Six National teams come together on Saturday to race for the FIM Long Track of Nations where the riders will put aside thoughts of their individual hopes as national pride takes over on the 550m track at Vechta.
Germany have been the winners eight times since the competition started in 2007 as the Team Long Track World Championship and have announced a strong team in an effort to regain this title on home territory. Martin Smolinski the current individual champion captains a squad which includes Lukas Fienhage, Max Dilger and Jorge Tebbe but new German Long Track Champion Michael Hartel is not selected despite having recovered from injury. However, the team still appears as one of the favourites.
France took their first team championship last year in Morizes and will be looking to do the same again. Former World Champion Mathieu Tresarrieu and Dmitri Berge who is leading the individual title race head the chosen list and much could depend on the form of David Bellego if they are to claim gold. Stephane Tresarrieu captains the team from the reserve position.
Theo Pijper captains the riders from The Netherlands and his experience will be valuable. The absence of Romano Hummel through injury is a major blow and his compatriots may find the competition a little too strong. The title last went to the Dutch in 2016 and they will need some determination and good luck if they are to be on the podium at the end of the meeting.
Great Britain have only one win to their name after stealing the gold from Germany at Mühldorf in 2015. They have a new Team Manager in Paul Hurry, himself an experienced track racer, and he has chosen a team which he feels will be suited to this speedway-like track. Missing will be James Shanes who has a season-ending injury but in Zach Wajtknecht they have the new European Champion who is riding well at the moment and the experience of Chris Harris who now appears to have resolved most of his machinery problems. Edward Kennett and veteran Paul Cooper complete the team.
The Czech Republic have selected a solid looking team headed by Josef Franc and could well provide some surprises and upset some of their rivals. Sweden too might bring some shocks but could be too dependent on the experience of Sebastien Alden.
Racing in Vechta starts at 19.00. FIM Jury president will be Thierry Bouin from France with Mika Laukkanen as FIM Referee.