At just 25 years old Mikkel Michelsen from Denmark had a major breakthrough when he won the Speedway European Championship in 2019. Then 2020 came, and as we all know, nothing went as planned. And although he finished in 12th overall in the Ekstraliga with a heat average of 2.000, the Dane himself was not satisfied with his performance, “I could have done better,” he reflects.
“About half way through the season me and the mechanics weren’t happy with the results,” he explains, “we tried everything, but we just couldn’t make it better. You are up against the best 15 riders in the world at the SGP and then at the end of the season Lublin missed the playoffs by just one point…,” he trails off and in his silence you can feel the disappointment of man who loves to win.
But we don’t linger long in the past before we are talking ten-to-the-dozen about the first three rounds of this year’s Ekstraliga with MOTOR Lublin.
“I don’t know if anyone will beat Gorzow at home this year,” he says with typical honesty. Michelsen started his campaign by top scoring for his team with 10. But even with teammates Jaroslaw Hampel and Grigorji Laguta going well, it wasn’t enough to beat the home side. Stal are clearly on a mission to show no mercy as they try to revenge losing in the final last year. The final score was 58:32.
“Maybe it was stupid,” he confesses, “but for the second match I tried out a different engine, well you saw the result! But the most important thing for that match was the win for the team,” he says, taking a step back from his own personal performances.
He is referring to last Friday’s match against Częstochowa. The Dane’s team were at home and won 49:41, whilst Michelsen himself scored 8+1. But three of his teammates scored in double figures – Wiktor Lampart (11), Dominik Kubera (10+2) and Grigorji Laguta (10) so that together they secured the win.
“It is great now that all the paperwork is finished and we’ve got Kubera in the team. I remember him from my time in Leszno in 2013 when he was really young [just 14 yrs – ed.]. He would just get out on the track as much as he could!”.
Looking at his other teammates, he tells us, “I’m also pleased to be working again with Bucky [Krzysztof Buczkowski]. I think there’s a lot of pressure on him to perform but it’s natural that it is going to take time for him to move on from Grudziadz. But I’m sure he’s going to do fine here.”
We move on to last Sunday’s outstanding win at home against Wroclaw by 58:32, “Obviously, I’m really pleased with my result and the win for the team. They were missing Tai [Woffinden] and everyone knows that even on his bad days he’s going to get you points. But that’s speedway and a win is a win,” he says factually about the British rider’s absence. The 26 year old top scored for his team again, this time just one point off a paid maximum with 12+2.
The two wins out of three matches puts Lublin in second place on points difference from reigning champions, Leszno. Personally, he has gained a heat average of 2.063 putting him in 14th place and, surprisingly, both Kubera (3rd) and Hampel (8th) are ahead of him.
But he’s not worried, it is only early days after all, so we round off our time together by looking ahead.
“I think there’s only one team that really might struggle, but otherwise it is so even in the Ekstraliga anything could happen. After last year, as a club we want to get to the playoffs. And for me personally,”, he says, keeping it simple, “I just want to get back to the SGP, that’s my goal, so the GP Challenge and the SEC are priorities for me.”
Michelsen and Lublin are in action again tonight as they travel away to Zielona Gora with tapes up at 20:30 hrs.