Sweden’s Martin Haarahiltunen retained his FIM Ice Speedway World Championship title at Inzell in Germany this weekend with an unbeaten – and unbeatable – twelve victories from twelve starts, all streamed live at FIM-MOTO.TV.
The thirty-two-year-old became the first rider from his nation to ever claim two FIM Ice Speedway World Championship titles in a row after defeating his opposition in the impressive Max Aicher Arena.
Although a second-placed finish in Sunday’s final race would have been good enough to earn him the title, Haarahiltunen was determined to sign off on top and in front of a crowd totalling almost eleven-thousand over the two days of action he caught and passed Austrian veteran Frank Zorn in a dramatic climax to a high-pressured weekend.
“It is very good, very good,” said Haarahiltunen. “I wanted to win, I am here to win. That was my goal. I am feeling very, very strong this season. My team left me to do my thing in the final they know I am good at it.”
Haarahiltunen looked in charge right from the start and was rarely headed all weekend as he exerted his authority with blistering straight-line speed and lean angles in the corners that defied the laws of physics.
Early pressure came from home hero Luca Bauer who was in contention on Saturday and booked his place in the weekend’s first final along with Haarahiltunen and the Austrian pairing of Zorn and Harald Simon. However, the German had no answer to the swift Swede and his charge came up just short on day two when, in a restarted twentieth heat following a fall by Markus Jell, he trailed home third.
The Swedish father and son pairing of Stefan and Niclas Svensson had come through the qualifying round in Örnsköldsvik in Sweden at the end of January in third and first, but neither managed to make their presence felt.
Celebrating his fourth decade of racing Ice Speedway, sixty-four-year-old Stefan narrowly missed out on a place in Saturday’s final by one position and although thirty-two-year-old Niclas made the cut for the last four on Sunday he was effectively out of contention for the ultimate prize after finishing the first day back in seventh.
Despite Haarahiltunen’s dominance, the destination of the title was undecided until the last race on Sunday with the final line-up determined in a nerve-jangling twentieth heat where Germany’s Jell crashed.
From the restart it was Niclas Svensson who came home in front ahead of Simon as Bauer suffered the heartbreak of missing a place in the championship-deciding race by a single point.
With track conditions becoming challenging despite constant maintenance, Haarahiltunen chose gate two for the four-lap final and once he got ahead of Zorn the result never looked in doubt.
A fantastic performance by fifty-two-year-old Zorn earned the reigning European Champion second overall to equal his career-best result from 2000 with Simon tied on points, but losing second on a countback.
Relive the Inzell finals at FIM-MOTO.TV.