Daniil Ivanov was the winner on the first day of Final 5 of the FIM Ice Speedway World Championship in front of 8000 spectators in a packed Thialf Stadium in Heerenveen on Saturday night. On a testing track Ivanov looked supreme, charging to a seven-race maximum and placing himself in a dominant position in the run up to the last day of this year’s competition.
In an all Russian final Ivanov held off the challenges of current champion Dmitry Koltakov and Dinar Valeev and now has a four-point lead over his nearest rival for the crown. Koltakov, making a strong effort to retain his title was beaten only twice, by Ivanov on each occasion and regained second place overall. Valeev, leader going into this meeting, was looking nervous and two consecutive disqualifications nearly resulted in his early elimination. He recovered to reach the Final but slipped into third place overall, eight points adrift of Ivanov and with a huge task ahead of him if he is to capture gold.
Johan Weber was the unlucky recipient of two falls and his failure to beat the two-minute time allowance in Heat 13 lost him valuable points so that he failed to make the semi-final cut as a result. Nikita Toloknov was not at his best and is clearly still suffering the effects of the knee injury he collected in Berlin.
Swedish hopes had been high with four riders in the semi finals, but once again Russian dominance saw them all eliminated with Martin Haarahiltunen, returning from injury, again the best.
Going into the final day of the season the title is still delicately poised with both Ivanov and Koltakov looking for their third championship and young Valeev hoping to spoil their party.
Racing resumes tomorrow at 13.30 (CET).
Total series points after day 1:
1. Daniil Ivanov (Russia) 153
2. Dmitry Koltakov (Russia) 149
3. Dinar Valeev (Russia) 145
4. Dmitry Khomitsevich. (Russia) 143
5. Johan Weber (Germany) 83
6. Stefan Svensson (Sweden) 70
7. Niclas Svensson (Sweden 65
8. Nikita Toloknov (Russia) 64