MALILLA WILD CARD BERNTZON STILL DREAMING OF SPEEDWAY GP

17/09/2022

MALILLA WILD CARD BERNTZON STILL DREAMING OF SPEEDWAY GP
Swedish champion Oliver Berntzon refuses to give up on his Speedway GP dream as he returns to the sport’s biggest stage in Malilla tonight.

Berntzon endured a Speedway GP season to forget in 2021, scoring 32 points from 11 rounds to end his first full-time season 15th in the standings.

But his fortunes have improved very dramatically this year. The Lejonen and Ostrow star was crowned Swedish champion in Linkoping in June, before ending the FIM Speedway of Nations with a world championship bronze medal.

Berntzon was the highest-scoring star of all 15 nations in the FIM SON, bagging 20 points in Semi-Final 2 and another 20 in the Final. Now he’s determined to deliver another big performance in tonight’s Kaeser FIM Speedway GP of Sweden – Malilla.

He suffered heartbreak in his bid to secure a Speedway GP comeback after crashing in practice ahead of the FIM GP Challenge in Glasgow on August 20, sustaining a broken collarbone.

He could only look on as fellow countryman Kim Nilsson blazed to a shock victory to book his place in the 2023 Speedway GP series. It was a bittersweet experience for Berntzon to see another Swede storm through on a night he was tipped among the favourites to qualify.

The Ostrow man said: “It was very mixed feelings – I can tell you that. Kim is a very, very good friend of mine, so I was obviously very happy for him. I remember when I qualified and it is an amazing feeling. It’s a dream come true – one we dream for our whole careers. I couldn’t be anything other than happy for him.

“I missed the meeting and that’s how it is – I just have to keep trying. I have done it before, so I know I can do it again.”

A big performance from Berntzon tonight could put him in contention for one of five wild-card places on offer for 2022 from the SGP Commission. But the rider knows consistency is key.

He said: “If I can consistently perform as I did in the Speedway of Nations, and I have done it in the leagues, a wild card won’t be far off. I just need to step it up and keep it at the top level all the time. Then things will sort themselves out.”

Berntzon showed he could deliver at the very highest level with a sensational FIM SON in Vojens.

But asked if he expected his fantastic 40-point haul, he admitted: “No, absolutely not. I do have it in me and I have shown it before; I have just been lacking the consistency and haven’t been able to stay at that high level for the whole season.

“I was just very happy that everything clicked at the SON and I guess I got to show everyone that I belong at this level. Now I just need to get more consistent.”

Berntzon is delighted with his turnaround in form this year as he bounces back from the problems he endured in 2021.

Asked what went wrong during a Speedway GP baptism of fire, he said: “It was many small things. Last year didn’t start well for me. We got lost with the engines and equipment. We got into a bad circle and when the start of the Speedway GP season was delayed last year, it was very tense. We were almost racing every weekend – Friday and Saturday.

“Then I had league racing in between and there was basically no time to find the problems. We just had time to clean the bikes and then it was time to race again. We never had time to sit down and analyse what the problems were. We just kept on going and dug the hole even deeper.

“In late August when we changed some of the engines and equipment, some things started working again in the play-offs and it was getting better in the last few Speedway GP rounds. We have stuck with that this season and believed in it. Now it is paying off.”

On current form, Berntzon has every reason to fancy his chances of a Kaeser FIM Swedish Speedway GP podium tonight.

“I know I can do it,” he said. “I just need to get a good start to the meeting and get things right with the bike setup. Then anything is possible.

“I’m just going to go there and do the Qualifying Practice as well as I can and then race five heats, hopefully more, and see how we go.

“Hopefully it is going to benefit me that I can come here with no pressure. I am just going to give it my all in every heat and then we will see.”