagar 13, 5 Jason Doyle 11, 6 Chris Holder 10, 7 Niels-Kristian Iversen 10, 8 Greg Hancock 9, 9 Maciej Janowski 8, 10 Michael Jepsen Jensen 7, 11 Tomas H Jonasson 7, 12 Chris Harris 5, 13 Andreas Jonsson 5, 14 Peter Kildemand 3, 15 Troy Batchelor 2, 16 Krzysztof Kasprzak 0, 17 Linus Sundstrom DNR, 18 Peter Ljung DNR.