Super Swede Martin Haarahiltunen will get the defence of his FIM Ice Speedway World Championship crown under way this coming weekend (23-24 March) when Inzell in Germany stages the first of this season’s two scheduled Finals to decide the eventual champion.

After racing to back-to-back championship victories to claim the biggest prize in this exhilarating discipline in 2022 and 2023, Haarahiltunen is aiming to make it a hat-trick of titles this season, although he will have a fight on his hands with a succession of sub-zero heroes lining up to claim his crown when the action gets under way at a truly iconic venue.

Inzell is a historic location for Ice Speedway. Boasting an indoor seating capacity of ten thousand and the site of the first-ever FIM Ice Speedway World Championship finals to be staged in Western Europe thirty-five years ago, the Max Aicher Arena is an iconic destination and the perfect place to get this year’s title fight under way.

Haarahiltunen, who claimed the first title for his nation in twenty years in 2022, has dominated for the last two seasons. As the reigning champion he bypassed last year’s Qualifying stage before he let his riding do the talking in the solitary Final where an unblemished record of twelve wins from twelve starts was easily good enough for him to retain his title.

Once again progressing directly to the Finals, if Haarahiltunen is to emerge victorious he will have to contend with real strength in depth this season. His main challenge is likely to come from Germany’s Max Niedermaier who snatched a dramatic Run-Off win from Finland’s Heikki Huusko in the Swedish city of Örnsköldsvik that hosted the Qualifying Round of the 2024 FIM Ice Speedway World Championship at its Kallehov track.

While Niedermaier and Huusko must be among the favourites to deprive Haarahiltunen of his hat-trick, there is no shortage of fast contenders who could potentially emerge on top, and Germany’s Johann Weber must be considered a genuine contender. A strong second in the FIM Ice Speedway World Championship in 2022 before being sidelined through injury last year, Weber is a real threat.

We should not count out Jasper Iwema from the Netherlands either. After sitting out last year’s series following his participation in a reality TV programme, the talented road racer – who has competed in the FIM Grand Prix World Championship – is confident that he has what it takes to win.

Following Inzell, the 2024 FIM Ice Speedway World Championship will be decided at the second Final of the year at Heerenveen in the Netherlands on 6-7 April.