The curtain comes down on the 2019 FIM Ice Speedway World Championship this weekend when the final event takes place at the Thialf Stadium in Heerenveen, Netherlands after one of the most closely fought series in recent years. Only six points separate the top four riders, one of whom will stand on the podium on Sunday afternoon as the newly crowned FIM World Champion.
Last year, current champion Dmitry Koltakov came to the Netherlands with an almost unbeatable lead and comfortably took the title by massive thirty-five point margin. He now trails behind Dinar Valeev, the youngest of the four Russians in contention and the only one not to have collected a medal to date. Fifth last year, Valeev is in the best form of his career and will be hard to dislodge from the top position but Daniil Ivanov, who was World Champion in both 2013 and 2014 will be fighting to add another gold medal to his collection along with Dmitri Khomitsevich, winner in 2016. The championship might not be settled until the very last race of the season but whatever the result of this exciting title chase, a feast of ice speedway is assured.
Although the medals will be travelling in an easterly direction, there are other riders in the field who still have personal glory and perhaps a top eight place in sight. Martin Haarahiltunen, now thankfully recovered from the injury which ruled him out of the last round, has been the most successful of the Swedish riders this year and will aim to see this reflected in his final position, ahead of Ove Ledström and father and son Stefan and Niclas Svensson none of whom are likely to give ground easily. Nikita Toloknov will return following knee problems and Johan Weber, who has enjoyed a very successful season can be expected to hold on to his fifth place. Missing from this round will be popular Franz Zorn following a serious hand injury during practice in Inzell. His season may be over, but he is already setting plans for next year.
With injuries forcing some late changes, Tomi Tami from Finland and Jimmy Tuinstra from The Netherlands join the field and local interest will also be satisfied by the inclusion of Jasper Iwema and wild Card Bert Schaap.
Since the closure of the old Assen track, Heerenveen has established itself as the mecca for Ice Speedway fans, particularly from western Europe and they will be there in their thousands to enjoy the friendly social atmosphere which this event always generates as well as the exciting racing in prospect.
Racing starts on Saturday at 18.30 with Sunday’s event commencing at 13.30.
Current standings are:
1. Dinar Valeev (Russia) 134
2. Daniil Ivanov (Russia) 132
3. Dmitry Koltakov (Russia) 130
4. Dmitry Khomitsevich. (Russia) 128
5. Johan Weber (Germany) 76
6. Nikita Toloknov (Russia) 61
7. Stefan Svensson (Sweden) 60
8. Niclas Svensson (Sweden) 56