Event 2 Preview: Swedes out to avoid Race Off roulette
ANDERSSON EYES FINAL PUSH
Swedish team manager Stefan Andersson is desperate to lead his side to victory in Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup Event 2 at Vastervik on Tuesday night and avoid playing Race Off roulette.
Andersson has picked Swedish champ Andreas Jonsson, Vastervik racer Peter Ljung, the in-form Tomas H Jonasson and Oliver Berntzon for his debut meeting as national boss against Denmark, Latvia and the Czech Republic.
The winners advance straight to the Monster Energy SWC Final at Polish track Bydgoszcz on Saturday, where they tackle Poland and Team Great Britain, winners of Event 1 on Saturday.
The second and third-placed teams qualify for the Race Off at Bydgoszcz on Thursday, where they join a spirited USA side led by double world champion Greg Hancock, and Australia, who expect 2012 world champ Chris Holder to return from injury to strengthen them significantly. The winners claim the last spot in Saturday’s Final.
It’s a meeting Andersson is keen to avoid and he hopes Sweden can make the most of home advantage to book their spot via the Vastervik event.
He said: “I don’t think anyone wants to be in that Race Off. From the beginning, we always wanted to head straight to the Final.
“I expected Australia to go straight through on Saturday, to be honest, but Britain did it and now Australia are in the Race Off. I hear Chris is going to do some practising this week, so it looks like he’s going to be there.
“Of course it will be really tough to get through to the Final there, so tomorrow is very, very important for us.
“I’m really confident every time I put a team on paper and on the track. We’re going for the win; whatever happens. That’s what we’re aiming for – going straight through to the Final. If we don’t, we’ll go to the Race Off and do our best there.
“I’m the junior team manager as well and we had a good success to go through to the FIM Team Speedway Under-21 World Championship Final with them. Now we’re going to try and bring the seniors to the Final too. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Andersson admits he was surprised by Denmark’s decision to omit triple world champ Nicki Pedersen and world No.3 Niels-Kristian Iversen from their team for Event 2. They line up with Vastervik star Hans Andersen as captain, former Vastervik veteran Bjarne Pedersen, Mads Korneliussen and Danish SGP finalist Peter Kildemand.
The Swedish boss is determined to make them regret their decision to track a weakened team by dumping their neighbours into the Race Off, but he knows the triple SWC winners will take some beating.
He said: “The team selection was a little bit surprising. I don’t know whether the Danes were just that confident that they could get through the Race Off if they didn’t go straight to the Final or whether Nicki and Niels wanted a vacation. But if we win at Vastervik, it will be tough for the Danes to go through.
“There are still some good riders in the team they have picked. Bjarne was at Vastervik for many, many years and Hans is there now. Mads is probably the best away rider on that track this year. Kildemand is there for a reason – he is such a brilliant rider. It’s going to be tough.”
Andersson hands a debut to Swedish youngster Berntzon at Vastervik. Despite some stuttering displays since he received the dream call-up, his boss is backing him to come good when it matters.
He said: “Oliver has probably had his worst three meetings since being picked for the team, but that’s normal. He’s such a young guy. On his day, he is so quick. Hopefully he can produce some better gating tomorrow. If he does, no-one is going to catch him in that field.”
Tickets are still available at Vastervik’s Stena Arena tomorrow. Fans can also buy online and print at home. Click here for more details: http://www.monsterenergyswc.com/swc_events#event2
MONSTER ENERGY SWC EVENT 2 TEAMS
CZECH REPUBLIC (RED): 1 Vaclav Milik, 2 Josef Franc, 3 Ales Dryml (captain), 4 Eduard Krcmar.
LATVIA (BLUE): 1 Maksims Bogdanovs (captain), 2 Kasts Puodzuks, 3 Andzejs Lebedevs, 4 Jevgenijs Kostigovs.
DENMARK (WHITE): 1 Hans Andersen (captain), 2 Bjarne Pedersen, 3 Peter Kildemand, 4 Mads Korneliussen.
SWEDEN (YELLOW): 1 Tomas H Jonasson, 2 Oliver Berntzon, 3 Peter Ljung, 4 Andreas Jonsson (captain).