Motorsport Memories with Niels-Kristian Iversen

In the first of a new series brought to you by Adrian Flux, seven-time Danish champion, four-time World Cup winner and Speedway Grand Prix star Niels-Kristian Iversen relives his top three Motorsport Memories – as well as his favourite recollection from his time racing at King’s Lynn’s Adrian Flux Arena. 

You can read Iversen’s thoughts or listen to them by clicking play on the embedded video below.

Favourite memory of riding at the Adrian Flux Arena – 2013 World Cup ‘Semi Final’ win with Denmark at King’s Lynn

It’s also a tough one. I had a lot of great memories with the club (King’s Lynn) there. I spent seven seasons there. Obviously we didn’t win a championship when I was there – we had a few agonising moments when we have been in the (play-off) finals and lost them.

So my favourite memory of the Adrian Flux Arena is a World Cup meeting. We won a World Cup meeting there with Denmark. I can’t exactly remember how far it was in the tournament. I think it was in 2013 or 2014 and I just remember we were strong in that event. We were really good. We had a great team. I just remember the whole event really well from the practice sessions and team building and everything. That was a great experience and a great memory as well so yeah, good times.

Third favourite memory – Winning the 2015 Adrian Flux British Speedway Grand Prix 

The former King’s Lynn rider hits the front in Cardiff in 2015.

Winning in Cardiff in 2015, that was one of the highlights definitely. Cardiff is one of the biggest scenes we ride on and I managed to come in and win the meeting so that was definitely one of the favourites. 

I felt a bit poorly before the meeting actually. I just didn’t feel very well and I felt like I had some kind of food bug going on and it was just really odd. I felt drained between the races and I didn’t really manage to sort of hit my best form until later on in the meeting. I, sort of, kept battling my way through the semis and then into the final and in the final I just hit it right and won the meeting. It wasn’t one of my best performances overall during the whole meeting but the way I came in and won it when it mattered was special.

I remember after the meeting we wanted to go downtown and celebrate with a meal with my sponsors and friends. But I was just knackered from that food poisoning thing. I’m not exactly sure what it was but I started to throw up and stuff when I got back to the hotel and that was it for my night. So there was no big celebrations after so that was a bit of a shame but it was still a big night.

It’s obviously one of the biggest events on the calendar. The whole venue is amazing. It’s just everything about it. I think when riders are growing up many of them have probably been to Cardiff and experienced the atmosphere and the whole build up to the meeting. It’s one of them which you sort of dream about winning and dream about just riding in as a kid. I would imagine it’s pretty high up on everybody’s list when you’re coming into the stage and want to achieve something. For me it’s always been a big one to participate in but to win it as well was just great and I hope I can win it again in the future. 

Second favourite memory – Last-lap, last corner overtake in the last race of the final to clinch World Cup gold for Denmark in 2014

Denmark’s hero celebrates his heart-stopping 2014 World Cup final success

It’s been very difficult to pick because I have quite a lot of good memories. But I think my second favourite memory was Bydgoszcz, 2014, when I managed to make a pass on the line and win the World Cup for Denmark to claim the crown for Denmark as captain and win the world title for the fourth time at the time. That was definitely also among the great moments of my career so far.

I don’t really remember what happened inside the helmet after the race. I was so pumped really and I had to reassure (myself) that we did actually win it because I was just so focused on making the pass. I didn’t even win the race, that’s the funny thing about it. Still it was such a special moment because everything was on the line. We were in Poland and we know how difficult it is to beat Poland in Poland. Everything was down to the last race, we were equal on points with Poland and whoever won the race (between us) was going to be world champion. There was everything to lose and there was everything to win. It was either all or nothing.

I didn’t make the start and I just had to battle my way into the race and take him little by little each lap and try and make the move (to pass Janusz Kolodziej into second) at the right time. You can’t screw up too early in the race because then the race would be over. You need to make sure that you do the right move at the right time so you don’t lose your speed and lose the race as well. 

I can’t remember exactly step by step in the race but obviously I’ve watched it several times and I can see what I’m doing and I can see why I’m doing the different things on each lap, just trying to wheel him in and do the pass. It doesn’t happen very often in your speedway career that you’re in this position. I remember before the race I was like; ‘This is cool. Being in a position like this, this is something you dream about as a kid. When everything is on the line and you have to decide everything for the nation. It was not just for yourself, it was something more’. That was cool. I didn’t seem to be affected by the nerves and the pressure. It sort of lifted me up a bit and it was a proud moment.

Favourite memory – Winning the 2014 Danish Grand Prix/Finishing third in the 2013 Grand Prix Series 

Niels-Kristian Iversen, right, joins Jarek Hampel, left, and Tai Woffinden on the final 2013 Grand Prix series podium 

I have probably a shared top one. But I would say my favourite speedway moment in my career so far is when I won in Copenhagen in 2014, the Grand Prix there, and received the trophy from the Prince of Denmark. That was a special moment. 

But I would say the bigger one was when I finished third in the world championship in 2013.

It wasn’t a race win or a Grand Prix win but when I was standing on the podium in the world championship it was something I probably thought would never happen early on in my career. When I finally achieved that it was definitely my favourite moment so far.

It’s definitely emotional because this was my first year sort of coming back into the Grand Prix. I had a few seasons early on, in 2006 and 2008, and I didn’t manage to keep my spot at the time. I was obviously a lot younger, a lot more inexperienced. Then I had a couple of years out (of the Grand Prix) where things were pretty rough and I had some injuries that sort of set my career back a bit. 

All of a sudden things just worked out my way. I was working hard to get back to the Grand Prix and I was working really hard to improve my game overall and things just started to fall into place and (I) started to be really really consistent and really really good everywhere. In 2013, that was the first year I requalified for the Grand Prix, and I was pretty open. I was just like: ‘Yeah, cool, I’m just going to go in and see what I can make of it’. 

My form was great everywhere. I won two Grand Prix’s that year. I hadn’t become world champion, as you can say ‘only third’, but that third for me at the time was huge. It was sort of a combination of all the work I’d put in at the time and it was a reward for the whole season. 

I won two Grand Prix’s that year which was a big thing too but I think the final result was a combination of these results. That year I also had a great Grand Prix in Stockholm where I scored 18 points. I went in the tapes in my first race and then I won the rest of the races but I haven’t even mentioned that in my top three here. I think this bronze medal was a part of that result as well. Everything was in that medal and it was obviously something I’d worked for my entire career.

As I said I haven’t even won the biggest prize yet, which is the world championship. To date this is (third) my best result overall. Ever since I’ve been trying to chase a bigger result. I try to work harder and try to top that. But I haven’t succeeded since to beat it. I think it just proves how hard the game is and how well you have to ride and how good you have to be to be up there. As I see it, you finish third or you finish first or you finish fifth – it’s small details, everything is in the details. You need a bit of luck, you need a lot of obviously talent and determination, but it’s small details which decide if you win and lose. It’s tough up there.

Niels-Kristian Iversen was talking to Gavin Caney.

Photo credits: Jarek Pabijan & ToInspire.

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