As anticipated, the Russians were again dominant in the Qualifying Rounds for the FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship held last weekend.
In St.Johann, Austria they filled the first 3 places but the local riders Franz Zorn and Harald Simon took the remaining qualifying spots. A surprise elimination was that of ‘Posa’ Sernius the veteran from Sweden who never recovered from a first race disqualification and withdrew after gaining only one more point from his next two rides.
The Sanok round produced one of the big surprises of the competition when Gregorz Knapp secured a podium place by finishing 3rd behind defending champion Nikolai Krasnikov and Daniil Ivanov.
In Lukhovitsy, home riders filled the first 4 places with the unfancied Eduard Krysov winning the final from Makarov, Karachintsev and Kononov.
The final list of qualifiers is shown below and takes into account the fact that no one country is allowed more than 6 representatives at any meeting in the Final Series. This means that Russians Vitaly Khomitsevich and Igor Konokov are relegated to the qualified substitutes list and can race only as a replacement for an injured Russian colleague.
1. Nikolay KrasnikovRussia
2. Daniil Ivanov Russia
3. Dmitry Koltakov Russia
4. Dmitry Khomitsevich Russia
5. Eduard Krysov Russia
6. Sergey Karachintsev Russia
7. Franz Zorn Austria
8. Robert Henderson Sweden
9. Grzegorz Knapp Poland
10. Harald Simon Austria
11. Jan Klatovský Czech Republic
12. Antti Aakko Finland
13. Mats Järf Finland
14. Max Niedermaier Germany
15. René Stellingwerf The Netherlands (Permanent Wild Card nominated by FIM)
Qualified Substitutes are:
19. Vitaly Khomitsevich * Russia
20. Igor Kononov * Russia
21. Martin Leitner Austria
22. Stefan Svensson Sweden
23. Stephan Pleschacher Germany
24. Fredrik Olsson Sweden
25. Joakim Soderstrom Sweden
26. Fredrik Johansson Sweden
27. Josef Kreuzberger Austria
28. Janne Vilponen Finland
*for injured Russian riders only
The First event in the Final series will take place in Kranogorsk, Russia next weekend, 4th & 5th February. Details of the riders and the starting numbers draw will be published here shortly.