Martin Haarahiltunen is the new FIM Ice Speedway World Champion after an afternoon of drama at the Thialf Stadium in Heerenveen. The Super Swede stunned the opposition to become the first rider from Sweden to win individual gold in this competition for 20 years. The 31-year-old started the meeting trailing the favourite Johann Weber by nine points and he was expected to collect a silver medal but, unwilling to accept second best he put together an unbeaten six race maximum which saw him safely to the top of the classification to the delight of his many supporters present.

Pictures from the meeting

And what of Weber? Was the pre-meeting favourite overcome by nerves at the thought of a World Championship within his grasp? In our report of Final 3 we suggested that it would require a huge effort from the Swede and a disastrous meeting for the German to upset the odds, but this is precisely what occurred. A second place in his first two races suggested that Weber was taking a measured route to the final with the comfort of a healthy lead in the series but then disaster struck. A fall in his third ride whilst leading lost him points and damaged his machine but he then failed to beat the two-minute time allowance in the restarted heat 15 and his chance of the title had slipped away. A consolation win in his last race was not enough to qualify him for the final that he needed to reach, and he finished in 9th place.

The absence of the MFR riders should not detract from the Haarahiltunen’s triumph although he acknowledged that his task would have been harder if they had been present. We remember that he has been one of the few capable of challenging the eastern riders over the last few seasons and thoroughly deserves this win. The absent Nikita Bogdanov collected third place by virtue of his performance in Togliatti.

Second in the final was Harald Simon whose 34 points over this weekend takes him into 5th place in the classification despite the fact that he was unable to compete in Togliatti. Czech Lukas Hutla in 4th place will regret his low scores in Finals 1 and 2 where a better result could have seen him take the bronze medal.

Wild Card Luca Bauer and Sweden’s Jimmy Hornell both scored well on their only appearances in this year’s championship but for Ove Ledström it was a disappointing end to his ice racing career. He had already announced that he would be retiring from racing after this meeting but unfortunately a fall in Final 3 on Saturday left him unfit and he had to withdraw from the second day’s event. Aki Ala-Riihimäki also withdrew after his first ride.

With a more even field, the healthy sized crowd enjoyed racing of a high standard on both days an although the results may not have been what we had expected at the start of the season, it was a boost for the future of ice speedway in the west and particularly for the re-emergence of Sweden in this exciting discipline.

Full results Final 4 HERE

Final Championship scores:

  1. Martin Haarahiltunen (Swe)-54 points
  2. Johann Weber (GER)-51
  3. Nikita Bogdanov (MFR)-40
  4. Lukas Hutla (CZE)-37
  5. Harald Simon (AUT)-34
  6. Igor Kononov (MFR)-34
  7. Jasper Iwema (NED)-31
  8. Dmitry Koltakov (MFR)-30
  9. Dmitry Khomitsevich (MFR)-30
  10. Luca Bauer (GER)-26
  11. Jimmy Hornell (SWE)-22
  12. Dinar Valeev (MFR)-22
  13. Franz Mayerbuchler (GER)-21
  14. Max Koivula (FIN)-20
  15. Ove Ledstrom (SWE)-20
  16. Ivan Khuzhin (MFR)-20
  17. Joakim Soderstrom (SWE)-18

FIM/Graham Brodie