The 2012 FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship Finals begin. Sixteen of the world’s best Ice racers will gather in Russia this weekend to begin their quest for the 2012 FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship.
The first round of the Final Series will be held over two days at the Zorkiy Stadium in Krasnogorsk near Moscow and the draw has now been made:
Ballot N° Rider Country
1 5 Eduard Krysov Russia
2 7 Franz Zorn Austria
3 3 Dmitry Koltakov Russia
4 11 Jan Klatovský Czech Republic
5 10 Harald Simon Austria
6 2 Daniil Ivanov Russia
7 9 Grzegorz Knapp Poland
8 16 Vitali Khomitsevich Russia
9 14 Max Niedermaier Germany
10 8 Robert Henderson Sweden
11 1 Nikolay Krasnikov Russia
12 15 René Stellingwerf The Netherlands
13 4 Dmitry Khomitsevich Russia
14 12 Antti Aakko Finland
15 6 Sergey Karachintsev Russia
16 13 Mats Järf Finland
17 Reserve Andrey Gavrilkin Russia
18 Reserve Maxim Lushnikov Russia
The favourite for this round and, perhaps for the whole series, must be current World Champion Nicolay Krasnikov. Last year in Inzell, Germany, after winning his seventh consecutive title he announced that he would no longer compete for the World title but a change of heart, prompted perhaps by his success in the Russian Championship where he finished as runner-up, saw his enthusiasm return. He confirmed this by heading the qualifiers with an impressive unbeaten 21 points in Poland and he appears to be relishing the prospect of a record-breaking eighth title when the series ends in Sweden in April.
There are six Russian qualifiers for the series, the maximum allowed under FIM rules, and the five who are snapping at the heels of Krasnikov will be keen to impress. With literally hundreds of ice racers in Russia, competition is fierce and to achieve a top six place through the domestic championships is no easy task. Daniil Ivanov will be fired up to reproduce his success in the Russian Final where he beat Krasnikov in a run-off for the title and his Togliatti team mate Dmitry Khomitsevich will also be looking for a successful start to the series. With brother Vitaly as Wild Card for this meeting to provide some sibling rivalry and Eduard Krysov, winner of the qualifier in Lukovitsy also in the line up, racing will be fast and furious.
It has been a turbulent season for ice racing in Sweden this year as emphasised by the fact that, with veterans Serenius and Svensson failing to make the cut, Robert Henderson is their only qualifier. Along with Finns Antti Aakko and Mats Järf he has performed well in Swedish Elite League but all three will have to work hard to match the Russians. Similarly, Austrians Zorn and Simon will have to be at their best to achieve a podium place.
Poland’s Grzegorz Knapp wins a surprise but deserved place after his performance in Sanok and Max Niedemaier is Germany’s only representative. Dutchman René Stellingwerf has been nominated by F.I.M as the permanent Wild Card after his spirited performance in St.Johann.
The two reserve riders nominated by the Russian Federation are Andrey Gavrilkin and Maxim Lushnikov. They will be ready to make a good show if they have a chance to go.
F.I.M. Official in control for this meeting will be GP Referee Craig Ackroyd from Great Britain making his first visit to Russia and Jury President is Andrzej Grodzki from Poland. As usual there will be two meetings, the first on Saturday evening at 18.00 followed by a Sunday afternoon 13.00 finale. Practice is on Friday afternoon.