Stefan Neilsen is adamant he has nothing to lose after he secured his place in the FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship finals.
The 20-year-old, who is based in Bury St Edmunds, stands a shot of challenging for the title after sealing his place as the only British rider for the three-part final series starting in July, with a spectacular showing in Terenzano, Italy on Saturday.
Against the brightest talent across Europe, the former Mildenhall Fen Tigers star, who now rides for Premier League side Ipswich Witches and Belle Vue in the Elite League, secured nine points over the five races, including an outright victory in race two to finish in fifth spot overall and seal his progression.
“The meeting went really well and I’m delighted to get through to the finals,” he said.
“I managed to win the second race and had five points after three races so things were looking good.
“However, I thought I was heading out after four races but I could see my mechanics whispering between each other and smiling before the final race and so I thought I might still have a chance.
“I went out and just rode without any real pressure and managed to win the race .
“I was told afterwards that I had done enough to qualify for the finals and it was just brilliant.
“It was a spectacular finish to the meeting after thinking I wouldn’t qualify.”
He will now face up against 13 other riders in Lonigo, Italy (July 11), Lublin, Poland (August 15) and Pardubice, Czech Republic (September 3) with the rider accumulating the most points taking the championship.
And despite not be considered as one of the favourites, Neilsen believes it may work in his favour as he looks forward to his first outing in the finals.
“I’m feeling really good for the finals,” he added.
“I’m not considered one of the favourites to win it but that means there is no pressure on me. I have nothing to lose.
“Others are expected to win and so the pressure is completely on them.
“I’ll do what I can but I’m not setting myself any targets.
“This is a new experience for me and a huge step up, I’m just looking forward to it.”
n Mildenhall Fen Tigers will be going in search of a first away win of the National League season when they travel to Stoke Potters on Sunday (4.30pm). Mildenhall were denied the chance to bounce back from a 47-43 defeat to Buxton Hitmen as their meeting with Coventry Bees on Friday was postponed.