The 2019 FIM Long Track World Championship opened in style at the Waldstadion on Thursday where 14,500 spectators were on hand in fine weather to celebrate Fathers Day in the traditional Herxheim way.
Many fans were anticipating a home victory as Martin Smolinski began the defence of his title in style by leading the field at the end of the qualifying stage but former champion Matthieu Tresarrieu surprised them with a stunning second lap pass of the German in the Final to take the podium top spot but Smolinski’s 24 points gives him the overall lead after this first round. Third was Dmitri Berge with James Shanes and Josef Franc completing the top five.
Theo Pijper narrowly missed the cut for the Final and his 14 points leaves him in sixth place but fellow Dutchman Romano Hummel fresh from winning a big meeting in Eenrum at the weekend had a meeting to forget, suffering two mechanical interruptions and a disqualification after looking in splendid form with two race wins including one over Smolinski.
Another bright spot for the home fans was the performance of Lukas Fienhage, at 19 years the youngest in the field and his 12 points was a satisfactory start to his debut season. Andrew Appleton, making a return to the Long Track championship had a mixed meeting but despite a retirement in one race he made the semi-final stage where a disqualification saw the end of his afternoon’s racing.
Chris Harris continues his erratic venture into Long Track. He had arrived with two new untried engines but neither performed well and he now faces a hard road ahead if he is to be among the medals at the end of the series.
Leading scores after one round:
Martin Smolinski (Germany) 24 points
Matthieu Tresarrieu (France) 21
Dmitri Berge (France) 21
James Shanes (Great Britain) 18
Josef Franc (Czech Republic) 15
Theo Pijper (The Netherlands) 14
The series resumes with Final 2 in La Reole, France in three weeks time.