|Swedish champion Fredrik Lindgren insisted “it’s never over until it’s over” as he bids to close the gap on World Championship leader Tai Woffinden at the Betard Scandinavian FIM Speedway Grand Prix in Malilla on Saturday.
Fast Freddie has been enjoying the season of his life and is currently second in the SGP standings on 61 points. But with Great Britain racer Tai Woffinden 20 ahead on 81, the Andorra-based ace has work to do, starting in his homeland this weekend.
But Lindgren isn’t concerning himself with his rival’s numbers. He’s keen to concentrate on his own performance.
He said: “I can only focus on myself and what I am doing. Obviously Tai has been racing really well and really deserves to be in the position he is in.
“I can only focus on myself and do the absolute best I can. How good that will be, we’ll see at the end of the series.
“It’s never over until it’s over and I’m going to do everything I can to be as successful as I can be in every round.”
Lindgren is pledging to take things round by round with five SGPs still to race. He said: “I don’t look at having done five rounds and having five rounds to go. I just look to the next one and doing the best I can there.”
Lindgren is no stranger to Malilla’s G&B Arena, having represented Dackarna in the Swedish Elitserien from 2006 to 2013.
While he’s hopeful competing on his old home track in front of a passionate Swedish crowd will boost his chances, Fast Freddie admits he hasn’t raced at the Swedish forest venue recently.
He said: “Obviously I know the track pretty well. I rode for Dackarna for a number of years. I haven’t been there this year, though. Plenty of other riders have more experience of Malilla this year.
“But it’s a good race track and a track I enjoy racing on. I hope I can perform well on Saturday.
“I definitely feel I have the backing of the Swedish fans and I’m going to try my absolute best to do them proud and give them something extra to cheer about.”
A huge boost to Lindgren heading to Malilla was lifting his first Swedish Championship at current home track Eskilstuna last Saturday.
The Smederna and Czestochowa star had finished second in his national final four times, but cemented his status as Sweden’s No.1 by finally landing a special victory.
It’s another stride forward for the Orebro-born man, who has proved himself more and more capable of delivering big rides at big moments more often.
He said: “There is a kind of mental toughness you need to have to perform at these moments – whether it’s a Swedish Championship or an SGP semi-final or final. It’s not easy, but I am starting to learn more about how to perform in these situations.”
Lindgren needed all his composure to top the box in the Swedish Final, especially after coming so close for so many years.
He admitted: “Of course I could have been a bit more relaxed if I had won it before. I knew I was in really good form and red-hot favourite, but you still have to go out and do it on the track.
“It was nice to finally go out and do it, especially when it comes down to a final heat – everything has to go right in that specific heat. It was good to finally execute it the way I wanted to.”
Three current Dackarna riders line up in Malilla on Saturday, as world No.2 Patryk Dudek, Swedish-based American legend Greg Hancock and Maciej Janowski compete in the Betard Scandinavian SGP.
Janowski and Hancock are third and sixth in the World Championship respectively, with Dudek in eighth – the final automatic qualification place for the 2019 SGP series.
A big result on home shale would boost Dudek’s chances of staying in the series next year. But he admits home advantage doesn’t always pay off.
He said: “I have raced seven years in Malilla. But last year I only scored five points in the Grand Prix. Sometimes when you race at your home track, it is difficult because it’s not the same as normal. We’ll see what happens this year.”
Tickets for the Betard Scandinavian SGP are still available from the G&B Arena from 14:00 to 19:00 on Friday and from 13:00 to 20:00 on Saturday. Or buy online and print at home here: http://bit.ly/2OToQ3m.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tai Woffinden 81, 2 Fredrik Lindgren 61, 3 Maciej Janowski 59, 4 Emil Sayfutdinov 56, 5 Bartosz Zmarzlik 55, 6 Greg Hancock 53, 7 Artem Laguta 47, 8 Patryk Dudek 46, 9 Jason Doyle 40, 10 Chris Holder 38, 11 Matej Zagar 34, 12 Nicki Pedersen 31, 13 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 24, 14 Craig Cook 18, 15 Niels-Kristian Iversen 9, 16 Martin Vaculik 7, 17 Krzysztof Kasprzak 7, 18 Andreas Jonsson 7, 19 Vaclav Milik 6, 20 Michael Jepsen Jensen 4, 21 Maksym Drabik 2, 22 Bartosz Smektala 2, 23 Robert Lambert 1, 24 Mikkel Michelsen 1.
BETARD SCANDINAVIAN SGP LINE-UP (in ranking order with rider numbers): 69 Jason Doyle, 692 Patryk Dudek, 108 Tai Woffinden, 71 Maciej Janowski, 95 Bartosz Zmarzlik, 89 Emil Sayfutdinov, 55 Matej Zagar, 66 Fredrik Lindgren, 54 Martin Vaculik, 23 Chris Holder, 45 Greg Hancock, 110 Nicki Pedersen, 59 Przemyslaw Pawlicki, 222 Artem Laguta, 111 Craig Cook, 16 Peter Ljung, 17 Oliver Berntzon, 18 Joel Kling.