Long Track attention turns this weekend to team racing and the final of the FIM Team Long Track World Championship in Finland. The 1000 metre trotting track in Forssa will host the meeting with the six top nations competing the event over 15 heats.
Teams declared for the meeting are:
|FINLAND||1||Kauko Nieminen (capt)|
|THE NETHERLANDS||4||Jannick de jong (capt)|
|20||Henry van der Steen|
|FRANCE||7||Stephane Tresarrieu (capt)|
|9||Théo Di Palma|
|GREAT BRITAIN||10||Andrew Appleton|
|12||Glen Phillips (capt)|
|GERMANY||13||Enrico Janoschka (capt)|
|CZECH REPUBLIC||16||Josef Franc (capt)|
Favourites are defending champions The Netherlands who took the title in a thrilling battle on the grass in Swingfield last year and they field the same team again but bring in Henry van der Steen at reserve. Jannick de Jong, currently at the top of the individual Long Track standings, leads the side which also includes Theo Pijper who scored a maximum 30 points in last year’s final.
France’s hopes were dented last week by another injury to Dmitri Berge star of their silver medal performance of 2013. Having spent much of this season on the sidelines recovering from internal injuries, the result of a speedway accident, he is now nursing a broken arm sustained whilst practising at Miramont and has had to withdraw. The French team have elected to race without a reserve rider.
The British and German teams are looking equally strong and both teams have named quality riders as their reserves. David Howe and Stephan Katt are in splendid form at present and will provide solid back up if used. For the Brits, Richard Hall has also returned to winning ways and Team Manager Mitch Godden is optimistic that his squad will lift the Don Godden trophy named after his late father and Long Track legend. With rising star Erik Riss in the side the German team will feel confident of a medal place; six times winners of this championship the Germans are still smarting after last year’s first ever defeat and will be hoping that young Riss, currently lying second in the individual championship, will prove the difference between defeat and victory. They also include 37 year old Jorg Tebbe, second to de Jong in the recent Long Track Challenge in Marianske Lazne.
The Czech Republic also track a three man team so will need good performances from both ‘Pepe’ Franc and Richard Wolff if they are to secure a podium place for the first time and hosts Finland will be hard pressed to make up for the loss of Aki-Pekka Mustonen, another top scorer sidelined through injury. However, their line up includes new Finnish Long Track Champion Jesse Mustonen and runner up Kauko Nieminen.
Forssa lies approximately midway between Tampere and Helsinki and racing at the Pilvenmäki trotting track commences at 17.30 on Saturday evening 23rd August. Jury President for the meeting is Tony Steele from Great Britain and the Referee, Poland’s Marek Wojaczek