2024 FIM Ice Speedway World Championship Qualifying starts this Saturday

The battle for supremacy in the 2024 FIM Ice Speedway World Championship gets under way this coming Saturday (27 January) with the Qualifying Round at Örnsköldsvik in Sweden which has become a mainstay on the series calendar over recent seasons.

A total of eighteen ice-cold competitors will travel to the city on the east coast of the Scandinavian country, five-hundred-and-thirty kilometres north of the Swedish capital Stockholm, to fight it out for the eight places up for grabs in the two Finals scheduled for March and April.

With average temperatures for Örnsköldsvik in January ranging between a high of minus-four and a low of minus-twelve degrees Celsius, the event will be held outdoors on natural ice at the Kallehov circuit, but while the conditions will definitely be freezing the racing is guaranteed to be red-hot.

The field will, unsurprisingly, be mostly comprised of racers from Northern Europe where this spectacular sport has its roots with a total of eight separate nations represented.

At stake is a place in the pair of Finals at Inzell in Germany on 23-24 March followed by Heerenveen in the Netherlands on 6-7 April where the eight qualifying riders from Saturday will face off against reigning champion Martin Haarahiltunen from Sweden – who made it back-to-back titles last season – and, following a change to the rules, the remainder of the 2023 top-five comprising the Austrian pairing of Franz Zorn and Harald Simon along with Germany’s Luca Bauer and Niclas Svensson from Sweden.

Aiming to join his son Niclas in Germany and the Netherlands will be veteran racer Stefan Svensson, although most interest surrounds the return to the series of Johann Weber.

After pushing Haarahiltunen all the way in 2022 before just coming up short, the German was forced to sit out last year through injury and his return is generating significant excitement.

Also lining up at Örnsköldsvik will be two-wheel all-rounder Jasper Iwema from the Netherlands.

The thirty-four-year-old did not compete in 2023 after agreeing to take part in a Dutch reality television show, although his pedigree is undeniable.

A former solid top-ten competitor in the FIM Ice Speedway World Championship, Iwema is also a hugely talented road racer who has extensive experience having contested the FIM Moto2™, Moto3™ and MotoE™ Grand Prix series.

Iwema’s Ice Speedway bike will be vastly different to the motorcycles he has campaigned in road racing.

With racers competing on powerful methanol-burning, half-litre machines, tyres feature up to one-hundred-and-fifty special spikes at the front and as many as two hundred at the rear designed to find traction on the gripless ice.

Following his dominant performance at last season’s Final at Inzell – where he remained unbeaten in all twelve races over two days – thirty-three-year-old Haarahiltunen will be a hard man to beat, but after Saturday’s qualifying round we will have a much better idea of who his main challengers will be this year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *