Swedish skipper Andreas Jonsson says his side’s teamwork was a triumph as they snatched their first Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup for 11 years at Vojens on Sunday afternoon.
The Swedish last lifted the Ove Fundin Trophy at British track Poole in 2004 and Denmark and Poland have dominated the competition ever since.
But AJ’s men 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 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 AJ 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. Poland came in with some injuries and it was tough. Denmark had a bit of bad luck. But it’s all about working as a team and collecting the points, which we did.”
Sweden enjoyed some huge fortune in their last two races, which saw Denmark’s Kenneth Bjerre break down at the start line in heat 19, before Danish skipper Niels-Kristian 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 AJ 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.
He said: “You can only think positive! Someone asked me ‘did you think about not touching the tapes?’ You can never have that in your mind. You just have to have the opportunities in your head – what you want to do and how you’re going to win the race. If you start thinking about stuff like that, you aren’t going to win anything.”
“I can’t say anything other than that Denmark had bad luck today. But when you’re the favourites like they were, that is a huge pressure and you have to cope with that too. It’s a difficult situation for them. I’m just really happy we could do it. We were up there all the time.”
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.”
Polish racer Przemyslaw Pawlicki was delighted to see his young team bag bronze after he finished second ahead of Australia’s former world champion Chris Holder in heat 20. But he admits losing skipper Jaroslaw Hampel to a broken leg in Event 1 at Gniezno, Poland last Saturday cost them dearly.
He said: “It was a perfect feeling to win bronze. We were a very young side and this is a really good day for the Polish team. We fought through every heat and it was not so easy. We didn’t have as much luck as Sweden, but we had good races. We did everything we could.
“Many people didn’t think we would go to Final, but we have a really good team. If we hadn’t had Jarek’s crash in Gniezno, I think it would have been a much different situation. But he’s out and it’s not so easy.”
“We’re in a good situation. We’ll hopefully race with a young team next year and fight for the gold medal.”
Aussie boss Mark Lemon was left to rue his side’s misfortune as they fell short of the rostrum.
He said: “It was a tough night and we didn’t get the rub of the green. There were a couple of decisions by the referee that lacked consistency. I believed these guys could push for the gold and they put in a gritty performance. It wasn’t to be, but our luck has to change. We had rotten luck. Sweden had all the luck in the world.
“Congratulations to Sweden and good on them. They got lucky in Poland last weekend and had some pretty lucky decisions on Sunday. Don’t get me wrong; they rode well and I think they’re worthy world champions. But we didn’t have that luck and we’ve been lacking it for a little while. It has to change.”
With an exciting Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup over, 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.