MICHELSEN: TOP SIX STILL THE AIM

PAUL BURBIDGE

Danish racer Mikkel Michelsen insists his goal remains an FIM Speedway Grand Prix top-six finish after reaching his first-ever Speedway GP final in Croatia on Saturday night.

Michelsen roared to third place at the FIM Speedway GP of Croatia – Donji Kraljevec, joining winner Bartosz Zmarzlik and runner-up Maciej Janowski on the podium.

The European champion has been tipped by some pundits as a dark horse in the 2022 Speedway GP rostrum race, and his sensational start to the season at Speedway Stadion Milenium justified those predictions.

But Michelsen isn’t getting too carried away, despite building on a sensational start to the season with his Polish club Lublin and Danish side Slangerup.

He said: “I know what I can do and I know what I am capable of doing. The realistic goal is obviously to finish in the top six and automatically qualify for next year’s series.

“But that said, the mentality is I am coming here to win every single race and win the GP. That’s the mindset; we will see where it takes us at the end of the year. The main goal is the top six, though.

“I am very satisfied and very happy with my third position in Croatia. When you are in the final, you would obviously like to be standing on the top step, but the points are the most important thing, especially in such a long series. I haven’t had good results in Croatia in the past, so I have to take the position.”

Michelsen is in his second Speedway GP season after being called up as a late replacement for the injured Martin Smolinski in 2020.

The Rybnik-based star finished 14th in the standings and struggled for form that year as all eight rounds were contested over just five weeks due to the pandemic.

But his third place in Croatia means that he has already scored 16 points from one round – half the 32 points he achieved in the whole season two years ago. Michelsen appears to have progressed well since his Speedway GP exit and admits his previous opportunity came at the wrong time.

He said: “Two years ago, I was in a tough period in the season and struggling a lot with equipment and myself. I was not racing very well. Getting the call-up to do a very compact, Covid-hit GP series was not ideal. Obviously I had to say yes and get the best out of it, but it wasn’t great. So I am very satisfied to return this season with a final and a third place.”

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