We return from the Speedway World Cup break, do you think the result could potentially boost certain riders form? For example, Nicki Pedersen found his form and spurred the Danes on to fantastic victory.
To be honest, I don’t think so. The World Cup and the Grand Prix are two completely separate things, you see riders in the World Cup desperate not to let their country and their partners down whereas in the Grand Prix it’s every man for himself, it’s a completely different format of speedway. Obviously the Danish boys will be confident after winning the world cup, but you’ve got to remember that Niels (Kristian-Iversen) and Nicki are no longer colleagues, they are now rivals and I expect them to both be worrying about their own thing and not thinking about the World Cup anymore.
Chris Holder returned to action during the WC, do you think he is too far off the pace to challenge for a podium position? Or is there still enough time for him to mount an attack?
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I feel so sad for Chris, he has a wretched run of injuries, and he had a bad accident on Tuesday in Sweden. Personally I think Chris’s target now will be to get through the last rounds safely, score well and finish the season on a high. He will not be challenging for a podium now, there are only five rounds left but I am sure he will come back stronger next year. I think he has to be given the wild card for next year if he does miss the top-eight because he’s missed a couple of rounds this year with injury yet again. It’s only been two years since he was world champion, so I think if he does miss out, he would have to be granted a wild card pick. However, if he is fit and gets through the next five rounds unscathed I expect him to finish in the top-eight anyway.
Battle for the last two automatic qualification spots is heating up, with just six points separating seventh – 11th. Who out of those five riders stands the best chance of gaining an automatic qualification spot?
As mentioned, I think if Holder stays fit, he will claim one of those spots, but I think Krzysztof Kasprzak is the one to watch as his bike is set-up perfectly and his is supremely fast rider. The pressure is on for Freddie Lindgren though, he’s a great guy, I like Freddie a lot, but I worry that if he misses the top-eight this year that could be the end of his GP career for the time being. He’s relied on wildcard picks for the majority of his career, he’s only qualified by merit once so the pressure is on Freddie, these are a big five rounds for him. My gut feeling is that Kasprzak will be in there, Holder will be in there subject to him being fit. Jarek Hampel is also a contender; he is a terrific rider but what frustrated me about him, is that he can look like world champion one heat then have an ordinary ride the next. He definitely has what it takes to win GP’s but he does lack that consistency which has proved to be his downfall this season.
Ahead of the World Cup Tai Woffinden had a break from racing, missing out meetings in the UK, Poland and Sweden. Do you think the physical and mental demands for a speedway rider can be difficult to cope with?
I think they can be underestimated. I know from personal experience, I’m a little bit older than Tai but the schedule I have as a commentator, which is nowhere near as busy as his, tires me out! Being at a Grand Prix, then the world cup along with my other commitments, it really does get to you. They are trying to meet deadlines all the time, getting to the airport at this time, making sure the transports in place, making sure you’ve got a hotel booked. The physical and mental demands of being a top-line world class speedway rider are sometimes underestimated.
The Grand Prix visits the Latvian capital for the first time ever, is this a sign of the countries emergence as a Speedway nation?
The Latvians disappointed me at the World Cup, I thought they could’ve and should’ve done better than they did. However, last year they really did emerge. The2013 Latvian GP in Daugavpils saw Andžejs Ļebedevs put in a magnificent performance and he was unlucky to miss out on a semi-final position. I thought he rode beautifully; I am looking forward to seeing him again this week in Riga. They are an emerging nation; they will be disappointed with their world cup performance this year and will be looking to improve here in Riga and prove a point.
This is a circuit the riders won’t have seen much of in the past, do you think that will play a part in the result this weekend? Will riders be a bit more cautious going round this track?
It could affect the result and Troy Batchelor has already come out and said how important practice will be here and I agree with him totally. The practice session could be the key to the result of this weekend’s GP.  However, it’s not the first time we’ve ever been to a track that has never been used before, so I think the top riders will just get on with it and do what they do best
Nigel Pearson’s picks for the final

1. Darcy Ward
2. Greg Hancock
3. Niels Kristian Iversen
4. Tai Woffinden
British Eurosport will broadcast exclusive LIVE coverage from every round of the Speedway Grand Prix in high definition including the Latvian FIM Speedway Grand Prix from Riga. Coverage starts Saturday at 4.45pm on British Eurosport 2 HD or via the Eurosport Player. www.eurosportplayer.co.uk
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