Germany’s Erik Riss claimed the FIM Long Track World Championship in a thrilling finale in Muhldorf, Germany on Sunday in front of 4500 excited fans in the Bavarian sunshine. In his first attempt at this competition, Erik, son of eight times World Champion Gerd Riss became, at 19 years of age the youngest ever winner in its history. Runner up was Dutchman Jannick De Jong who had headed the field for much of the season. Reigning champion Joonas Kylmäkorpi was third having rediscovered some of the form which had been missing since the first round.
In an afternoon of drama, the destination of the title was not decided until the final race of the last round. Riss had started the meeting trailing in third spot in the overall standings and lagging 5 points behind the series leader Jannik De Jong. He was favoured by many to mount a successful challenge for the leadership but a poor start in his first race left him having to battle his way from fifth to second place behind De Jong and left questions over his ability to withstand the pressures of racing at this level in his own country where his father is still a legend amongst those who follow track racing. However, showing a maturity beyond his young years won his next five races beating his rival four times on his way to the Final.
Needing a clear win over De Jong in his last race there was still more drama as Riss, anticipating the start was close to a disqualification but was allowed to take his place in the restart. At the second attempt he made a faultless start and although he was overtaken by Kylmäkorpi he held on for a second place whilst a demoralised De Jong was last and the title was secured.
For the Dutchman it was a disappointing end to what had been his most successful year in the sport but his second place will provide him with some consolation and the incentive to challenge again next year.
With Kylmäkorpi who was the meeting winner, there was the realisation that his reign as world champion was over. The four times winner experienced some cruel misfortunes during the year but will surely return with renewed enthusiasm for another chance to take the title next year.
Busiest man at Muhldorf was Martin Smolinski who had rushed from Stockholm overnight from the Scandinavian Speedway Grand Prix. Smolinski has not been a regular in the current series due to his speedway commitments but showed that he still has a talent for the ‘sandbahn’ discipline by taking third place at this meeting and clearly enjoying his afternoon’s racing.
Britain’s Richard Hall was unable to capitalise on his great win in Morizes earlier this month but his 17 points won him a fourth place only one point behind Kylamkorpi.
Final Championship positions are:
|2||2||Jannick de Jong||Netherlands||72|
|4||3||Richard Hall||Great Britain||65|
With the possibility of some younger competitors joining the event, including perhaps Mark Riss brother of Erik, 2015 promises to be a vintage season.