With the Individual World Championship safely completed, Team Long Track competition takes centre stage as the Final is held next weekend. This is the eleventh year that this title has been raced and the venue will be the 600 metre Roden track in northern Holland. There are seven teams competing in what is possibly the most open of the recent Finals with teams evenly balanced and predictions difficult to make. Teams consist of three riders plus a reserve and the meeting is raced over 21 heats with each rider making six starts.
Germany with seven gold medals have the greatest number of wins in this competition and field a strong team. Captained by individual championship runner up Michael Härtel and including the experienced Stephan Katt and Speedway Grand Prix rider Martin Smolinski they will be a difficult trio to beat.
The French have never won a medal in this discipline but have possibly their best opportunity this year with the Trésarrieu brothers Stephane and individual champion Mathieu leading the team. Dmitri Bergé, having enjoyed a win in the big floodlit meeting in Vechta last week will support and in reserve they have 18 year old Gaétan Stella the 250cc Long Track World Cup winner.
The Netherlands, holders of the title after a thrilling win in Marianske Lazne last year have been weakened by the absence of the suspended Jannick de Jong and will be led by Theo Pijper. Dirk Fabriek, making his final appearance before his recently announced retirement would enjoy adding another gold medal to his collection and young Romano Hummel, thankfully recovered from a spectacular crash in Vechta, should add some exciting action to please his local fans.
Long Track is enjoying increased interest in Sweden who enter a team for the first time. Whilst all their riders have a speedway background they lack experience on the grass and sand circuits and are not expected to be in a medal position on their debut.
With a mixture of experience and youth, the Great Britain squad will be hoping to match their 2015 success when they stole the trophy from the German team on their home circuit at Muhldorf. In European Champion James Shanes they have a potential match winner but much will depend on the ability of Richard Hall and Andrew Appleton to produce their best form in support. Standing by in the pits will be reserve Edward Kennett who has been performing with some success at international level this year. Mitch Godden is the Team Manager and nothing would give him greater pleasure than to lift the Don Godden Trophy named after his father and presented to the winning team.
Both Finland and Czech Republic have each won only one bronze medal each and both will look to add to that. The Czech Republic with world number three Josef Franc again leading the side look the more likely to repeat last year’s third place.
Britain’s Mick Bates, himself a former rider, will be FIM Jury President and Piotr Lys of Poland the Referee. After morning practice, racing on Sunday starts at 13.30 with a full programme of support races.