A healthy Eenrum crowd for Final 4 of the FIM Long Track World Championship was treated to some of the best racing of the season so far, as the top contenders fought for an advantage now that the series is moving towards its climax. Dmitri Bergé was the winner and still heads the championship but with a reduced lead of 3 points over Mathieu Trésarrieu and Martin Smolinski The order at the top has not changed and the destiny of the medals will be decided by these three when the last round takes place in September.
After winning only one race in the qualifying section Bergé did not look to be at his best but a good semi-final ride took him into the last race and the opportunity to preserve his lead. In the Final he produced a tremendous performance to beat Tresarrieu, passing him on the run in to the chequered flag. Behind them was another great battle between James Shanes and Martin Smolinski with the young Englishman inflicting on Smolinski his first defeat in 14 races.
The surprise fifth finalist was Britain’s Chris Harris who had suffered a miserable season until now. His win in Heat 1 produced the race of the season when, after struggling at the start, he gave his opponents a 20m lead as they entered the first bend. Storming around the outside of the 625m track he picked off his fellow riders one by one to steal an amazing win over Tresarrieu and Bergé. Three more wins in similar fashion cemented his qualification into the final although he was unable to add to his 20 point total.
Josef Franc collected 15 points to maintain his 4th position overall and along with Smolinski set the fastest time of the meeting. However, he now seems unlikely to figure in the medals, but will have another opportunity in 2019 having already qualified for next year’s competition.
Henry van der Steen missed his Wild Card call up as he had to withdraw from the meeting due to a broken collar bone being replaced by Dave Meijerink and, as expected Michael Härtel was unable to take his place as he is still recovering from the injuries he sustained at La Reole in June.
Full results HERE
The final round at Mühldorf on September 30th promises a great event with the top three going into battle to determine the champion for 2018. The outcome is impossible to predict and Long Track fans will relish the prospect of a titanic battle to complete what has been an epic series.
Graham Brodie, for FIM