For fans of Moto GP, the name Jasper Iwema may already be familiar to you. The Dutchman raced in the 125cc World Championships from 2007 before moving on to Moto 3 and then finishing off his career in the Moto 2 series in 2015.
One of his many career highlights comes from his 125cc days and a race in his home country in 2010. “It was the fastest lap ever with an Aprilia RSW on Assen and I qualified 6th on the grid in front of my home crowd,” he says with understandable pride.
But going to Assen as a child would also lay the foundation for a dream which the 30-year-old is now living out today, “since I was young, I was interested in ice speedway. There were always world ice speedway races in Assen where I use to go and watch. I always said, “I will start doing that after my road racing career” ”.
Ice speedway, is exactly what the name suggests, speedway on ice and therefore a slight change in discipline from the Moto GP bikes, he was more familiar with.
But nonetheless, in January, Iwema made his way to the highly prestigious Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championships, the Ice Speedway equivalent of the SGP series. He came an impressive third in the qualifying in Örnsköldsvik in Sweden.
Iwema, who also goes by the name Ice Team Racing 800, is one of the few Europeans or “westerners”, as they are called, who are in the top tier of the sport which is dominated by the Russians. In fact, Russians/ Soviets won every one of the World Champion races in Assen that he saw as a child. But at least this year he is also racing alongside compatriot, Bert Schaep.
At club level, Iwema races with CSKA Moskva in Russia. But in Sweden he is at Strömsunds MK where he is consistently one of the team’s top scorers. Naturally, he also takes part in a number of individual meets to make the most of the short season.
It has been a tough start to the Ice Gladiators series for the Dutchman. After three Saturday-Sunday meetings in Russian venues he has picked up just 16 points and lies in 17th overall.
However, there are two European legs of the competition left, first in Germany before the series will reach its climax in his home country at Heerenveen. His goal in these final four stages of the World Championships is to get to the semi-finals.
This is a stretching, but possible ambition, for all the western riders. But he will not just have to beat some of the Russians to get there, but also the top placed Europeans, Harald Simon (AUT), Johann Weber (GER) and Martin Haarahiltunen (SWE) who will also be in his way.
An avid V-blogger, you can follow Jasper Iwema and Ice Team Racing 800 on social media, including his own channel on You Tube.