The reigning FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Champion, Daniil Ivanov (above) had a near perfect start to his 2020 campaign this weekend in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The Russian won the Finals on both Saturday and Sunday and lost only one heat out of fourteen in an impressive display over the two days. Compatriot and 2016 World Champion, Dmitry Khomitsevich, came second losing just four heats during the weekend.
The best European on both days was Austrian Harald Simon, the only non-Russian to get to a Final where he finished in third on Saturday behind Ivanov and Khomitsevich.
That gave him 27 points in total after two days racing placing him in fifth behind the Russian pairing of Dmitry Koltakov and Igor Kononov, both with 28 points.
The points system differs from the SGP series in "normal" speedway. The riders are ranked at the end of each day by the points collected from 1st to 10th. But instead of taking these points forward to a grand total, as in regular speedway, they are awarded points based on their position - 20 pts for first; 18 pts for second; 16 pts for third and so on down to 0 pts for tenth. Therefore, Ivanov comes away with 40 points (2 x 20 pts). That differs from a near perfect 41 from a maximum 42 points he collected in his actual heats. In practice this should keep the competition more even over the whole series.
The Swedes came away with mixed results. On day 1 Martin Haarahiltunen was on fire with three wins and two second places. But on Sunday he faded, whilst Niclas and Stefan Svensson took up fight against the Russians. The ÖMK Rundbana trio are now glued together in joint 7th place on 17 points, the best placed Europeans behind Simon.
However, for German rider, Johan Weber, the weekend finished early when he taken to hospital after a high speed crash in Heat 13 on Sunday. It remains to be seen what impact that will have on the rest of his season.
The Ice Speedway Gladiators series moves to Togliatti, Russia next weekend for another Saturday-Sunday double header. Sweden's Haarahiltunen will be hoping for a repeat of last week's results at the venue where he won in the Stepanov Memorial pairs race with Russia's Dmitry Koltakov.
Weather permitting, there will also be also Ice Speedway in Gävle, Sweden too, with Round 4 of the team competition. However, the prognosis is for + 4 degrees making poor surface conditions for racing.