Danish star Hans Andersen has been named as the final wild card for the 2012 FIM Speedway Grand Prix series.
Under next year’s rules in Poland, the 10 top-flight Ekstraliga clubs are limited to just one SGP rider per team.
Andersen was set to sign for Zielona Gora, who already have world No.2 Andreas Jonsson under contract.
But when he got the phone call from the FIM, offering him the SGP spot, Andersen admits the lure of getting back into the big time was too good to resist.
He said: “I had everything pretty much sorted. I was on my way to Poland to sign my deal and get that sorted. But when I had the call, it all changed drastically. It’s about ambitions rather than the money.
“In not riding in Poland, I’ve said ‘no’ to a huge income. But my desire to race in the World Championship is worth a lot more than money.”
Andersen lost his SGP spot after finishing 12th in the standings in 2010, but that season was badly disrupted by the broken fingers he suffered in a crash with arch-rival Nicki Pedersen at the Scandinavian SGP in Malilla on August 14, 2010.
He finished fifth in the World Championship in 2007 and repeated the feat in 2008, when he was eight points adrift of the bronze medal spot.
The Danish international was coy about his targets for next year, but he knows he is still capable of pushing for honours on the global stage.
He said: “I haven’t set myself a goal really. But the only thing I can tell you is that I’ve got a very good feeling in my stomach.
“I’ve got a voice in the back of my head, telling me that I’m going to show people what I can do.
“I want to climb up on the rostrum. I came close in 2008 and it’s definitely something that’s going to spur me on.”
Andersen was called up into the SGP series after Australian racer Darcy Ward turned down the offer of a permanent wild card.
He joins Peter Ljung in making a late entry into the competition after the Swede took Piotr Protasiewicz’s place last week.
The Pole declined the spot he earned by finishing third in the GP Challenge at Vetlanda on August 20. With first reserve Martin Vaculik and second stand-in Krzysztof Kasprzak rejecting the chance to replace Pepe, Ljung was called up after finishing sixth in the meeting.
While Ljung jumped at the opportunity, Andersen admits he still had to give the offer a little thought before committing to the SGP series.
A string of missed meetings and below-par scores inevitably affected Andersen’s income this year. His campaign was heavily disrupted by the broken leg he suffered in a freak training accident while jogging through the Danish forests in April.
Andersen was sidelined for two and a half months, and still felt the effects of the injury for much of the season after his return in June. But he wasn’t prepared to let his depleted bank balance ruin the chance of a fresh SGP start.
He said: “When I had the phone call, I would have said ‘yes’ straight away if I hadn’t had such a catastrophic season. I haven’t raced a lot this year, so my income has been very, very little.
“I had to sit down with my partner and quickly run through whether I could afford to ride in the series.
“I needed a couple of days to get my head around it, but the answer was straightforward. If I’d had a normal season, I would have answered ‘yes’ straight away when they phoned me.”
He added: “Now I’m going on holiday and I will come back a completely different person. I’ll have a clear mind and it won’t be the same rider entering the GP in 2012 that was in 2010.
“I don’t have any worries on my mind at the moment. The only thing I’m worried about doing now is tapping up some sponsors.”
BSI Speedway managing director Paul Bellamy was delighted to welcome Andersen back into the SGP elite.
He said: “Hans has been a great servant to the Grand Prix series and there is no doubt he has suffered more than his fair share of misfortune over the past two seasons.
“It clearly hasn’t affected his ambition, though, and he returned from his broken leg much earlier than he should have done to contest the SGP qualification rounds in June. He did remarkably well to reach the GP Challenge given the pain he was in.
“This, and his decision to turn down the offer in Poland, shows how committed he is to pushing for the World Championship and you wouldn’t bet against him doing just that in 2012.”