FIM Long Track World Championship Final 4
Eenrum, The Netherlands
On an afternoon when the form book was torn up it was Britain’s James Shanes who took the honours for the first time in his debut season at Eenrum when Final 4 of the Long Track World Championship took place on Sunday.
Overnight and early morning rain had put paid to any prospect of practice and the start of the meeting was delayed until 15.00. However, despite early difficulties the track dried out sufficiently to provide some good racing for the 2500 spectators and there was even some dust appearing towards the end of the meeting.
Czech champion Josef Franc was the star of the qualifying races riding unbeaten to carry 20 points into the semi final stage but Shanes was equally impressive dropping his only point to Franc when they met in heat 12. Championship leader Mathieu Tresarrieu enjoyed mixed fortunes and failed to win a race until Heat 15 but his 14 points were sufficient to carry him into the later stages of the meeting.
Former Grand Prix star Chris Harris had not made a great impression during his first Long Track championship season but he was able to put his mechanical problems behind him and experienced his best meeting to date with a battling performance that took him into the Final alongside Wild Card Romano Hummel and Britain’s Richard Hall.
In the Final it was Shanes who powered past Franc after a hesitant start and held onto the lead to take the chequered flag ahead of his Czech rival with Tresarrieu trailing in fourth place behind Hummel.
It was a disappointing afternoon for local favourites Dirk Fabriek and Theo Pijper who normally perform well in Eenrum. Czech Hynek Stichauer never recovered from two start falls and Stephan Katt narrowly holds on to his third place overall after failing at the semi final stage.
Leading positions after Final 4 are:
1. Mathieu Tresarrieu (France) 86 points
2. Michael Hartel (Germany) 82
3. Stefan Katt (Germany) 65
4. James Shanes (Great Britain) 64
5. Josef Franc (Czech Republic) 64
6. Theo Pijper (The Netherlands) 54
7. Richard Hall (Great Britain) 34
8. Romano Hummel (The Netherlands) 33
9. Chris Harris (Great Britain) 33
The final and deciding round of the championship will be in Morizes, France on September 2nd and should provide an exciting climax to the season. With Tresarrieu racing on home soil he must be favourite to take the gold medal but young Hartel can never be discounted. There will also be considerable interest in the battle for third place now delicately poised as Katt, Shanes and Franc are within a single point of each other. Katt, who regained his German title on Saturday, will have to be on his best form to stay ahead of Shanes and a resurgent Franc.