Slovak star Martin Vaculik says Bjarne Pedersen’s ultra-professional approach prompted him to recruit the Danish legend as his new FIM Speedway Grand Prix manager.
Double FIM Speedway World Cup winner Pedersen retired from racing at the end of last season having helped Peterborough’s iconic Dad’s Army team to SGB Premiership title glory.
Following his fourth top-flight title win in the UK, he confirmed he was seeking a new challenge and Vaculik wasted no time in snapping up the services of his 2011 team mate at Polish club Tarnow.
In an era when Speedway GP riders leave no stone unturned to find peak performance, Vaculik believes Pedersen is the ideal man to help him push for the sport’s biggest prize.
He said: “At this time in 2022, more or less everybody at the top of the sport is professional. Everybody works on their fitness, trains hard, eats right and has a private trainer – they live the way sportsmen should live.
“But Bjarne was doing all this nearly 15 years ago! When everybody else was still sleeping at the hotel in the morning, Bjarne was running around the lake. Instead of eating a Snickers bar, he ate a banana or apple.
“This is how I remember him and this is what I love, and I wanted to do it like that. I like his professionalism – his bikes were always clean and ready to race.
“He always had such a professional team around him. At the time when everybody had a big van, Bjarne also had a big van and he had a perfect relationship with his sponsors. There are so many things I can learn from him.”
Pedersen extended his career into 2021, having initially planned to retire in 2020, only for that season to be badly disrupted by the pandemic. Vaculik admits this delayed his plans to bring Bjarne on board.
He said: “I think we first started speaking about it before the 2020 season. But then the coronavirus came and that changed everything. Bjarne also changed his plans a little bit. We came back to it after last season.
“As I remember, when we first spoke about future co-operation, he was slowly starting to think about ending his career and I just asked him what he would like to do and whether he would be interested in helping another rider.
“Me and Bjarne have the same view on many things. This is very good, and Bjarne is a legend in the sport. He has been in the sport for such a long time and was a very good rider. He’s very professional. This is the way I like to be, so I am looking forward to working with a person like Bjarne.”
Vaculik is keen to make the most of a vastly-experienced second pair of eyes in the heat of Speedway GP battle.
He said: “In speedway, you need to have a person next to you when you want to have the best results – someone who watches the bike on the track and shares their feelings with you.
“You give your feelings and feedback from the track and then he says what he sees and listens to how your engine is working. He can keep an eye on track conditions and everything like that.
“I also like Bjarne as a person. He may be quieter than other guys; but he’s more focused and that’s what I like.”