The 2020 FIM Long Track World Champion will be crowned in Poland on Sunday as the second of this year’s restricted series is held on the 392m track in Rzeszow. Although Long Track has been held here in the past it is essentially a speedway track and will favour those riders who have speedway experience.
The race formula provides for 15 qualifying races followed by two semi finals and a Grand Final to determine the finishing order. Not only is the World Champion title to race for but the top seven placed in this year’s championship will be automatically seeded into the 2020 series so we can expect a battle for every point through the meeting.
After the first Final in Morizes last month the riders leading the field are:
1. Lukas Fienhage (Germany) 25
2. Mathieu Trésarrieu (France) 22
3. Romano Hummel (Netherland) 19
4. Theo Pijper (Netherland) 17
5. Zach Wajknecht (Great Britain) 15
6. Kenneth Kruse Hansen (Denmark) 12
None of the top riders can be ignored as candidates for gold but the 20 year-old Fienhage has been a revelation in only his second season at this level and beat European Champion Trésarrieu convincingly in the last race in Morizes. He is also scoring points for Wittstock in the Polish second league so will have some knowledge at this track. Trésarrieu is the only former champion in the field and still hopes to regain the title he won in 2017. He was a bronze medallist as long ago as 2007 and will not give up this opportunity without a fight.
Dutchman Hummel appears to have shaken off the injury problems of last year and is also in great form as he demonstrated in the Long Track Challenge in Roden last week where the exciting Dutchman was the fastest on show. The experienced Pijper too has a silver medal in 2010 to his credit so cannot be overlooked.
Others who will have sampled the Rzeszow track in league matches include Kenneth Kruse Hansen, Chris Harris, and Max Dilger. Hansen, mentored by Danish legend Erik Gundersen, has made a successful transit from speedway to long track and could still be a candidate for a medal in his debut season in this championship.
James Shanes and Zach Wajknecht carry the hopes of the British fans for places in next year’s title chase. Both are talented riders and former European Champions but have not enjoyed the best of luck this season and may need some good fortune to assist them into 2020.
Whatever the final destiny of the title may be, we are promised an entertaining evening of racing. Afternoon practice will allow riders and their teams some rest or time for technical adjustments before racing starts at 17.30 local time. Jury President Thierry Bouin will supervise proceedings on behalf of FIM with Pavel Kubes as Referee and Glen Phillips Race Coordinator.