||Last Updated: Mar 11th, 2015 - 23:46:28
The MOTUL FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship reaches its climax next weekend when thousands of fans will converge on the German town of Inzell, one of the traditional venues for the Ice Speedway championships.
The destination of the title and the final classification for this year’s competition will be decided in this picturesque town set in the Bavarian Alps and whilst it is clear that all the medals will be travelling to Russia, which riders will be holding them is still to be settled.
There are two rounds to each Final and after eight rounds of this year’s championship there is a clear leader in the form of Dimitry Kolkatov who now holds a 21 point lead over his nearest rivals. Runner up for the last two years, Koltakov has been mentored by multiple champion Nikolay Krasnikov who has clearly been able to impart much of his knowledge and experience to help his protégé in his quest for the World Championship. This year Koltakov has emerged as a real contender and has led the series from the start despite having been sidelined with leg injuries during a Russian Championship round in December which had threatened to bring his season and his championship hopes to a premature end.
With Kolkatov widely expected to cruise to his first title, attention will focus on the battle for the silver and bronze medals with three Russians, Igor Kononov, Dimitry Khomitsevich and defending champion Daniil Ivanov within a point of each other and each a strong candidate for a series medal. It was these three who had a similar battle for the minor places in the Russian Championships earlier this year with Ivanov taking second place and Khomitsevich the third spot so Kononov will be keen to avenge that result on the ice of Inzell.
Germany will be well represented with Gunter Bauer expected to thrill with his enthusiastic riding. Last year at this venue he rode courageously with a broken arm and an injury free meeting this time will cheer the local fans hoping for some overdue Teutonic success. Stefan Pletschacher and Hans Weber will also hope for encouragement from the spectators if they are to overcome the poor form they have experienced lately. Wild Card will be Max Niedermaier and the reserves include 16 year old Luca Bauer, son of Günter.
Franky Zorn and Harald Simon, fellow Austrians, have been the most successful riders apart from the Russians this year and will be looking to end their season on a high note. Zorn collected an injury in his last race in Assen last weekend and had to forego his semi-final place but he is hopeful of being fit again in time for Inzell.
The Swedes also will aim to finish the series with a strong performance. Veteran Stefan Svensson has been consistent after a hesitant start in Moscow but Per-Anders Lindström has found the competition tough in his first full season at this level. The Klatovsky brothers Jan and Antonin from Czech Republic provided the best race of the day in Assen on Sunday and a repeat of this would bring the crowd to its feet again.
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