Danish star Mikkel Michelsen hopes lessons learned in his FIM Speedway Grand Prix debut season will help him hit top form in his comeback year – despite admitting he nearly turned down the call-up.
Michelsen was drafted into the Speedway GP line-up for the 2020 season just two weeks before round one. This was after German racer Martin Smolinski was forced to sit out due to a hip injury.
The Lublin star endured a difficult season, finishing 14th in the final standings as he struggled for speed.
Michelsen bounced back in style last year, winning his second Speedway European Championship to guarantee his place in his season’s Speedway GP series. He also made his FIM Speedway of Nations debut, winning bronze at the Final in Manchester.
The 27-year-old is determined to learn from his previous Speedway GP experience, even if he wasn’t sure about taking up the opportunity.
He said: “We are all professionals, so you always have to be prepared. But, like I’ve said many times before, when I got that call in 2020, all I wanted to do was turn down the offer. But you might say no now and you never get the chance again. I had to say yes even though we were not in the best of places at that time, struggling with equipment that year, obviously.
“I saw how everything works. Obviously I’ve been wild card in the past and stuff like that, but that’s for one day. Being in a series and seeing it from that point of view was very different.
“So that year gave me some knowledge about how everything is working. Obviously this year is going to be very different because Discovery has taken over, and there’s going to be a lot of things going on throughout the events. It’s going to be new to everybody for sure. But everything seems and looks exciting. I am very, very eager to get started.”
Asked what lessons he took from 2020, Michelsen smiled: “Don’t be slow! I learned a lot of things about me. Team-wise, we learned also how we should be better, what we can do better, what we can improve etc. So yes there were some things to take away from that. Obviously, there were probably more negatives than positives from that year.
“But in general we were learning. I obviously always show up to win, but we knew it was going to be an uphill battle from the get-go with how everything was at that time.
“The timing was not great. You can say a lot about getting the two weeks’ notice but, like I said, we are all professionals and should always be prepared. But it’s a different year now. I’m ready; the team is working very well together. And like I said, my tuner – Fleming Graversen – has done a great, great job on my engines, so I can’t complain.”
Michelsen is determined to climb much higher in 2022. He said: “Obviously, I go into to every single heat, every single meeting to win. And I’m going to have the same approach this year. But also from a realistic point of view, the top six is the main target.
“This is the first real season for me in the GP series and I want to do well, but I also want to be realistic and not be cocky. I’m confident in myself, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve got to be realistic at the end of the day.
“So we want to ease into things this year, obviously I’m going to do my absolute best every single time I go on to the track and I’m here to fight for the world title, but if I can finish in the top six then I’ll be more than happy.”