A temperature of minus 6C and snow greeted the riders and fans in Togliatti on Sunday afternoon for Final 2 of the FIM Ice Speedway World Championship and the ice was much harder than the previous day. The new ‘wunderkind’ of ice speedway, Nikita Bogdanov once again showed his class with an immaculate performance. Unbeaten throughout the qualifying races he took the inside gate in the final and produced a perfect first bend to enter the back straight in the lead ahead of Dmitrii Koltakov and Igor Kononov. Koltakov was not ready to concede defeat and his battle to catch Bogdanov provided one of the best races of the meeting.
The 20-year-old Bogdanov holds a 6-point advantage to take to Heerenveen in April and on this form must now be favourite to win the gold medal.
Current champion Dinar Valeev saw the chances of retaining his title slip away with another poor performance by his own high standards and he now sits in 6th place with little prospect of a medal place this year.
Although failing to reach the final, Johann Weber was again the ‘best from the West’ and his battling performance included a second place ahead of Kononov in the vital Heat 19. Weber had arrived in Togliatti last weekend and spent much of the week preparing his machines and settling into the surroundings. It was an investment that paid dividends with one of the best results of his championship career.
Jasper Iwema was not able to improve on his result of the previous day and is in 9th place in the overall classification. Although an experienced Moto GP rider he is quite new to ice speedway and continues to improve so could provide some success for local fans when the championship moves to The Netherlands in April.
Franz Zorn experienced another miserable afternoon looking sadly off the pace in his first two rides before withdrawing from the meeting after seeking advice from the Medical Officer on his swollen leg. Aki Ala Riihimäki again started with two disqualifications in his early races but finally collected a win with the slowest time of the meeting in a two-man Heat 20 where Zorn and reserve Ivan Khuzhin were non-starters.
Ove Ledström continued his poor form, but fellow Swede Martin Haarahiltunen was able to put Saturday’s low score behind him finishing in 7th place in the qualifying races.
Reserve rider Igor Saidullin was drafted in to replace the injured Nikita Toloknov but Local rider Ivan Huzhin standing in for the absent Harald Simon was another victim of injury when he clashed with Khomitsevich in Heat 13. He was taken to hospital where he joined his Mega Lada teammate Toloknov.
Nikita Toloknoi and Ivan Kuzhinhas received surgery in a local hospital. Both riders are said to be recovering well, we wish them a prompt recovery.
Full Results HERE
Communication FIM/ Graham Broddie