The small Finnish town of Ylitornio in Finland was host to the opening round of the 2017 Astana Expo FIM Ice Speedway World Championship and, predictably, Russia’s Daniil Ivanov finished on top of the qualifiers. The former world champion had been unbeaten in his first four rides but took an uncharacteristic fall whilst leading in his final race and his total of 12 points forced him into a run-off with German Max Niedermaier for the top spot.
Third place on the podium was young Russian Dinar Valeev but he too required a run off with Czech veteran Jan Klatovsky.
A further run-off was needed to decide the final qualifying places with Sweden’s Stefan Svensson and Stefan Pletschacher of Germany pushing Harald Simon into last place and out of an automatic qualification position. Simon’s elimination was a cruel blow to the Austrian who is still recovering from a hand injury and had looked to be in a satisfactory position until a fall in his last race.
Simon’s exit, along with that of Niclas Svensson were the two surprises of the meeting and both will now have to rely on possible nomination by FIM Track Race Commission as permanent Wild Cards for the series.
With the thermometer registering as low as -35 degrees overnight before practice, the track was difficult to maintain and the ice surface caused some problems for the riders. High winds and heavy snow caused damage to the barriers and some marquees were blown away but with the temperature rising to -10 good organisation saw the meeting completed successfully without serious incident.
Qualifiers for the World Championship series
1. Daniil Ivanov (Russia) 12 + 3
2. Max Niedermaier (Germany) 12 + 2
3. Dinar Valeev (Russia) 11 + 3
4. Jan Klatovsky (Czech Republic) 11 + 2
5. Stefan Svensson (Sweden) 10 + 3
6. Stefan Pletschacher (Germany 10 + 2
The second Qualification round will take place in Strömsund, Sweden on 14th January and will feature the new Russian Champion Dmitry Koltakov and runner up Igor Kononov along with local stars Ove Ledström, Robert Henderson and Jimmy Olsen. Add in Franz Zorn and Günter Bauer and we have a recipe for a classic meeting.
Text: Graham Brodie
Photos : Jouni Seppanen