The Long Track World Championship moves to the grass of Roden next weekend as the competition enters its second half.
It has been a season marred by injuries and the field will be missing some of its leading riders. A major accident in the last round at La Reole saw the two top Germans taken to hospital and whilst Martin Smolinski has recovered sufficiently to take his place, Michael Hartel sustained fractures of his right arm and hand. Major surgery has been carried out in his home country, but his recovery seems likely to rule out a track return this season although he is targeting a the final round of the year in Muhldorf on 30th September for his comeback.
In the Long Track Challenge meeting in Bielefeld, Finland’s Jesse Mustonen suffered a broken collar bone and shoulder blade and has returned to his home country for surgery. Finally, in the European Grass Track Final last weekend in Tayac, France the exciting young Dutch rider Romano Hummel, second in La Reole, collected a broken thigh and is also unlikely to race again this season.
The absence of some of the top contenders opens the field to the leading riders and the two Frenchmen at the top of the standings will be hoping to extend their lead. Dimitri Berge, the new European Champion holds a ten point lead over his fellow countryman, World Champion Mathieu Trésarrieu who he relegated to fifth place in the European title race, a result that will have given his confidence a further boost.
Leading scorers after 2 rounds are:
1. Dimitri Berge (France) - 48
2. Mathieu Trésarrieu (France) - 38
3. Josef Franc (Czech Republic) - 30
4. James Shanes (Great Britain) - 29
5. Bernd Diener (Germany) - 29
6. Martin Smolinski (Germany) - 29
7. Romano Hummel (Netherlands) - 26
8. Michael Härtel (Germany) - 24
James Shanes has enjoyed mixed fortunes this year and failed in his attempt to add a third European title to his record but a good result here could move him into a medal position. Smolinski too will be a force if he has fully recovered his fitness and Josef Franc, second in Tayac has also found his best form so an exciting meeting is in prospect.
Replacements for the injured riders are Max Dilger, Hynek Stichauer and Anders Mellgren with local favourite Dave Meijerink as the Wild Card and the full start list can be found here.
Racing in Roden starts at 13.30 local time on Sunday and the FIM Jury President will be Christian Bouin from France. Italian Giuseppe Grandi will Referee and as usual the meeting will be streamed live on the FIM YouTube channel.