As expected, the favourites Russia took the top honours in the sunshine at the MOTUL FIM Team Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship Final in Berlin. The defending champions secured the gold medal again but by a margin of only two points and it was not until Heat 41 that their victory was confirmed.
The Austrian team provided the strongest opposition and a spirited performance by the Czech Republic was rewarded with a bronze medal. The Austrian pairing of Franz Zorn and Harald Simon had started in sensational fashion by leading the Russians from the start when they first met in Heat 8 and it was only a superb ride from Nikolay Krasnikov and a last bend third place by Daniil Ivanov that gave the advantage to the champions and helped them towards a four point lead at the end of the first day.
Zorn and Simon continued to apply pressure on Sunday afternoon and although an early disqualification for Simon had dented their chances the final score included a points advantage win in Heat 35 when Simon passed both Russians on the final bend. A major disappointment for the Berlin spectators was the performance of the German team.
Newly crowned German Champion Gunter Bauer suffered machine problems on the first day and although he recovered to score more freely during the second session there was insufficient support from his colleagues Weber and Niedermaier, The home team were unable to make any real impression and finished in 5th place. Swedish Team Manager Ola Westlund had taken the brave decision to drop his veteran riders Serenius and Stefan Svensson in favour of a young and inexperienced squad and his faith in the youngsters was vindicated by their results over the two days.
17 year old reserve Ove Lenstrüm was a surprise performer with a total of 17 points in his World Championship debut and with Niclas Svensson and Daniel Henderson in enthusiastic support the Swedes finished within 5 points of a medal place and gained valuable experience of racing at this level. The Czech team were delighted to take home the bronze medal for the first time since 2012 thanks to solid riding by the Klatovsky brothers but the Finns, weakened by the withdrawal of Mats Jarf were unable to improve on last year’s performance and only two race wins from Tomi Tani provided them with any consolation.
Result and scorers
1. Russia 56 (D.Khomitsevich 20, N.Krasnikov 20, D.Ivanov16)
2. Austria 54 (F.Zorn 31, H.Simon 23)
3. Czech Republic 42 (A. Klatovsky 22, J.Klatovsky 20)
4. Sweden 37 (O.Lenstrüm 17, D.Henderson 10, N.Svensson 10)
5. Germany 29 (G.Bauer 12, M.Niedermaier 11, J.Weber 6)
6. Finland 19 (T.Tani 18, M.Jetsonen 1)
7. Switzerland 15 (S.Gartmann 9, M.Birn 5, T,Cavigelli 1)