Dinar Valeev is the new FIM Ice Speedway World Champion after a dramatic conclusion to the Final in Togliatti on Sunday.
200+ pictures from Togliatti’s action and behind the scenesi
Overcast skies and the occasional light snow shower greeted the spectators on the second day and with temperatures hovering around -9o but feeling much colder it was fortunate that the action on the track was warming up and once again it was the four local riders who emerged at the top of the qualifying scorers to set up a repeat of Saturday’s Final. It had been an uneventful meeting until then with nothing to prepare the onlookers for the drama that was to come.
With the destiny of the 2021 title at stake Valeev had drawn the inner gate with Dmitry Khomitsevich alongside him in gate 2 and Igor Kononov the unfavourable gate 3. Defending champion Daniil Ivanov took the outside grid ready for a sweep around the outer edge if the opportunity came. However, fate was to intervene when, dramatically, disaster struck for Khomitsevich as he fought to protect his two-point lead. Attempting an outside pass, he ploughed through the straw bales on the top bend causing the race to be stopped, his disqualification confirmed and his world championship hopes shattered.
In the restart it was Valeev and Kononov who battled for the win with Valeev getting a narrow victory but leaving both on a total of 36 points and a race off needed to decide the title. A tremendous race-off saw Valeev have the advantage into the first bend to take a narrow lead but closely chased by Kononov who then headed the race on the third lap with a wide sweep around the outside on the top bend. Valeev was not to be beaten however and a dramatic pass on the run in to the chequered flag brought him the win and a well-deserved first gold medal.
With local riders stealing the limelight there was little for the others to enjoy. The Austrians had provided the greatest opposition during the preliminary races with Franky Zorn and Harald Simon finishing in 5th and 7th positions separated by local Wild Card Nikita Toloknov and claiming three heat wins between them. Marcus Jell was the only other visitor to take a heat win when the German headed Heat 4 and his overall total of 14 points secured his 9th place in the final classification.
There can rarely have been a more unexpected end to an ice speedway final but this one proved the merits of fighting to the end while there is still hope. In the famous words of American baseball legend Yogi Berra “it ain’t over till it’s over”.
Final Classifications HERE