This coming weekend, 18-19 March, the 2023 FIM Ice Speedway World Champion will be crowned, but only after two all-action days in the Max Aicher Arena at Inzell in Germany.
The pinnacle of this freezing, fast and furious sport is the FIM World title, and this weekend will see the discipline’s sixteen fastest riders going up against each other as they bid to win the ultimate prize in Ice Speedway.
Following the Qualifying round in Örnsköldsvik in Sweden at the end of January, ten riders earned their places at Inzell which boasts a seating capacity of ten-thousand and is the historic site of the first-ever FIM Ice Speedway World Championship finals to be staged in Western Europe thirty-four years ago.
They will be joined by Sweden’s defending champion Martin Haarahiltunen alongside four FIM-selected permanent wild cards and one local wild card in a super-strong field comprising riders from eight different federations.
The man with the target on his back is thirty-two-year-old Haarahiltunen who clinched the 2022 crown – the first for his country in twenty years – at a dramatic finale in the Netherlands last April.
Haarahiltunen’s talent has never been in question, though after being seeded directly to the finals thanks to his 2022 crown we did not see him in action in Örnsköldsvik so he has yet to show his form this year.
“You have to be very, very concentrated while riding,” said Haarahiltunen. “This is the most important [and] you also have to be a bit crazy. When I’m racing I feel like I’m at one with the bike. I am focused on which path I will take on the track and if I’m leading I focus on finding a good line and following it as fast as possible.”
What we did see in Sweden was a fascinating showdown between the father and son pairing of Stefan and Niclas Svensson. On the day it was thirty-two-year-old Niclas who got the better of sixty-four-year-old Stefan as they were denied a family one-two by Czech star Lukas Hutla who triumphed ahead of Svensson Senior in an adrenaline-fuelled run-off for second position.
This trio of racers are sure to provide Haarahiltunen with a strong challenge, although the eventual destination of the coveted FIM gold medal remains in the balance with nine of the riders who progressed to the finals from the Qualifying round all racing to heat wins in Örnsköldsvik.
The best of the rest is led by Austrian veteran Frank Zorn who last month raced to the European Ice Speedway Championship. The fifty-two-year-old won three races in Sweden to narrowly miss out on a podium position and after finishing runner-up all the way back in 2000 and third in 2008 and 2009 he will be hoping that 2023 will finally be his year.
Armando Castagna, FIM Track Racing Commission Director, said: “I’m delighted to have the fabulous event in Inzell broadcast LIVE. It is important for this discipline to continue in the best way possible. I’m sure that Inzell will be a tremendous weekend full of adrenaline and excitement considering that the World Champion will be crowned there.”
“Inzell is a legendary venue and I’m sure that the organisation will be at the top for these finals. See you there or catch the action live on FIM-MOTO.TV!”
The finals of the 2023 FIM Ice Speedway World Championship will take place in Inzell in Germany on 18-19 March and will be free to view live as the first event launched on the new FIM-MOTO.TV platform!