By Henry Chard
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches are delighted to welcome Nicolai Klindt to the club after he was announced as the third signing for 2020.
Klindt joins Jake Allen and Cameron Heeps in the line-up after making the switch from Poole with the Dorset club dropping down to the Championship this winter. The Danish rider was not short of options for the new year and explained why he chose Ipswich.
“I had a fair bit of interest from most clubs in the league due to having a good season with Poole and suddenly becoming available,” said Klindt. “It boils down to a number of things. I have never really liked the track, but I always seem to do well there, so that was one of the things.
“Another thing is that it is pretty close to airports. This year I was travelling to Heathrow, Stansted or Luton almost every week after Poole meetings, whereas Stansted is only an hour away from Ipswich, so that was a big plus.
“Also, on the whole I always have an eye on other clubs and how they do things and Ipswich impressed me over the last year whilst they were in the league I was riding in. Their social media, press and outlook of the club is very professional and is something I would love to be involved with. I am pretty sure that choosing Ipswich will be the right thing to further my career.”
The 30-year-old arrives on a 7.43 average and says he would enjoy the responsibility of being at number one if he gets there this season.
“I believe I am good enough to be a number one. Myself, Brady Kurtz, Jack Holder and Josh Grajczonek were all very close in the averages last season and there were a couple of times where I should have been number one, but the averages changed a day late or a day too soon and it never happened, and I stayed at number three.
“That role comes with added pressure because you have certain responsibilities, heat one and then the big heats 13 and 15. I am at an age now and have experience riding at the level I am riding at so it wouldn’t bother me, I would enjoy it rather than be nervous about it. If it happens, I am looking forward to it.”
The Danish international confessed that he has never particularly liked the Foxhall track despite scoring well on his visits there and is hoping to score heavily in Suffolk on a consistent basis in 2020.
“It is weird because I have always thought it was an alright track, but I have never really liked it but somehow I have always scored a lot of points there. This year I went there three times and barring mechanical failure I would have scored between 12-14 each time in those meetings, so I must have been doing something right!
“It is one of those I have got to look at, going to a track where I feel I can improve and I feel I have the greatest advantage to score double figures in every home meeting because if you can score double figures every home meeting on a consistent basis, you can take that consistency and self-belief to away meetings and when I ride abroad. I am sure I am going to enjoy it and it will be very exciting.”
Klindt has won top-flight titles with both Wolverhampton and Poole in his British career and he highlighted what is the key to a successful side.
“Two things, one of them is strength in depth, which is one of the reasons Ipswich did so well last year and also team spirit. The last three years I rode for Poole, and when I started riding here it was for Wolverhampton where we won the league. Both teams had great team spirit, Poole’s team spirit is second to none, I really enjoyed it there. That is one thing I have got to get used to at Ipswich because I am new and have never rode for the club before.
“I know the riders there which is a bonus and from what I gather from the outside and from speaking to both Chris (Louis) and Ritchie (Hawkins) is that there is a really good team spirit. That is a very important factor when going to a new team because you don’t want to go to a team where it is dull, and people don’t speak. With the riders they have signed up already, it is a good squad I would say.”
The new signing is ultra-professional in his approach on and off the track and said that it has been key to his improved form in recent years.
“I think the more professional you look then the more people watch you. It can be potential sponsors, potential new clubs, fans but also other riders have a slight look and it makes them think. I spend a lot of time with sponsors and the more professional you look on the outside the more interest, the more they would appreciate working with you.
“Whether it is a small company or a big company they would want to look professional themselves so they will only want to associate their brand with another professional brand, so that is why I put a lot of effort into that. Also, when I am racing it is important that my mechanic behaves in a professional manner and I behave in a professional manner.
“Behind the scenes with my training, my sleep pattern, my eating, I have been working a lot more on it over the last three years after my injury in 2017. You can see that I have progressed slightly each year and that is because I have focused more on the professionalism.”
Klindt began the 2016 season with Leicester on a 3.53 average and revealed how a change in mindset helped him set new goals in his career as he now finds himself as an established heat leader in the division.
“I was struggling for a club that year despite having a low average due to coming back from injury the season before and the season before I didn’t ride in the Premiership, I only rode in the Championship. They converted my average and it was really low, but I ended up having a good season.
“I signed for Poole in 2017 and got injured and started all over again but the main reason I have been able to progress over the last few seasons is simply a change of mind. I think I have said this before but I had to sit down with myself and decide if I want to take it to a level that I know I am capable of and achieve the goals that I have always had in mind or whether I wanted to stick around and be an average league rider.
“I decided I wanted to pursue my dreams and alter things I was doing and working a lot more on myself mentally and physically and that has helped a lot. I started working with an engine tuner called Peter Johns at the start of 2018 and that has helped me as well because his way of setting up the engines suits my riding style better. Prior to that I was using something else, so it is loads of different things.
“I have a lot of good people around me in the team who you don’t see at the track. They have taken a lot of pressure off my shoulders and allowed me to focus more on my racing, training and day to day things.”
The Witches lost in the 2019 Premiership Play-Off final, beating Klindt’s Poole side in the semi-final but the new Witch sees no reason why the Suffolk side cannot go one better and win the title in 2020.
“I believe the team is capable of making the Play-Offs, no problem. I know they came into last season as underdogs and I also said they wouldn’t achieve much myself when I looked at the team! However, at the end of the day it is seven names on a piece of paper. There will always be riders who improve and some who have a bad season.
“I think the team Chris and Ritchie are putting together is very competitive. Everyone is going on about Sheffield being favourites, but I have said this to a few people, if you look at the Poole team I was in this year and compare it to the Sheffield team for next year, any day of the week the Poole team would beat them.
“My goal with Ipswich is to qualify for the Play-Offs but I feel we have a team capable of winning the league if everyone is firing on all cylinders. Personally, if I start at number one, my goal is to stay there. If I don’t start at number one, then my main goal is to go to number one. That was a goal last year that I did not achieve, so that is top of the list for England.
“Other than that, I just want to keep improving and keep my level of consistency a point or two higher than it was this year. My main focus abroad is to qualify for the European Championship which I missed out on last year due to a crash I had in the qualification round. I also have a sniff at the Grand Prix qualifiers but there is a long way to go and you have to stay injury free.”
2020 Season Tickets are now available to purchase, all the details can be found here. Supporters wishing to buy their ticket in person can do so on Saturday 21st December between 10am-1pm at Foxhall Stadium with hot drinks and mince pies on offer.