Thursday, March 9, 2017

NATIONAL PRIDE AT STAKE!

The race for individual honours will be put to one side next weekend as the Gladiators meet up in the picturesque town of Inzell in the Bavarian Alps and one of Ice Speedway’s iconic locations. This time the battle will be for team glory as seven nations riding in pairs compete against each other over 42 heats in pursuit of the Team World Championship. 



Teams consist of two riders plus one reserve who may be called on to race at any time. Winners last year in Togliatti, Russia will once again be the firm favourite to win and retain the title they have lost only four times in the 38 year history of the championship. They name their strongest squad with the three leaders of the individual title ready to take on the best that the rest of the world can find. 
Winners last year in Togliatti, Russia will once again be the firm favourite to win and retain the title they have lost only four times in the 38 year history of the championship. They name their strongest squad with the three leaders of the individual title ready to take on the best that the rest of the world can find. 
Sweden is seen to be the strongest of their rivals although the team has suffered losses through injury this year and neither Jimmy Olsen nor Robert Henderson were available for selection. Swedish Manager Mikael Messing plans to balance the youthful enthusiasm of Niclas Svensson and Ove Ledström with the experienced of Niclas’ father Stefan in the reserve position. It was Ledström’s last-race win over Franz Zorn in Togliatti that secured the silver medal for the Swedes last year and a repeat performance would be satisfying for Messing and the boys in blue and yellow.
It has to be said however that Zorn is in great form this season and his battles with the Russians have produced qualification to three Finals to date. For the Austrian team much will be depend on him bringing this form to Inzell where he will be supported by Charly Ebner Jr. Harald Simon who has not enjoyed the best of fortune this year with injuries has been forced to withdraw and his place will be taken by Josef Kreuzberger.
In selecting Johan Weber and Max Niedermaier the new national champion, the German team provides an unusual coincidence in that their fathers Max senior and Helmut Weber were in the 1983 World Team winning squad in Berlin, the only occasion that Germany has taken the gold medal so far. It seems unlikely that this success will be repeated this year but with the home fans support some surprises may be expected.
There are limited opportunities for Ice Speedway in Switzerland and national champion Ronny Häring leads a largely unknown Swiss team, which will not be helped by their lack of race practice. Similarly the Finland team includes the experienced Antti Aakko and Finnish champion Mats Järf neither of whom has raced more than a couple of meetings in 2017.
Once again the Czech Republic team will rely heavily on Jan Klatovsky whose results in the individual World Championship this year have been disappointing. He will bring his own brand of patriotic fervour to Inzell where he will be supported by Lukas Hutla one of two brothers from the Pardubice club and the top Czech scorer in the recent European Final in Ufa. 
The action will start at 17.00 on Saturday evening with the traditional Sunday afternoon start at 14.00. FIM Jury President is Tony Olsson from Sweden with Referee Craig Ackroyd from Great Britain.
Graham Brodie