When the third round of the 2012 championship begins in Assen, Holland on Friday one man will be hoping to take another step towards achieving his target for the season – to be the best amateur.
Austrian Harald Simon is enjoying a vintage season and last weekend he took the silver medal in the UEM European Championship in Assen, his best result to date in this competition. Now on the same track he is looking to consolidate his current position as the best non-Russian in the World Championships. With hundreds of licensed riders to choose from, the top Russians may be virtually invincible at this sport at present but ‘Harry’ leads the challenge of the others.
At 44 years of age he is not the youngest of the contenders but certainly not one of the oldest either. He had been a keen ski jöror until he discovered ice racing in the late 1980s and made steady progress, winning his first FIM medal, a bronze, as a member of the Austrian team in the 1999 Team Championship. (Skijöring involves being pulled on skis by dogs, horses or even vehicles and sounds almost as crazy as ice racing).
He has won a further seven further team medals but success at individual level has proved elusive and his best World Championship result was 9th position in 2008. This year he aims to be the best of the amateurs and his 7th position in the current standings sees him closer to fulfilling this ambition.
Spending time in Russia training and racing has obviously helped his progress and his coach at the Kamienski Uralsk club in the Russian Super League is the legendary Anatoli Bondarenko. Familiarity with the natural ice tracks which he prefers will have been a benefit during the earlier rounds and he will now need to adapt his skills to the artificial ice of the western European tracks where the remaining races will be held. If his latest performance at Assen is a guide, then the Russians might be facing some stiff opposition.
Racing at Assen is on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th March commencing at 19.00 local time. FIM Jury President is Istvan Daragoi from Hungary and the Referee, Sweden’s vastly experienced Krister Gardell.
See the FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship live results for both days online on the FIM homepage FIM-LIVE.COM