Austrian Frank Zorn completed a faultless seven ride maximum as he qualified for the 2013 Gladiators Ice Speedway World Championship Finals at the Challenge meeting at a bitterly cold ICA Maxi Arena in Norrkoping, Sweden on Saturday. The 42 year old from Saalfelden and in his twentieth season of Ice Racing looks to have recovered the form that deserted him for much of last season and believes that he is now ready to challenge the top contenders once again.
The organisers had worked hard to arrange this meeting at short notice and the track surface provided some exciting racing in temperatures as low as -18C. Much as predicted it was the Russian trio of Krysov, Khomitsevich and Chaika who safely qualified behind the Austrian. Chaika, the latest in a long line of Russian prospects dropped his only points to Zorn in Heat 2 and, surprisingly to local reserve Fredrick Olsson courtesy of an engine problem on the last lap of Heat 14. This is his first taste of World Championship action and he is sure to leave an impression when the Final rounds begin.
The 'Last Chance Final' to determine the remaining 3 qualifiers proved a disappointment for Dutchman Rene Stellingwerf who despite a great effort was unable to overcome a bad start behind veterans Bauer and Svensson and Wild Card Pletschacher.
It was a disappointing meeting for the Czech Klatovsky brothers and for German Max Neidermaier who all failed to reach the semi-final stage.
Scores and final positions:
|1. Franz Zorn||(Austria)||21pts|
|2. Eduard Krysov||(Russia)||17pts|
|3. Vitaly Khomitsevich||(Russia)||15pts|
|4. Pavel Chaika||(Russia)||16pts|
|5. Gunter Bauer||(Germany)||13pts|
|6. Stefan Svensson||(Sweden)||10pts|
|7. Stefan Pletschacher||(Germany)||11pts|
|All the above qualify for the Final round|
|8. Rene Stellingwerf||(Netherlands)||8pts|
|9. Jan Klatovsky||(Czech Republic)||7pts|
|10. Per Anders Lindstrom||(Sweden)||6pts|
|11. Tomi Tani||(Finland)||5pts|
|12. Max Niedermaier||(Germany)||4pts|
|13. Antonin Klatovsky||(Czech Republic)||4pts|
|14. Fredrik Olsson||(Sweden)||3pts|
|15. Sven Holstein||(Netherlands)||2pts|
|16. Miroslaw Daniszewski||(Poland)||1pt|
|17. Martin Leitner||(Austria)||1pt|
The top 7 places bring qualification to the Final Round consisting of 5 two-day meetings which commences in Krasnogorsk, Russia on 2nd and 3rd February and where they will be joined by 7 seeded riders and two Wild Cards. The draw will be made by FIM and announced shortly.