The destiny of the 2012 FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship will be decided this weekend in Uppsala, Sweden and although it might be certain that the title will be travelling back to Russia, which of their riders will be carrying it remains in doubt.
Seven times champion, Nicolay Krasnikov currently leads the series by a slender 4 points from his closest rival Dmitri Ivanov who is desperate to collect his first winner’s trophy in this toughest of racing disciplines. At Assen when these two met it was Ivanov who incurred the displeasure of the referee after driving hard under his rival on the last bend and forcing him into the straw barrier.
Krasnikov’s machine passed the finish line but the rider was left sitting on the ice and Ivanov earned a disqualification and the loss of three valuable points.
Dmitri Khomitsevitch is a further 9 points behind but is still not out of contention and will be equally keen to plunder points at Krasnikov’ expense. He is a team mate of Ivanov at Togliati but team loyalties are forgotten when World Championships are at stake and every race is likely to be keenly contested.
All three come together in an awesome Heat 20 line up on the first day in a race which could provide the highlight of the meeting and strongly influence the destination of the title. On Day 2, an all-Russian Heat 16 brings the two leaders together again alongside Eduard Krysov and Dmitri Kolkatov in another potentially explosive race. Krasnikov, fresh from winning the prestige Ice Challenge in Berlin last week will be the favourite but there could be some surprises still in this competition.
There is still competition too for the remaining places with Austrians Harald Simon and Franz Zorn in contention for the unofficial ‘best of the rest ’title along with Finland’s Antti Aakko.
Dutchman Rene Stellingwerf sustained a leg injury during practice in Berlin but was allowed home after hospital treatment. He is hoping to be fit to take his place in the meeting.
So Ice Race fans are assured of a great weekend of top competition. Although Spring has arrived in Northern Sweden temperatures are expected to be at around 5 degrees and there are no concerns over the quality of the ice at this artificial track. Local officials and staff will be working hard to ensure perfect racing conditions and a warm welcome to all spectators.
The two-day event starts on Saturday 31st March evening at 18.00 with an afternoon start on Sunday 1st April at 14.00. As usual progress can be followed live on the FIM homepage FIM-LIVE.COM with results of each heat provided by TAG Heuer.
1. Krasnikov - 111 points
2. Ivanov - 107
3. Khomitsevitch - 98
4. Koltakov - 82
5. Krysov - 69
6. Kharachintsev - 64
7. Simon - 48
8. Aakko - 45