2019 FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Champion
Born on 12 April 1995 in Poland
Born on 12 April 1995 in Poland
Born on 5 February 1996 in Marmande, France
BERGÉ BITES BACK
Dimitri Bergé made up for his capitulation in the final meeting of the FIM Long Track World Championship last year, when he conceded the title by a single point to Martin Smolinski, gaining revenge on his German rival in a dramatic climax to 2019.
Smolinski took an early championship lead with twenty-four points from the opening round on home turf in Herxheim and after Bergé levelled the scores in his own local round at La Reole, the German edged ahead again by three points in Mühldorf. Home advantage then swung back the way of Bergé at Morizes, where the pair met four times with honours even at two wins apiece, but the Frenchman claiming the final to take the championship lead for the first time.
With just one point between them going to Roden in the Netherlands for their title showdown, the pair traded points throughout the qualifying races and were tied going into the semi-finals. The championship was effectively decided when Smolinski made a rash move on former champion Mathieu Trésarrieu and clipped the Frenchman’s rear wheel, bringing down both riders, and was disqualified.
With Trésarrieu too far adrift in the championship to challenge, Bergé duly won the other semi-final to ensure his first individual title and provide 2019 FIM Long Track of Nations winners France with their second gold medal of the year.
World title – 2019
Born on 11 July 2004 in Ribe, Denmark
KNUDSEN SAVOURS HOME GLORY
Jesper Knudsen was a popular home winner of an eventful FIM Speedway Youth World Championship Final, which was eventually held at the Moldow Speedway Centre in Denmark - home of the Holsted Tigers - after the original venue at Holstebro became waterlogged following the semi-final races. With the agreement of the FIM Jury, the organisers made the swift decision to transfer Sunday’s event to the track one hundred and fifteen kilometres away and the riders, officials, back-up teams and volunteers made the one-and-a-half-hour journey to ensure the racing could take place.
The event was contested by thirty-two riders between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, on 250cc engines, and with the heavy downpours looming on the Saturday, the semi-finals were run speedily with practice limited to one free session.
Mathias Pollestad of Norway came out victorious from the first semi-final following a run-off with Sweden’s Casper Henriksson after both had tied on fourteen points, with last year’s champion Ben Ernst the clear winner of the second semi-final with a fifteen-point maximum before the promised rain arrived.
However, Knudsen saved his best for the second night and under the warmth of the evening sun of Holsted he sensationally followed in the tyre marks of his elder brother Jonas, who won the gold medal in the same event in 2017. Ernst of Germany claimed the silver medal on this occasion ahead of Swedish rider Noel Wahlqvist, who snatched third after a tight battle with Poland’s Wiktor Przyjemski in the Final. It was a great season for Jesper who won the gold medal in European 250cc Youth Speedway Cup and FIM Speedway Youth World Championship.
World title – 2019
Born on 23 September 1986 in Kamensk-Uralsky, Russia
IT’S IVANOV THE INCREDIBLE
Daniil Ivanov emerged as the 2019 FIM Ice Speedway World Champion after a memorable 2019 campaign. The excitement started from round one, in front of seven thousand expectant fans at the scenic Medeu stadium in Almaty, Russia, where Dinar Valeev – who finished fifth overall last year - emerged as a surprise winner of the first final, before Ivanov took the chequered flag and the gold medal on the second day. Meanwhile it was a near disastrous start to the season for defending champion Dmitry Koltakov, who dropped points in the qualifying rounds and was eliminated on the first day after suffering a broken chain in the semi-final.
Koltakov recovered on the second day to stay in touch with Ivanov at the top of the championship and then drew level after a weather-affected second round in Shadrinsk, before moving into the lead on the opening night of the European season in Berlin. However, when Valeev won the final two from Ivanov and Koltakov, all three Russians were tied on ninety-seven points heading into the penultimate round in Inzell, Germany.
Over five thousand fans saw Ivanov drop points in his first race behind Dmitry Khomitsevich and Valeev but then ride unbeaten through the final to collect nineteen points from the meeting and move back into the series lead by a single point. The race for the title then took another turn on the Sunday as Valeev stole the victory and opened up a two-point lead going to the final round in Heerenveen, The Netherlands.
However, the two-time former champion was not to be denied this time and another full house in the Thialf Stadium saw Ivanov charge to a seven-race maximum, beating Koltakov twice, on the Saturday night before posting an unbeaten score in the qualifying races on the Sunday and securing his third title by beating Valeev in the first semi-final.
3 World titles – 2013, 2014, 2019
Born on 10 August 1990 in Scunthorpe, Great Britain
WOOFY, WOOFY, WOOFY!
Tai Woffinden became the first British rider ever to be crowned as a three-time FIM Speedway World Champion and secure his status as a true legend of the sport at the final round of the 2018 season in Toruń, Poland.
After another strong and consistent campaign, ‘Woofy’ headed into a title showdown with Bartosz Zmarzlik in front of 20,000 passionate fans at the Pole’s home round in Toruń needing just twelve points to claim the title. However, Zmarzlik produced an inspired performance to take four straight heat victories and keep the pressure on the British rider, who looked like he might have cracked in heat 11 when he crashed and suffered a suspected broken metacarpal in his foot.
Woffinden rode through the pain barrier and after a victory in heat 20 he took second place in the semi-final to wrap up the championship. The gritty Brit then rode with the shackles off in the final to win his second Grand Prix in a row and top the podium, inflicting Artem Laguta’s sole loss of a sensational night.
The championship runner-up spot for Zmarzlik, upgrading the bronze medal he won in 2016 to silver, was just reward for a strong season that included a famous win at Woffinden’s home round in Cardiff, whilst Lindgren’s first ever World Championship medal was the ideal way to bounce back after his 2017 season was ended by a spinal injury.
Woffinden, who also took gold in 2013 and 2015, surpasses fellow countrymen Freddie Williams and Peter Craven on two world titles and has already set his sights on matching Ivan Mauger and Tony Rickardsson’s record haul of six. His more immediate target for next season, though, is to retain the title for the first time and become only the third rider to do so in the SGP era since 1995.
3 World titles – 2013, 2015, 2018
Born on 6 December 1984 in Münich, Germany
SMOLINSKI SMOKES THE FINAL SHOWDOWN
Martin Smolinski returned to the FIM Long Track World Championship as a full-time entrant in 2018 and claimed the crown he narrowly missed out on in 2012 in a sensational final round in Mühldorf that was only settled by the very last race of the series.
The five-round championship started and finished on home soil for the German, with the opening round taking place in Herxheim, where Dimitri Bergé marked his own return to Long Track with the win. The Frenchman led the series throughout, qualifying for every final except at Roden, and maintained a three-point lead after the penultimate round at Eenrum.
Smolinski, meanwhile, had won two of the rounds whilst defending champion Mathieu Tresarrieu claimed victory at La Réole, keeping his title hopes alive for an exciting finale around the 1000m sand track in Mühldorf.
The German fans turned out in their thousands in anticipation of home success and they weren’t to be disappointed. The draw dictated that Bergé met Smolinski twice in the first five races and the Frenchman had to give second best in both of them. By the end of the qualifying races Smolinski had equalled Bergé’s score and both riders entered the final on level points.
In the final Bergé scorched from the start to lead into the first bend but Smolinski made his move on the first lap and held the lead until the chequered flag, claiming the win and the title by a single point.
World title – 2018
Born on 22 August 1998 in Śrem, Poland
BARTOSZ BAGS THE TITLE
Bartosz Smektala gained revenge on his compatriot Maksym Drabik after another sensational battle for the FIM Speedway Under 21 World Championship, with the two Polish riders swapping their final championship positions from 2017 as Bartosz bagged the title at the final round in Pardubice in September.
After three qualifying rounds in the Czech Republic, Sweden and Poland in June, the first of three finals took place at the end of the month at the Daugavpils track in Latvia, where Drabik opened his defence by establishing a three-point advantage over Smektala and British youngster Robert Lambert, who briefly led the final before conceding to Drabik.
The defending champion then claimed an unbeaten 21-point haul in the second final on home soil at Leszno in July to establish a clear six-point advantage over Smektala, with Lambert a further five points back after being squeezed out in the semi-final. However, drama was to follow from the start in Pardubice, with Drabik taking only three points from his first two rides, having dropped only one point in the previous fourteen races in this competition.
Smektala looked like he would dominate on the superbly prepared track butDrabik recovered his composure to collect eleven points and reach the last race with a one-point lead overall. However, the Final was to prove his downfall after he was boxed out in a first-bend scramble and was unable to make any impression on Smektala, who cruised to the win ahead of Lambert and snatched the title by two points.
World title – 2018
Team Manager: Laurent Sambarrey
Riders: Dimitri Bergé, Mathieu Trésarrieu, David Bellego and Stéphane Trésarrieu
FRENCH FOUR RETAIN THE CROWN
France retained the FIM Long Track of Nations title on an evening of surprises and great racing in Vechta, as the favourites Germany faltered on their home turf.
The two lowest scoring teams were eliminated after the qualifying races, The Netherlands and Sweden missing out of the final stages, whilst top qualifiers Germany were drawn to meet the lowest scoring Czech team in the first of the semi-finals. However, when the Czechs roared out of the start a shock was clearly on the cards.
Martin Smolinski top scored in the event, but he was unable to make up lost ground for the Germans after a slow start and a 6-9 defeat left them out of the final to the disappointment of the thousands of fans on the terraces. There was more drama in the second semi-final, won by Chris Harris for Great Britain only for his teammate Zack Wajtknecht to retire with machine problems. Consequently, the French took the race and headed for the final against the Czechs.
The final looked like it might produce another surprise as the Czech riders took winning positions behind the leading Mathieu Trésarrieu, although it was Dimitri Bergé who secured the title when he overtook Hynek Stichauer on the third lap to give the French a victory by 8-7 and start wild celebrations in the French camp.
A consolation silver medal for the Czech team was well deserved, whilst Germany took bronze with a higher qualifying score.
World title – 2018, 2019
Riders: Mathieu Trésarrieu, David Bellego, Dimitri Bergé, Stéphane Trésarrieu
Team Manage: Laurent Sambarrey
FRANCE TAKE FAMOUS HOME WIN
Riders from six countries did battle for the FIM Team Long Track World Championship in 2018, with France coming out on top of a thrilling event in front of their ecstatic home fans in Morizes. Teams of three riders, plus a reserve, over 15 heats to decide the destination of the Don Godden Trophy, with the French team living up to their billing as the pre-event favourites with a comfortable eight-point winning margin over Great Britain.
2017 winners Germany, who had won eight out of the eleven previous finals, had a significantly weakened team for this year with Martin Smolinski unavailable, Michael Härtel and David Pfeffer both injured and the out-of-form Stefan Katt giving his place to one of the younger riders. With Dimitri Bergé and Mathieu Trésarrieu both in contention for the individual championship it was easy to see why France were so well fancied and they did not disappoint, taking a crucial 10-5 win over the Brits when they met in Heat 2 and never looking likely to lose their lead.
Great Britain last won the competition in 2015 and their second place was well earned with both James Shanes and experienced captain Chris Harris scoring heavily, whilst the depleted German team were very happy with their bronze medal place after the selection problems that had surrounded Team Manager Josef Hukelmann.
The Netherlands also had injury problems with Romano Hummel and Henry Van der Steen both out, putting the pressure on Theo Pijper, whose 20 points were just not enough to lift them onto the podium as they finished four points adrift of third place.