They were not favourites to take this 2012 FIM Team Long Track World Championship, but they held on to their title for sixth consecutive time!
During the afternoon’s training sessions, the pundits’ predictions were more confused than ever, as all the teams rode well and had their chances, with the exception of Finland. Unfortunately for their podium hopes, they were one man down with Aki-Pekka Mustonen missing, and his team mate Aarni Heikkilä was suffering from a leg injury.
The German team with their coach Hukelmann managed their chances throughout the meeting. Coming from behind a hard-driving British team going into the final, the reigning champions won five of their six duels: four in the heats and the fifth in the final. Top German scorer Stephan Katt said afterwards that this was his team’s toughest and most gratifying win since the creation of this FIM Team Long Track World Championship.
The track at Saint Macaire is very challenging, with a tricky first curve, very slick on the inside and taking riders wide for maximum speed, and a technically testing second curve with a crop of bumps and hollows, a far cry from the type of long tracks favoured by the Germans!
The British team won five out of five duels in the heats and beat all the other teams despite mechanical problems. During heat 14, David Howe had an easy win but crashed badly on the finish line as his front wheel came off the fork. Howe, who had stepped in at the last minute to replace Andrew Appleton, was able to walk to the pits but didn’t start in the final heat as a recent shoulder injury was hurting again.
Richard Hall won the final in front of German riders but his teammate Glen Philipps had engine failure and team captain Paul Cooper finished fifth of the heat. The British riders were very disappointed with their second place after coming so close to the taking the top spot.
The Trésarrieu brothers again proved that they are the French team’s dynamic duo, earning themselves a place on the third step of the rostrum despite their team mates’ bad luck and mechanical failures.
The Netherlands also had a disappointing finish. With a fall for Theo Pijper and engine failure for Jannick de Jong, the B final put an end to their hopes and their chance of a spot on the podium.
All in all, Saint Macaire gave us a very close-run competition with explosive heats and no shortage of surprises! See results
Text and Pics Lydia Robin