Monday, January 30, 2017

“Gentlemen, Start your engines”

© Good Shoot

The start of a new World Championship series in any discipline releases a mixture of emotions from anticipation and excitement to hopes and disappointments. Ice speedway is no exception and as the 2017 Astana Expo FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship kicks off in Russia next weekend riders, fans and officials will be looking forward to another season of thrilling racing. For the only time in the season, all riders are on level points and, in theory at least, all have an equal chance of glory. 

There have already had to be revisions to the list of qualified and nominated riders following the first disappointment of the year as Stefan Pletschacher has had to withdraw due to injuries sustained in an international meeting in Steingaden last week. The popular German has had surgery to his injured shoulder and is recovering but his season is over.
A revised list along with updated Personal Numbers can be found
on this link.

No rider wishes to profit from injury to a fellow competitor but on the opposite side of the wheel of fortune is Austria’s Harald Simon who is now promoted into the series after narrowly failing to qualify in Finland. Riding with an injured hand he had missed the last qualifying place in a race off and was expecting a season without world championship action but his pre-season preparation is now rewarded with a permanent place in the series

Togliatti is the venue for Final 1 to be held as usual over two days on 4th and 5th February. The Anatoly Stepanov Stadium is arguably the best-equipped facility of those of this year’s locations; purpose-built for track racing, it will also host the FIM Speedway Grand Prix Challenge later in the year.

The sixteen riders taking part and the draw for the first two days, made by FIM, can be found

The Russian riders will as usual be expected to dominate the competition with former champions Daniil Ivanov and Dmitry Koltakov along with current title holder Dmitry Khomitsevich all anxious to add to their medal collection. Igor Kononov and 21 year old Dinar Valeev complete the list but are joined for this meeting by Wild Card Nikita Toloknov, another promising young rider who races for the local Mega Lada team. This is his first meeting at the top level and if he is not overawed by the occasion could put his home track knowledge to good use.

Franky Zorn is racing as well as at any time in his career and has proved an equal to the Russians so far this year. He has trained hard and built new machines in readiness and could find that this season provides him with the best opportunity to collect the gold medal that he aims for.

The revival of Swedish ice speedway continues and is led by a trio of young hopefuls in the form of Jimmy Olsen Ove Ledström and Niclas Svensson. Ledstrom is coached by ice legend Posa Serenius and has been racing in the Russian League this year. Svensson is the son of Stefan Svensson who has also qualified for the series.

Of the remaining riders, Germany’s Günther Bauer who rides for Ufa in the Russian league is the most experienced and is enjoying a good season so far. Jan Klatovsky is the sole Czech representative having won his national title earlier this month and is certain to cause an upset or two during the championships.

Racing in Togliatti will start at 16.00 (local time) on Saturday and at 14.00 on Sunday afternoon. Jury Presdident will be Jan Staechmann from Denmark with Finland’s Mikka Laukkanen the Referee.

Mrs Isabelle Larivière | Communications Manager |