For many years it has been the tradition in Herxheim to hold a race meeting on Father’s Day at their Waldstadion in the southern part of the town. Although this was interrupted for two years by the restrictions brought about by Covid-19 the celebrations will start again on Thursday 26 May as the Herxheim Club host the start of the FIM Long Track season with the 2022 Long Track of Nations.

Following the withdrawal of Sweden, there are 8 national teams competing for the championship on the near 1000metre track and racing promises to be of the highest standard. Teams will consist of two programmed riders plus a substitute or reserve who can be used at any time. The Start List has now been published and can be found HERE we look at the prospects of the favoured teams.

When this competition was last held in 2019 the French team was victorious, retaining the title first won in 2018. This year, hoping for their third gold medal they have named a squad consisting of the Trésarrieu family. Former world champion Mathieu, elder brother Stéphane and 19year old Mathias make up the team which is the same as the 2018 squad apart from Dmitri Berge who is not available.

In front of their home fans, Germany will be favourites but are weakened by the absence of former champion Martin Smolinski who is recovering from injury and is unlikely to race again until the end of the season. However, the team will be captained by Erik Riss who is returning to Long Track, and he will be supported by Lukas Fienhage, champion in 2020 with Max Dilger as substitute rider. They will be difficult to beat.

Great Britain select European champions Zach Wajtknecht and James Shanes both of whom are probably more comfortable on grass surfaces but have included Chris Harris who is on good form at the moment and will bring experience to the team. If Harris can avoid the mechanical problems which have limited his Long Track results, then a medal for this team is realistic.

National Long Track Champion Jacob Bukhave joins Kenneth Kruse Hansen in Team Denmark. Hansen was an individual silver medallist in 2020 and has now recovered from the injury which kept him off the track for most of last year. This is a competitive pairing and could upset some of the more favoured teams. Morten Qvistgaard is the substitute rider.

The Netherlands also field a strong team led by experienced Theo Pijper with current world champion Romano Hummel and cannot be overlooked for a medal place. Dave Meijerink is named as reserve.

Czech Republic have a limited choice for selection and have chosen the best three riders from their national championship. Josef Franc captains the team from the substitute position with Hynek Stichauer and Martin Malek the programmed riders. Finland follow a similar pattern with Tero Aarnio their most experienced rider filling the substitute position ready to back up Henri Ahlbom and Max Koivula if needed.

Poland have entered a team for the first time as they continue their efforts to raise the profile of Long Track in this speedway-mad country. Stanislaw Burza and Marcin Sekulla lack experience on ‘sandbahn’ tracks such as this and the veteran Adam Skornicki named as reserve might be a busy man. A podium place is unlikely but there could be useful lessons to be learned for the future.

Thierry Bouin represents FIM as Jury president with Aleksander Lyatosinskyy the referee. Racing in Herxheim starts at 13.30 on Thursday.

FIM/Graham Brodie