Dimitri Bergé is the new FIM Long Track World Champion after a dramatic finish to the season in Roden. He triggered great celebrations in the French camp as he sealed his title by winning the second semi-final to erase the memories of his disastrous capitulation in the final meeting last year.
Bergé had started the final round with a slender one point lead over 2018 champion Martin Smolinski and the two traded points throughout the qualifying races. Bergé was beaten only by Smolinski in heat 11 and the German dropped his only point to fellow countryman Lukas Fienhage. As a result, both Bergé and Smolinski entered the semi-finals with 14 points and a thrilling finale to the season was in prospect.
The first semi-final saw Smolinski drawn against former champion Mathieu Trésarrieu, but he made his customary slow start and had to fight his way into second place. Desperate for every point he made a rash attempt to take the lead and clipped the Frenchman’s rear wheel bringing both riders down and earning a disqualification from Referee Lyatosinskyy, a trip to the hospital with a suspected broken collar bone and the end of his title hopes for 2019. Berge duly won the other semi-final to ensure his championship for the first time and provide the French with their second Long Track gold medal of the year.
In the Final, rising young German starlet Lukas Fienhage pulled off a stunning ride to pass Bergé and Josef Franc joined them on the rostrum with a fine third place.
The other battle of the afternoon was for the important seventh place in the classification and Chris Harris finally found his best form. Assisted in the pits by former 500cc sidecar driver Shaun Harvey, he saw the end of the mechanical problems which have troubled him this year. He fought off challenges from Finland’s Jesse Mustonen and Germany’s Max Dilger in spectacular style to guarantee him a place in the 2020 championship series.
Final classification after five rounds:
1. Dmitri Bergé (France) 121 points
2. Martin Smolinski (Germany) 113
3. Mathieu Trésarrieu (France) 101
4. Lukas Fienhage (Germany) 79
5. Josef Franc (Czech Republic) 77
6. Theo Pijper (Netherlands) 66
7. Chris Harris (Great Britain) 50
8. Jesse Mustonen (Finland) 48
9. Max Dilger (Germany) 44
So another Long Track season comes to an end in dramatic fashion with a new champion and the prospect of another thrilling season to come in 2020.