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Ice Speedway: Haarahiltunen (SWE) wins Anatoly Stepanov Memorial Race

Swedish ice speedway racer, Martin Haarahiltunen, won a prestigious event yesterday in Togliatti, Russia ahead of a star studded field, including all four World Champions in the sport since 2005 - Russians Dmitry Koltakov, Dmitry Khomitsevich, current champion Daniil Ivanov and Nikolay Krasnikov.

A pairs competition, the match joined six Russian riders with six European riders through via drawing the names out of a hat. Haarhiltunen was joined up with three times World Champion, Koltakov.

Meanwhile the other Swede in the competition, Niclas Svensson, raced together with 2017 World Champion Silver medalist, Igor Konokov. They came in third place, whilst eight times World Champion, Krasnikov picked up second with Germany's Hans Weber.

The result bodes well for the Swedes as the field was made up entirely of riders who will take part in next week's 2020 World Championship starting in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Haarahiltunen was the top scoring European with seven points and won the race-off between the top three riders from the continent.

However, it was the Russians who dominated as usual, with Konokov and Khomitsevich dropping just one point piece. They finished equal with 14 points after 15 heats.

Check out the video below from the Mega Lada club, who hosted the event.

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Fredrik Lindgren signs for Division 1 Vikingarna

A local newspaper in Sweden, Nerikes Allehandla, has written today that the country’s top rider, Fredrik Lindgren has signed for Örebro, club Vikingarna.

Lindgren rode for the club as a junior, but today they are neither in the top Elitserien or the league below, Allsvenskan, but lower down in Division 1.

Lindgren left Eskilstuna Smederna at the end of last year to concentrate on riding in just the Ekstraliga and, hopefully, bettering his bronze in the SGP series from 2018.

He joins a long list of riders doing the same - Emil Sayfutdinov, Leon Madsen, Matej Zagar and also Tai Woffinden and Artem Laguta - leaving Swedish speedway without many other world’s top riders for 2020 season.

But Lindgren needs a Swedish club to race with in individual competitions, like the Swedish national championship in Målilla in July. So he’s decided to return to Vikingarna.

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INTERVIEW: Musielak (POL) returns to Gislaved Lejonen

26-year-old Tobiasz Musielak can look back on 2019 as one of the best seasons of his career so far. He won the Premiership title with Swindon Robins, in a final where he dropped just six points in 10 Heats, and was the second-best Polish rider in Nice 1 with a heat average of 2.103 for Orzel Lodz – the best points of his career in that league.

“I think all my season was good,” he said, “and I am absolutely satisfied with all my scores, except one match at Lodz against Gniezno”.

As for any rider, the worse thing about the season is the injuries. He was involved in a three-man pile up at Lodz on 16 June and came away with damaged knee ligaments. Having just come back after another injury, “the timing wasn’t the best time in my life. But I got my chin up and was ready to be back on the bike after three weeks.”

Musielak has been one of the few Poles to race in the UK. But after five years he’s decided to give it a break, “I’ll be back one day”, he hopes.

For 2020 he will be focusing on Sweden’s Elitserien and Nice 1.

In Sweden he has opted for Gisvaled Lejonen, a team who have also signed fellow countrymen, Maksym Drabik and Krzysztof Kasprzak.

“I raced with Lejonen in 2015 so I know many people at the club”, he explains. In fact, he will be reunited with Kasprzak and Swede, Mattias Thörnbolm, who were both at the club then.

The rider, who lives in Leszno, comes into the Elitserien with a 1.357 average, calculated by his last full season in Sweden for Vetlanda Speedway (above) in 2016.

But do not be surprised if he raises that a notch or two in 2020. With Robert Lambert joining the Polish riders on the roster, the club could well be in the final four by the end of 2020.

If so, Musielak has already shown that he can really turn up the gas in the high-pressure situations and get great results. So watch out for the 26 year old in the Elitserien’s playoffs later this year.

Also see my end of year review for Musielak here on Sportbloggare.

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Ice Speedway Sweden - Rundbana win Round 3

The mild weather is playing havoc with this year’s ice speedway season with matches in Gävle and Bollnäs being cancelled, including Round 2 of the team competition. Even in Russia, practice was cancelled on Friday before for the Russian league match in Ufa.

But thankfully, Round 3 in Strömsund went ahead as planned today.

All the teams have brought in changes to reflect that the ice speedway season is up and running in several countries so that this Round was a more all-Swedish affair.

Home team Strömsunds SK has to manage without top scorer, Jasper Iwema, Bockerna replaced Luca Bauer with Niek Schaap, whilst SMK Gävle had Christer Biskop and Andreas Lindbolm instead of the international pairing of Lukas Hutla and Jirka Wildt.

The meeting was again dominated by leading team, ÖMK Rundbana. Even without two of their top Swedish riders in the form of Martin Haarahiltunen and Ove Ledström, they still scored 50 points dropping first place in just five Heats over the whole day.

Martin Börjegren and René Stellingwerf came in to replace the missing Swedes and the latter scored a maximum 12 points alongside teammates, Niclas and Stefan Svensson.

Two weeks ago it was the hosts who won the battle for second place, but even with veteran Franz Zorn on the ice, they struggled to compete and end up last with just 16 points with a heartbreaking four stops in front of their home fans.

That left Bockerna and Gävle to fight it out for second place.

At the halfway point Gävle were ahead by 16-11, thanks to heat wins from Markus Jell and team captain, Albin Lindbolm.

But Bockerna never gave up and were getting closer, so that when 15 year old, Atte Suolammi won Heat 17 for the Bollnäs team, the two sides were separated by just three points, 25-22, with all to play for in the three remaining Heats.

But with misfires with both teams and Rundbana winning Heats 18-20, there was no overturning SMK Gävle’s lead. They came in second with 29 points and Bockerna finished with 24 points and had to be satisfied with third.

Apart the victor’s faultless trio, top scorers were Gävle’s Jell (9) and Albin Lindbolm (8) followed by Bockerna‘s Suolammi and captain, Jo Saetre (both with 7).

Weather permitting, Round 4 will take place in Gävle on 8 February with the re-scheduled Round 2 being played the following day in Bollnäs.

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ÖMK Rundbana dominant in Round 1 of Sweden’s Ice Speedway season

The first round of the Swedish Team Ice Speedway competition took place in Örnsköldsvik on 4 January.

As suspected, the home team, ÖMK Rundbana dominated scoring 55 points in the 20 heats against Strömsunds MC (29), SK Gävle (22) and Bockerna (14).

In fact, the team only dropped five points in the whole Round when Strömsunds’ import riders, Franky Zorn and Jasper Iwema both beat Rundbana’s Ove Ledström in Heats 3 and 18 respectively and then in Heat 7 where Iwema beat the home team’s, Stefan Svensson.

Top scorers were a trio of undefeated Swedish riders from the host team - Niclas Svensson, Martin Haarahiltunen and Jimmie Hörnell Lidfalk. Iwema was the best of the rest with 10 points.

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Dramatic finale to World Cup qualifier in Ice Speedway

With the Finnish qualifying round cancelled due to warm weather, Saturday’s race in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden the only chance to gain on the six remaining places for FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators competition for 2020.

For the top three riders on the day it was relatively easy racing as Igor Kononov (RUS), Franky Zorn (AUT, pictured) and Jasper Iwema (NED) cruised through the qualification dropping 0, 2, and just 3 points respectively. It was sweet revenge for Zorn and Iwema who on the same team in Sweden, Strömsunds MC, but where throughly beaten by hosts, ÖMK Rundbana just a week before this World Cup qualifier.

Harold Simon (AUT) and Ove Ledström (SWE) finished in fourth and fifth on the same points, and the deciding factor was the Austrian had beaten the Swede, who racing on his home team track, in Heat 9 into second place behind the charging Kononov.

However, that was nothing compared the drama that awaited Ledström's teammate at the Ö-vik club, Swede Martin Haarahiltunen and SMK Gävle's Czech rider, Lukas Hulta.

Hulta started relatively poorly collecting two third places in his first two heats. He then dropped just one pint in his final three heats to finish on an impressive 10 points.

Harrahiltunen had a clear lead in Heat 6 when is bike inexplicably stopped allowing Ledström to steam past to collect maximum points. The Swede later revealed his fuel pipe had fallen out. He had been lotted to take the final heat, number 20 and knew that only a win would enable him to draw level with Hulta and force a race off for sixth place and with that, automatic qualification for the Ice Speedway Gladiators competition.

And Harrahiltunen, did it taking first and rushing to the depot for last minute tinkering before the head-to-head with Hulta.

The Czech rider did not finish when the two met on opposing teams the week before in the Swedish league and in Heat 4, the Swede had also triumphed over his rival. And after 58.6 seconds it was three times lucky for Harrahiltunen who gained that all important automatic qualifier. That means that ÖMK Rundbana will have four representatives, all Swedes, in the World Championships, as Harrhiltunen and Ledström joining Niclas and Stefan Svensson.

The FIM also allows two wildcard place for the Ice Gladiators matches and it may well be that they take pity on Hulta and was so close to gaining that final place in Örnsköldsvik.

But at the moment we know that these top six from this qualifier with join the Svenssons, Russians Daniil Ivanov, Dmitry Koltakov, Dinar Valeev, Dmitry Khomitsevich and German Hans Weber for the World Chairmanship which starts on 1 February in Almaty in Uzbekistan.

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Maksym Drabik could face four year ban for drugs

Gisveled Lejonen maybe dealt a severe blow for the 2020 Elitserien if top Polish rider, Maksym Drabik is found guilty of breaking the anti-doping rules in an ongoing investigation which has just gone public.

The young rider, who was still competing as a junior last year, failed a doping control on 22 September 2019, when racing for Betard Sparta Wroclaw in the semifinal of the Polish Ekstraliga. The club finished the season in second place losing the final to FOGO Unia Leszno.

According to Polish website Przeglad Sportowy, Drabik has admitted to taking a legal vitamin injection four days before the race, but the report says he had 500 ml in his system, way above the allowed 100 ml.

The club have said that their doctor administered the injection and are cooperating with POLDA, the county’s anti doping agency. A trial could take place in February and if found guilty he could receive a four year ban.

Drabik won the Junior World Championship again this year, after winning in 2017 and coming second in 2018. He had his best ever season in both Sweden and Poland where he scored an average of 1.971 (8th place) and 1.989 (9th).

If banned, the Pole will not be the first in current competition to be penalised for a drugs violation. In 2017 Russian, Grigorji Laguta was banned for two years for using meldonium, the same drug tennis player Maria Sharapova was sanctioned for using in 2016. The banned drug increases testosterone in the body.

Before that in 2014, a year after winning the Junior World Championship himself, current SGP rider Patryk Dudek was banned for the use of methylhexanamine, an illegal dietary supplement.

Poles Dudek and Drabik were coincidentally both 22 years old as the time of their allegations arose.

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Masarna's Smolinski has bike stolen in Sweden

Alvesta Masarna have posted on their Facebook site today that their German 2020 SGP rider, Martin Smolinski had his bike stolen from his van in the hotel car park in Gothenburg, Sweden.

They are requesting all information, including if you see the bike or bike parts being sold on the internet to be reported to the police in the city by phoning +46 77 11414. The reference number for the crime is 5000-K1560427-19.

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Elitserien: Motala Piraterna 2020


Piraterna have had an epic post season.

Stefan Andersson Skill came back to the club as manager and Pawel Przedpelski extended his contract.

But that was the end of normality for the Motala club when news broke that the club was threatened with bankruptcy.

That lead to a mass exodus with all the foreign riders leaving the club and eventually Andersson Skill also threw in the towel too.

Several attempts to rescue the team failed and everything seem doomed until a second appeal to the public and local business went out. Then Piraterna announced that they would race in the Elitserien in 2020 and that Greg Hancock could be on his way back to Sweden!

That rumour sent the internet berserk, further fuelled by the four times world champion signing with ROW Rybnik in Poland.

With just over two weeks to find a team, new manager Daniel Davidsson, who is from Motala and was in the team in 2019, had “mission impossible” to find riders willing to ride for the club at short notice. Somehow the 36-year-old Swede has managed to do it and that has naturally, meant several returnees to the club, including Dane, Peter Kildemand, pictured racing Piraterna in 2016.

With no relegation in 2020, the club can focus on stabilising the Pirate ship and maybe, just maybe, the Grin will race some matches for the team before the season is out.

  1. Andrzej Karpov (UKR) 1.846*
  2. Pawel Przedpelski (POL) 1.524
  3. Thomasz Gapinski (POL) 1.467
  4. Josh Grajczonek (AUS) 1.458
  5. Peter Kildemand (DEN) 1.368
  6. Grzegorz Walasek (POL) 1.349
  7. Daniel Davidsson (SWE) 0.980
  8. Jonas Davidsson (SWE) 0.840
  9. Henrik Bergström (SWE) 0.500
  10. Joel Larsson (SWE) 0.500

1.846 is the average Karpov last had when he raced for Smederna in 2018. However, he only took part in three matches, and this is not the official average in accordance with SVEMO’s figures.

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Elitserien: Piraterna have a team; Masarna & Smederna sign final riders


What a manic first three weeks in the job for Daniel Davidsson as manager of the Motala Piraterna. But just a few hours before the deadline for the teams to be sent to the Swedish Motor Union (SVEMO), Piraterna’s Facebook page and local newspaper, MVT announced the five riders who will join Pawel Przedpelski, Peter Kildemand, Andrzej Karpov and Henrik Bergström at the club in 2020.

They are:

  1. Thomasz Gapinski (POL) 1.467
  2. Josh Grajczonek (AUS) 1.458
  3. Grzegorz Walasek (POL) 1.349
  4. Jonas Davidsson (SWE) 0.840
  5. Joel Larsson (SWE) 0.500

Polish veteran Walasek returns to the club (the picture above was taken in 2006), but perhaps one of the most interesting names is Australian Josh Grajczonek who, despite the fact that he will be 30 years old next year, has never raced before in Sweden. This year in the UK Premiership he gained a 1.669 average, similar to Rohan Tungate (Masarna) and Tobaisz Musielak (Lejonen) who he will race against in Elitserien in 2020.

However, the most dramatic news is not who is there, but a name that is not there – Greg Hancock. Despite the American being mentioned from the start of Daniel Davidsson’s short career as manager as a possible rider, there was no mention of the four times World Champion in either the Piraterna’s own announcement or the local newspaper’s article.

But is that the end of the matter? Whilst Rospiggarna have said on publicly on Facebook that the 49 year old will not be coming to Hällstavik, there was no such denial in Motala’s statement. At the same time, Davidsson had said earlier that one rider would be declared on Monday and on Hancock’s Instagram account he said he was flying out from Los Angeles, “Showtime! Been awhile, but it’s time to fly again”, he wrote alongside a picture of the inside of an airplane posted on Instagram. Is he flying for work or pleasure? To a place in the US or to Sweden to sign a contract with Motala? No one knows…

In others news

Hällstavik Rospiggarna have also said they will announce a new rider tomorrow, whilst the last few days have also seen Eskilstuna Smederna and Avesta Masarna sign their last 0.500+ riders. The latter team extended their contract with Russian, Vadim Tarasenko whilst the 2019 champions signed Krystian Pieszczek who had seven matches with Kumla Indianerna in the year that has just gone. However, 2019 was dominated by the Premiership for the Pole, where he raced the entire season for runners up, Ipswich Witches.

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