King’s Lynn Stars number one Niels-Kristian Iversen and his Denmark troops fell just short of retaining their world speedway crown on Sunday.
Danish skipper Iversen took a costly tumble late in the 2015 Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup Final at Vojens Speedway Center.
Sweden capitalised on some catastrophic luck for hosts, holders and red-hot favourites Denmark to snatch gold on 34 points, just pipping the Danes who finished on 32 in the greatest Monster Energy SWC Final in recent memory.
A young Polish team scored 27 to beat Australia (26) to bronze by one point.
Sweden enjoyed some huge fortune in their last two races, which saw Denmark’s Kenneth Bjerre, the Lynn heat leader, break down at the start line in heat 19, before Iversen was excluded for felling Poland’s Przemyslaw Pawlicki in heat 20.
That catastrophic run of misfortune for the Danes meant second place or better was enough for Andreas Jonsson to seal the Monster Energy SWC title in a last-race decider. Despite the weight of a nation on his shoulders, the Stockholm-born star took the chequered flag in the re-run and simply refused to crack under the pressure.
Iversen produced the epic, last-heat, last-bend pass which sealed the Monster Energy SWC title at Bydgoszcz last summer.
This year he couldn’t bring home the gold and the Odense-born racer was visibly distraught after the costliest of exclusions.
He said: “I was quick enough and I had good speed. I went for a gap. Pawlicki parked it a little bit in front of me and I picked up a little bit at the same time. It was down to me to bring home those points and I didn’t do that. It’s really disappointing.
“It wasn’t in the stars for us to win it today. It was a great competition and it was really close all the way through with the teams. It was a great event.
“But you need a bit of luck and we didn’t have that. Fair play to Sweden; they won it and it was close all the way through.”
The meeting was restaged on Sunday due to rain on the previous day.
Swedish skipper Andreas Jonsson says his side’s teamwork was a triumph as they snatched their first World Cup for 11 years at Vojens.
The Swedes last lifted the Ove Fundin Trophy at British track Poole in 2004 and Denmark and Poland have dominated the competition ever since.
Sweden started the day as rank outsiders to lift the trophy, but with Jonsson (12), Fredrik Lindgren (11), Antonio Lindback (seven) and Linus Sundstrom (four) all contributing useful points, manager Morgan Andersson’s men pulled off a famous win.
A delighted Jonsson was elated with Sweden’s team effort. He said: “We did the best we could. I knew we were up against some really good riders, but we kept our cool and took care of the points we could. We worked as a team, and I think that’s what made us win.
“After heat 18, we were four points down and I thought ‘this is going to be really tough.’ We still believed, though, and when Freddie went out and won his last ride in heat 19, I thought ‘we’ve got nothing to lose now; we can do it.’
“It’s a team effort and you have to make sure you don’t make too many mistakes. Every mistake costs you.
“Denmark and Poland were the favourites. Denmark had a bit of bad luck. But it’s all about working as a team and collecting the points, which we did.”
The action switches back to the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series which comes back in style on July 4 with the Adrian Flux British SGP at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
MONSTER ENERGY SWC FINAL SCORES:
SWEDEN 34: 1 Antonio Lindback 7, 2 Andreas Jonsson 12, 3 Linus Sundstrom 4, 4 Fredrik Lindgren 11.
DENMARK 32: 1 Peter Kildemand 13, 2 Nicki Pedersen 4, 3 Niels-Kristian Iversen 9, 4 Kenneth Bjerre 6.
POLAND 27: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 3, 2 Krzysztof Buczkowski 4, 3 Maciej Janowski 11, 4 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 9.
AUSTRALIA 26: 1 Chris Holder 8, 2 Jason Doyle 8, 3 Nick Morris 2, 4 Troy Batchelor 8.