FIM SPEEDWAY WORLD CUP COMEBACK FOR PEDERSEN?

17/01/2023

FIM SPEEDWAY WORLD CUP COMEBACK FOR PEDERSEN?
New Danish boss Nicki Pedersen insists he would have no problem with picking himself for this summer’s FIM Speedway World Cup – but only if he’s among the nation’s top five riders.

The 45-year-old will serve as Denmark’s team manager when the FIM SWC returns to the calendar for the first time in six seasons at Wroclaw’s Olympic Stadium from July 25-29.

Having won three Speedway GP world titles and four FIM SWC gold medals, Pedersen is undoubtedly Denmark’s most successful rider of the 21st century.

Despite suffering a badly broken hip and pelvis in a PGE Ekstraliga crash at Grudziadz on June 5, Pedersen is recovering well and plans to continue his racing career with Grudziadz and Danish side Holsted. He will also star with his family in Team Pedersen, a reality TV series on Denmark’s Kanal 5 and Discovery+, launching on February 9.

On top of all these roles, he refuses to rule out selecting himself for what would be his first Danish national team racing appearance since 2015.

Pedersen named himself in the Elite A2 group of riders when he announced his first national squad on Monday, with Speedway GP trio Leon Madsen, Mikkel Michelsen and Anders Thomsen leading the Elite A1 group. But that doesn’t mean Pedersen couldn’t still give himself a promotion.

He admits the question of picking himself came up in his interview with Denmark’s Motor Union. “That was one of the things they asked me,” he said. “I said ‘well that’s easy. If you put me in as manager, I don’t need to negotiate with the manager whether I should be in the team or not. I can just put myself in.’ They were laughing.”

Pedersen did not race under previous boss Hans Nielsen, the four-time world champion who managed the Danes from 2016 until 2022. But that doesn’t mean he plans to give himself a place in red and white unless it’s the right thing for his country.

“I am not completely stupid,” he said. “If I am not in the top five for the World Cup, then I would not put myself in. If I am No.5 or No.6, I would rather take the No.6 spot and put someone else in.

“If I put myself in, then there is a hell of a lot of pressure to achieve things. I don’t have a problem with pressure. If I am good enough, then I will pick myself. But that’s not important right now. This is not a target or an aim for me. When we come to picking the team in June, we will see where we are.”

Pedersen’s selection policy is a simple one. He said: “I don’t care what their name or age is, I am going to pick the best five riders for the World Cup in July. The DMU didn’t say ‘we only need to look after the youngsters and build up.’ It doesn’t work like that in my opinion. We need to pick the best team at that time.”

At Speedway GP level, it’s every rider for himself. Managing a team of riders is a completely different challenge – one that involves building a strong team spirit and nurturing the next generation of stars.

Pedersen thrived as an individual on the track in Speedway GP. But now he insists he’s ready to put country before self.

He said: “When you are working with a federation, I am there for the federation and the riders. I am not there for Nicki Pedersen. When we discussed the job, the DMU maybe just had to digest that a little bit themselves and actually realise that I wanted to help the federation.

“If I was still competing in the GPs, it would be a different story. But I haven’t heard any riders in Denmark – the top, top ones – complaining. They’re saying it’s actually a very, very good idea because I have been through everything.

“I have tried everything in speedway, and they know I have a good heart for the sport. I am only there to help them because I am not doing it for the money.

“This is not a job you do for the money – that’s why it is important that I can still do my racing and my other work. I need to have this other work to be able to do this job.”