Michael Jepsen Jensen: Nobody gets born as a world champion (interview)
Michael Jepsen Jensen has signed with ROW Rybnik in November. 'Liglad’ told twojportalzuzlowy.pl about his previous as well as next season.
Dominika Adamek (twojportalzuzlowy.pl): Michael, how would you evaluate season 2020?
Michael Jepsen Jensen: – Everything has been different. Having a Danish team, the workshop in Denmark, made everything quite a bit tougher. It was not just me who wanted to come back home and see the family. In a way, I think it would have been easier with the Polish team because they just could come back home and see friends, family and it would have been only me affected by this whole situation. The shops where we are getting most of our parts were unavailable. I had the things in Denmark in my shelves in the workshop but of course it was not possible to bring all these things with me to Poland. All the situation was not comfortable. The whole pandemic hit us all hard and unexpectidly. Even though the start of the season was postponed, it feels like we did not have enough time to prepare for all of this. Afterall, how can one prepare for something so new and so uncertain? In normal circumstances, I believe, that we are very professional and organised but on a few occassions in 2020 when something had broken, if a part had to be replaced, I had to get out of my comfort zone and ask people around for help with sorting the parts and things we needed, or simply asking people about shops I should go and get the parts from. I sometimes felt out of control in this matter, like a little kid, just having my hands tied on my back. I had to rely on others. Normally I could get home and resolve everything by myself but this year we were powerless. It is clear that my bikes didn’t have the speed like it was in the past.
Another thing with the pandemic was that the economy wasn’t as it was in the previous seasons. It is obvious that when we are struggling, the less money is coming in, which means that it has been very difficult to manage to sort out anything because even if the bikes are not running then there is a lot of extra costs, which we couldn’t afford. When things are just working, then everything looks positive but when it is not, then you need to work out the issues. And that is quite expensive as well.
– Did you have a chance to come back home during the season?
– I had a chance to come back to Denmark only before the play-offs as before them I needed to be tested across COVID-19. When we had spare time before the tests, it was possible to come back home.
– After the reflection time after the season, how do you see the future?
– We have found what the issue was through the last season. That way I see that the next year will be very positive. This season was horrible but I believe that we did resolve the reasons behind that. Using this knowledge I am preparing myself for the upcoming season. We know how the pandemic situation may possibly look, more or less, and we should not find ourselves suddenly standing in the middle of something completely unknown as it was last year when nobody could really predict what was going to happen. Right now there is still some uncertainty but it is nothing comparing to what we all faced when the COVID-19 first hit. For this year we must be ready or prepared for pretty much anything but it should be so much easier to be mentally ready for this than it was last year.
– Why did you decide to sign a contract in ROW Rybnik?
– It looked very professional there. Also, Marek personally called me to have a quick chat and it was very positive that way. We had contact for many years. Actually when I started in Falubaz in 2018 the plan was that Marek should have been there as well. With respect to some of the regulations that were implemented before 2021 season, I know that I need a higher number of starts, so the possibility of doing 2 leagues next to the first league in Poland looked very promising to me. I know that I am in the position where I was building up the things before the last season and everything for me looked very positive at the time. Right now I need to rebuild from what happened then and enter the upcoming season with clear head and solution we found to issues we experienced. I am still dreaming big and I believe that the decisions that I did will make me a better speedway rider.
– Did you consider riding for Rybnik because of good performances that you recently had on this track?
– To be fair I am not really thinking much on how the tracks are, I need to perform on all sorts. I have done good results in Rybnik but to be honest slick tracks are not of my taste. However, I think it will be also good for myself and my future to race for Rybnik and do some more laps on the slick track and to get to know it much better.
– Aren’t you afraid of Krzysztof Mrozek, the president of the club, that sometimes can be quite tough when it comes to relationships with speedway riders?
– I try not to make my decisions based on what people say, instead I follow my good instinct and my own mind. So far my contact with Krzysztof Mrozek has been positive. I have heard that the plans are that he won’t be as involved during the meetings as he was in the previous seasons, as this is Marek’s job. I am not worried about anything in this matter and to be honest, it’s not my headache anyways.
– In the past Marek Cieślak had a very good influence on the speedway riders with who he was cooperating with. Do you think you can also benefit from this?
– I believe that Marek will just bring something positive, also for me. He has a great past of coaching speedway riders and he is known for creating good relationship with his teams. I highly value respect, trust and good communication within the team and so far my experience with working with Marek has been nothing less than that. All these things make my head clear and focused on making points. I think that the most important from the coach perspective is to understand the riders, give them a chance especially if we have issues. It is not when everything is going well that we need most backing. We need it when we are struggling. Maybe this is also the reason why the things are going for me so well in Sweden. We need the trust for us to build from. This, together will all the preparations done before the upcoming season, make me 100% sure that the situation will turn around this year for the better.
– Do you believe that stepping down from Ekstraliga to the first league can make you feel stronger?
– I do not necessarily think that it’s stepping down from Ekstraliga will make any change on its own. However, with fresh air and trust this season can make me stronger on many levels. This has nothing to do with the change of the leagues but environment in general. I am confident, and proved it on many occassions, that I can perform on the highest level but fresh air has never hurt anybody and it feels like something that I needed. Also, racing in 3 leagues at the same time will benefit me in a long run as the high number of starts usually results in better performance in general.
– If you have a choice, would you select a contract in Ekstraliga or in the first league, considering all the limitations of riding outside of Poland?
– I will definitley want to be back in Ekstraliga in the near future, however, it is clear to me that after the past season I need as many starts and laps as possible. This is why the decision of leaving Ekstraliga seemed the smartest to me. In general, I think it should be up to the riders how busy we wanna be. Many riders are already chosing to step down and do only Poland and for example, GP. But it should be up to us. If I feel comfortable racing a bit extra, then I should have the possibility to do so.
– Few years ago we talked about the plans of stepping into Grand Prix and becoming the speedway champion. Is that still your plan?
– That is still what I am aiming for. It is not a secret that I have given myself a period of time to feel more ready and if I do not see anything turning into positives then I will reconsider my plans. At the moment the plan is still on. My team and I, we believe that we can achieve something great and without doubt, that’s the reasons why we work this hard. I wanna get back and be better than I have ever been and to me, it’s super important that my team is hungry, supportive and believe that our goals are possible to achieve too.
– What is the plan to come back to this Grand Prix series?
– First of all, the background needs to be stabilized, otherwise it will be hard to achieve anything in GP. Last time I entered GP after a very tough season because of financial issues. That season I have started with the new team as well and for the future I should be more stabilized about that. Right now I have very good mechanics in my team, I have people around me that I trust. Nobody gets born as a world champion so we all have to work very hard to become one. Me and my team are working hard to pursue our professional dreams in this regard. We are doing absolutely best that we can to get there. With that in my mind I believe we can achieve this. The choice of my clubs this year is also not random, it is all to build the things up to get back and persue the dreams and try to make it real.
– Whenever you performed in the national team, that were always good results. Currently, we only have Speedway of Nations and it would be hard to perform there as other Danish mates are pretty strong. Do you think that Speedway World Cup should come back?
– That would be great. Maybe it should be the way that every second year there will be either the Speedway of Nations or Speedway World Cup. Then it will mean more extra as it is with football tournaments. So we would do Speedway World Cup every year and Speedway of Nations every second year. It is a shame not to have both for sure.
– How are you preparing for the next season? Do you work on the physical side of things or also concentrating on the mental path?
– Everything is connected. If I feel good and in shape, the mental health is better as well. After this season there have been some rebuilds. The motivation has been very hard in the tough time we have been through with a lot of unknown circumstanses and situations. Nobody still knows what is going on and when the pandemic will be over, but for this season all of us have to be ready and prepared for the unknown. When we were locked in Poland, there were a lot of stress and tough times which where very hard to me, but that is something I’ve learned and have been building from. The things in the workshop are slowly getting ready. I run and I am on the bike a lot. I have been doing much more activities outside this winter because of the lockdowns / the pandemic. My physical form feels very great and I am very hungry and motivated for what is coming!
– What is your aim for 2021?
– As everything looks at the moment, I am not really putting up a main aim because it depends on what will happen in this whole situation. One of the things I have learnt in the past season is, that when the goals I have set slipped away, my motivation dropped a lot, and with the situation at the moment I don’t want to be in the same situation again. Next to that, my goals are for myself and my team. Some day I definitely would like to come back to the GP’s but I want myself and my team to be fully ready and prepared for it. I believe that if I feel comfortable and I get back to the GP then I can do great. My dream is not to be in GP just for the experience. I want the feeling that fighting for the championship can actually happen, and when I have that, then I see the point in trying.