July 17, 2024
Track Racing Hub

Team GB third at 2023 Long Track of Nations as Netherlands triumph on home soil – Race Report & Results

Dynamite Dutchman Romano Hummel was the rider of the moment as the Netherlands streaked to a famous victory on home soil at Roden yesterday to be crowned 2023 FIM Long Track of Nations (LToN) champions.

Report and Images courtesy of FIM Long Track – Jesper Veldhuizen

The twenty-four-year-old – who won the individual FIM Long Track World Championship in 2021 – was in fantastic form on a very tough and technical track to sweep through his Heats with six wins before sealing the deal for his nation with a seventh victory of the afternoon in the Grand Final against defending champions Germany.

Of course, the LToN is very much a team event and he would not have been able to steer his nation to a third victory in the event without super-strong support from Dave Meijerink, Mika Meijer and Jannick de Jong, but the day belonged to Hummel.

With heavy overnight rain delaying the start as the track team worked feverishly to prepare the surface, when the tapes eventually went up the German team – which featured double individual world champions Erik Riss and Martin Smolinski along with Jörg Tebbe and Stephan Katt – staged an immediate demonstration of firepower.

Riss, Smolinski and Tebbe filled the top three positions in their opening Heat for maximum points as they comfortably defeated Finland and Great Britain, led by Chris ‘Bomber’ Harris and Zach Wajtknecht with support from Andrew Appleton and Paul Hurry, then enjoyed a similar margin of victory over France and the Dutch only dropped a point in their opening Heat against the Czech Republic.

Germany then recorded another maximum score against France and the Netherlands comfortably defeated Great Britain as a Scandinavian scrap for fourth developed between Finland – led by Tero Aarnio, Henri Ahlbom and brothers Jesse and Topi Mustonen – and Denmark.

On paper the Danish foursome of world championship regulars Kenneth Kruse Hansen and Jacob Bukhave along with Tobias Thomsen and Morten Qvistgaard should have had the upper hand, but a series of mechanical issues for Hansen meant he failed to finish a race all afternoon as the Danes eventually slipped down the order to sixth behind the Czech Republic.

With the top two countries after the Heats going through to the Grand Final to dispute gold and silver medals and the next two nations having a run-off for bronze the writing was on the wall early on as Germany and the hosts pulled clear.

Fans were treated to a dress rehearsal of the Grand Final when Germany and the Netherlands squared up in Heat Eighteen. With Riss and Hummel both unbeaten something had to give and it was the Dutchman who made two early passes for the lead to give his nation the advantage.

The results of both countries’ final Heat races – the Netherlands against Finland and Germany versus Great Britain – never looked likely to alter the leaderboard and the neighbouring nations booked their places in the Grand Final with the Netherlands on sixty-four points to Germany’s fifty-seven.

In the battle for the third step of the podium Great Britain on forty-nine points lined up against Finland on forty-four. With all scores reset to zero it was Harris who muscled his way to the front in the first corner from the inside gate and when Wajtknecht pushed through to third and then swept ahead of Jesse Mustonen on the final lap Great Britain’s first podium since 2018 was assured.

Newly crowned individual world champion Smolinski got the start in the Grand Final from Riss, but neither had any answer to the electric pace of Hummel who dived up the inside to go from third to first before Meijerink made a bold pass on Riss to seal the deal for the Dutch in third behind Smolinski.

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