The penultimate round of the 2017 Astana Expo FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship will take place in Berlin on 4 and 5 March as the competition moves to the artificial tracks of Western Europe.
The full Starting List can be found HERE
Dmitri Koltakov and Igor Kononov will renew their rivalry at the top of the leader board as the run-in to the finale takes place at the Horst-Dohm stadium on Saturday and Sunday. Only two points separate the Russians and one of these should be holding the gold medal in Holland next month unless current champion Dmitry Khomitsevich can make up the ground he lost in Kazakhstan.
Former champion Daniil Ivanov saw his title hopes disappear on the ice of Almaty when a collapsed wheel saw him take a heavy fall, which resulted in a broken shoulder, and a zero points return. Despite this, he has delayed the necessary surgery and rode for his Russian league team Mega-Lada in the Russian Championship decider in Togliatti last week. He will be determined to prove that he is still a force to be reckoned with and could cause a few surprises in the remaining races this year. 19-year-old Dinar Valeev has created a good impression in his debut season and although he has lost touch with the top three could also be a thorn in their side.
History will be made in Berlin as for the first time two father and son pairs will race in this competition. New Swedish champion Niclas Svensson will be facing father Stefan whilst veteran Gunther Bauer will be joined by son Luca riding as the Wild Card.
Injury has played a part in the competition once again this year. Aside from Ivanov, the series has lost Sweden’s Jimmy Olsen who had been posting some impressive performances until a broken elbow brought his season to a premature end. The Swedes still sport a strong squad, as, apart from the Svensson family, Ove Ledström has been an impressive debutant this year. Mentored by Ice Race legend ‘Posa’ Serenius Ove is currently in 9th place
Franz Zorn is enjoying perhaps his most successful season for some years. He has persistently challenged the Russian dominance and his fifth place is fully justified. Compatriot Harald Simon returns from Ufa where he took fourth place in the European Championship despite riding with a broken rib. He was disappointed with his results in Russia and will be hoping for better fortune in Berlin.
German fans will be looking for better results from their local heroes with only Günther Bauer having had any success to date. Max Niedermaier will be boosted by his fifth place in Ufa but Hans Weber has been a shadow of his old self this season and needs a good meeting here to recover his confidence and form. Wild Card Luca Bauer will have much support and there will also be interest in the reserve Tobias Busch who is better known for racing in conventional speedway and is in his first season on the ice. The Final of the German Championship will be held here on Thursday evening to serve as an appetiser for the weekend’s event.
Current leading scorers are: 1- Dmitri Kolkatov (Russia) 105; 2- Igor Kononov (Russia) 103; 3- Dmitri Khomitsevich (Russia) 94; 4- Dinar Valeev (Russia) 77; 5- Franz Zorn (Austria) 62; 6- Daniil Ivanov (Russia) 56; 7- Stefan Svensson (Sweden) 44; 8- Günther Bauer (Germany) 42; 9- Ove Ledström (Sweden) 32.
The Final 4 in Berlin commences at 17.00 on Saturday evening with the Sunday afternoon meeting starting at 14.00. FIM Jury President will be Armando Castagna from Italy and Referee Susanne Hüttinger from Austria.