A fair-sized crowd enjoyed some winter sunshine as Final 3 of the 2020 FIM Ice Speedway World Championship took place in Togliatti on Saturday afternoon. The Russians again took centre stage with Daniil Ivanov emerging the winner, but he was made to fight hard for his top place.
An uncharacteristic fall in a vital Heat nine saw Ivanov disqualified and he could only watch from the pits as rivals Dmitry Khomitsevich and Wild Card Evgeniy Saydullin battled for the win. Ivanov won his remaining qualifying races and was drawn in Semi Final two against Dinar Valeev and Igor Kononov. He appeared to have the race under control until the track conditions caught him and he found himself pushed back to third place and likely elimination. Showing the track craft which brought him his championship status, he recovered to overtake Kononov and claim his place in the Final.
The Final itself brought us another classic race with Khomitsevich surging ahead after a great start and looking to secure his first win of the season, but Ivanov stalked him for nearly four laps until, finding the drive out of the final bend, he held it over the finishing line to win by a tyre’s width bringing the crowd to its feet and providing a fitting climax to an afternoon of top racing.
Johan Weber was again in the wars after clashing spectacularly with Martin Haarahiltunen on the back straight in Heat thirteen. He was happily uninjured and was able to take his place in the restart, but two earlier disqualifications had put his progress in doubt. He scored two points in Heat seventeen after both Jasper Iwema and Lukas Hutla had fallen and took his place in Semi Final two, but made no impression on his three Russian rivals. Despite his earlier disqualification Haarahiltunen was the other westerner to appear in the semi-finals, but again was not able to match the Russians’ speed.
The Dutch pair of Iwema and Bart Schaap were disappointing collecting only one point each.
Hutla had come into the meeting as a last-minute replacement for Swede Niclas Svensson who has a foot injury, but a combination of technical problems, poor starts, and a first race fall left him close to the bottom of the scorers.
Racing in Togliatti Final 4 starts at 14.00 on Sunday afternoon.