Danish champion Niels-Kristian Iversen insists the big races still bring the best out of him after he bounced back from his Monster Energy SWC heartbreak with Adrian Flux British FIM Speedway Grand Prix glory in Cardiff.
Iversen topped the rostrum in front of over 40,000 fans at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday night after scorching around Chris Holder on lap one to win the final in spectacular style.
His compatriot Peter Kildemand was third, while Britain’s World Championship leader Tai Woffinden must wait for his first home win after finishing fourth.
NKI’s triumph at world speedway’s biggest event underlines the incredible highs and lows of the sport.
Just three weeks ago, the Danish national team skipper suffered the agony of being excluded from heat 20 of the Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup Final at Vojens on June 15, when he had a rush of blood and clattered Poland’s Przemyslaw Pawlicki in a last-heat decider for gold with Sweden.
Tonight his sublime swoop around Holder paid off big time. Even though he knows the Danish disappointment will take some getting over, Iversen was glad he delivered again when it mattered.
He said: “I haven’t done that many Grand Prix finals, but I’ve got four wins from eight. It just gives me that little bit extra when I get to one. It brings out the best in me. A big race brought a little bit too much out of me in the World Cup. I think that one will haunt me until the end of time!
“That’s the way it goes. You win some, you lose some. You have to do your best. This one worked for me and it’s a great feeling.
“I knew I had the speed after the semi-final when I came from last to second, and I put myself in a good position in the first corner. Then I had a chance.
“It was all or nothing. I would have been pleased to get to the podium after how the night went, so to win it was even better.
“I knew when I hit the front that I had it. The speed was there and I just had to keep it on. It was fantastic; a great feeling.”
Iversen’s triumph saw him jump from ninth to fourth in the World Championship standings. But he’s still 20 points adrift of top dog Woffinden and knows he needs even more consistency to reel the Brit in.
He said: “I’m in fourth position, but there are still eight rounds left. Only four have been done now. There’s such a long way to go.
“You have to put in performances in every meeting to be in contention when the season finishes. I don’t see myself as a favourite because I won this meeting. I need to be a bit more consistent and I need to up my game a little bit more if I’m really going to be in with a title shot.
“There are other riders who are more consistent than I am at the moment. But this is definitely a step in the right direction.
“Hopefully it can give me a bit of a boost confidence-wise. I know I have some bikes that are working quite well now and when you get that feeling you have the speed, pace and ability, things just happen a little bit easier. Hopefully this can push me a little bit on the way.”
Iversen is delighted to have bounced back from a dip in confidence at the start of the season after returning from the serious knee ligament damage which ended his 2014 campaign last August.
He said: “It was a tough one after the injury. I felt pretty good when I started the league meetings in March, but when it really mattered, I felt I’d lost a little bit of belief that I can really do it and feel good on a bike.
“That makes a huge difference in speedway. If you feel good, you ride well. If you feel 95 percent, then you’ll never make it when you come to this level.”