Danish skipper Niels-Kristian Iversen insists nothing less than gold will do when his side defends their Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup crown at Vojens Speedway Center in Denmark on Saturday (June 13).
Iversen spearheads a quartet, featuring triple world champion Nicki Pedersen, SGP first reserve Peter Kildemand and Vojens expert Kenneth Bjerre, with Michael Jepsen Jensen named as reserve.
They tackle neighbours Sweden, who triumphed in Event 1 at Polish track Gniezno on Saturday, and Australia, who won Event 2 at British venue King’s Lynn on Monday.
The line-up for one of the most exciting nights on the world speedway calendar will be completed by the victorious nation from Thursday’s notoriously cutthroat Monster Energy SWC Race Off at Vojens, where Poland face Great Britain, Russia and the USA.
Denmark hope to become the first home Monster Energy SWC winners since Poland in 2011. And nothing less than victory will satisfy ambitious skipper Iversen.
He said: “Second places don’t really count in my book. I want to win gold. That’s why I’m here and that’s what I’m going for. We’ve had a good three years – a couple of golds and a silver. Hopefully we can continue that.”
After lifting the title at Malilla in 2012 and Bydgoszcz, Poland last year, it’s no surprise Denmark are favourites, and especially with them racing on home shale in front of a huge home crowd.
Being favourites and hosts comes with expectation and pressure, but that’s no problem for Iversen. “Personally, I don’t worry about it,” he said. “There is always added pressure; it doesn’t matter if you’re at home or away. If we’re at home, we want to win it. If we’re away, we still want to win it.
“We’re defending champions and there should be added pressure from us being defending champions. It suits me okay. I’ll do what I can to get the points and I’m sure everyone else will do the same.
“Racing at this level is not new to our team – we’re used to all this. We have a good handful of riders who can do it on the day. Most of them have experience now. It will be handy to have a bit of experience when we get going, but we have to be up for it if we want to win again.”
Iversen expects far from an easy ride for his men on Saturday. “Sweden and Australia are there too – anyone can do it on their day,” he said.
“You can’t rule anyone out. It’s hard and there are always other teams capable of pulling off upsets and having a good tournament. But we’ll focus on our job – not the other teams.”
The Monster Energy SWC Race Off colour draw was made at King’s Lynn on Monday. The USA race in red, while Poland are drawn in blue. Russia compete in white and the Brits line up in yellow.