Astana Expo FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship Final 5, Heerenveen, The Netherlands
Dmitry Koltakov is the 2017 Ice Speedway World champion regaining the title he surrendered last year to Dmitri Khomitsevich with another dominant display on the second day in Heerenveen.
Nearly 6000 spectators were present to witness a gold medal performance by the Russian. He set the fastest time of the afternoon and showed a clean set of spikes to all his opponents. The only blemish in an otherwise perfect show was an uncharacteristic fall on the last bend whilst leading the final, a slip which cost the new title holder a maximum score over the last two days of racing.
Koltakov’s nearest challengers were unable to make any impression on the lead which he took into the final day. Igor Kononov battled on but his title hopes had already faded into the distance when he dislodged the straw bales during his semi-final ride and was disqualified. Khomitsevich also suffered a disqualification when he fell in Heat 36 whilst challenging Niclas Svensson.
A measure of the Russian consistency in this competition is that they filled the top five places. Austrians Franz Zorn and to a lesser extent Harald Simon the only westerners to challenge their superiority with the Swedes occasionally intruding into the Russian comfort zone. Fittingly it was Zorn, along with father and son Stefan and Niclas Svensson who completed the semi-final line up although none were able to progress into the Final.
Final positions after the twelve events are:
1. Dmitry Koltakov (Russia) 185 points
2. Igor Kononov (Russia) 170
3. Dmitry Khomitsevich (Russia) 154
4. Dinar Valeev (Russia) 135
5. Daniil Ivanov (Russia) 106
6. Franz Zorn (Austria) 104
7. Stefan Svensson (Sweden) 78
8. Gunter Bauer (Germany) 66
9. Harald Simon (Austria) 53
10. Niclas Svensson (Sweden) 49
With nearly 14,000 spectators enjoying some spectacular racing over the two days, the new venue in Heerenveen can consider the event a success and will look forward to a return in 2018. The Ice Speedway Gladiators will now return home where they will look back on the events of the last three months and begin to plan their assault of next year’s title.