Although last year’s championship seems only just over, plans are already in place for the 2020 FIM Long Track World Championship with riders and venues confirmed this week by the FIM Track Racing Commission and another exciting series in prospect.
With five Finals, starting on 21st May with the traditional Father’s Day meeting in Herxheim, the competition will move at monthly intervals to La Réole, Mühldorf, Forssa and finally Rzeszow on 26th September. La Réole in France and German track Mühldorf have regularly featured in the Long Track calendar and Forssa is Finland’s best-known track. A second visit to Rzeszow in southern Poland for the final round demonstrates that country’s growing interest in Long Track racing.
The competitors also reflect the international nature of the series with eight nations represented. The top seven riders from the 2019 championship are joined by the four qualifiers from the Long Track Challenge and three permanent Wild Cards selected by the FIM. There are three World Champions in the field; current holder Dimitri Bergé and seasoned racer Mathieu Trésarrieu from France along with Germany’s Martin Smolinski and all will be hoping to add to their haul of medals. Rising young German star Lukas Fienhage is joined by the experienced Josef Franc from Czech Republic and veteran Dutchman Theo Pijper with former Speedway Grand Prix rider Chris Harris completing the qualifiers from last year’s title chase.
The Long Track Challenge produced two more German qualifiers in Stephan Katt and Bernd Diener along with Jesse Mustonen from Finland and Britain’s Richard Hall all with previous experience in this championship. The permanent Wild Cards are James Shanes from Great Britain, who suffered a season ending injury which prevented him from completing the championship last year, Sweden’s Thomas Jonasson and the promising Dane Kenneth Kruse Hansen. The inclusion of the two Scandinavians is another measure of the developing interest in Long Track in that region. Hansen in particular is highly rated and his progress will be monitored by his Danish Team boss Erik Gundersen, himself a two times winner of this competition.
Each Final will include a further Wild Card nominated by the local federation and there are six Substitute Riders ready to take the place of any rider who might be forced to withdraw at any time. They are Gaétan Stella from France, current European Champion Zach Wajtknecht from Great Britain, Germany’s Max Dilger, Martin Malek from Czech Republic and two from The Netherlands, Jarno de Vries and the unlucky Romano Hummel who has seen his title chances spoiled by injury in both of the last two years. With youth firmly represented and a wider interest from new countries, the future of Long Track seems secure.
Further details of all meetings can be found on this website on FIM Twitter and Instagram account and on FIM Track Racing Facebook Page.