The 2018 FIM Long Track World Championship concludes on Sunday when the last event will take place in Germany and the closeness of the top three contenders promises some exciting racing. The 1000m sand track in Mühldorf will test man and machines to their limit and the distribution of the medals is so difficult to predict that it may not be decided until the last race of the day.
Frenchman Dimitri Bergé did not take part in the 2017 championship, preferring to concentrate on his speedway career but his return this year has been a great success. He has led the series since the first round and qualified for every final except for the Roden round. A win in Eenrum means that he carries a three-point lead into this meeting but he will need to hold his nerve to keep his lead.
Martin Smolinski is a seasoned campaigner and the former Grand Prix winner is another who has had a successful return to the Long Track championship this year. He has won two of the rounds, but his points return has been consistent apart from an unfortunate accident in La Reole which brought about an early end to his meeting. More recently however he has been defeated by Mathieu Tresarrieu at the 50th Anniversary meeting in Vechta and by Jörg Tebbe in the German Championship so will need to have recovered his best form if he is to take the gold medal here.
Tresarrieu is the current world champion and has recovered from a shaky start in the first round at Herxheim to remain in contention throughout the series. Although his gold medal last year was his first he has a record of long track success and will not give up his crown without a hard fight.
These are the three who will almost certainly be on the podium at the end of the event, but the excitement will be the battle to decide the order in which they will finish.
The Wild Card will be Lukas Fienhage with German Champion Jörg Tebbe and Danny Maassen as local reserves. Encouraged by home fans, any of these could upset the plans of the contenders. Swede Anders Mellgren replaces Jesse Mustonen with Hynek Stichauer again deputising for Romano Hummel who has still not recovered from his early season injury.
Of the remainder of the field the competition will be for a place in the 2019 series. The top seven from this year’s championship will automatically be seeded but as Josef Franc has already qualified through the Long Track Challenge, an additional place has become available to the 8th highest placed rider a position currently held by Britain’s Richard Hall. Germans Max Dilger and Bernd Diener follow closely and Michael Härtel returning from injury could also be in contention so there will be much interest in the fight for the lower places. James Shanes and Theo Pijper would appear to be safe, but Chris Harris will need to put his machinery problems behind him and continue to show the form he displayed in the last round.
1. Dimitri Bergé (France) 85
2. Mathieu Trésarrieu (France) 82
3. Martin Smolinski (Germany) 82
4. Josef Franc (Czech Republic) 67
5. James Shanes (Great Britain) 64
6. Theo Pijper (Netherlands) 48
7. Chris Harris (Great Britain) 44
8. Richard Hall (Great Britain) 41
9. Bernd Diener (Germany) 37
10. Max Dilger (Germany) 31
FIM Jury President will be Christian Bouin from France with Sweden’s Krister Gardell the Referee. Racing starts at 13.30 local time and as usual the racing will be screened live on the FIM YouTube Channel.
It is a meeting not to be missed.