Born on 6 December 1984 in Münich, Germany
Double delight for Smolinski!
Decided over six hard-fought Finals that ran for four months from the middle of May until the middle of September, the 2023 FIM Long Track World Championship was a dramatic series that will be remembered for a long time to come.
Getting under way in Herxheim in Germany, successive Finals were staged in Ostrów in Poland, Marmande in France, Scheessel in Germany and Morizes in France before signing off with a third German round at Mühldorf.
Through all six Finals fans were treated to a dynamite display of racing, where there could be only one FIM Long Track World Champion and it was Germany’s super-consistent – and fantastically fast – Martin Smolinski, who was previously champion in 2018, who claimed the title on home ground at an emotional series decider.
Veteran Czech racer Josef Franc won the opening Final from Britain’s Zach Wajtknecht while the riders who would turn the series into a two-man contest – Smolinski and Britain’s Chris ‘Bomber’ Harris – finished fifth and seventh.
Harris staked his claim to the title with back-to-back wins in Poland and France, however thirty-eight-year-old Smolinski never let his rival open up a big advantage and after Denmark’s Kenneth Kruse Hansen and Dutchman Romano Hummel had claimed a win each in Scheessel and Morizes just one point separated Harris and Smolinski.
In front of his cheering home fans, Smolinski kept his composure and qualified directly to the Grand Final and when Harris failed to progress beyond the Last Chance Heat the title was his for the second time.
Just for good measure, Smolinski strung together four furiously fast laps of honour to follow home Hansen in the Grand Final and put the seal on a sensational season.
FIM Long Track World Champion: 2018, 2023
SMOLINSKI SMOKES THE FINAL SHOWDOWN
Martin Smolinski returned to the FIM Long Track World Championship as a full-time entrant in 2018 and claimed the crown he narrowly missed out on in 2012 in a sensational final round in Mühldorf that was only settled by the very last race of the series.
The five-round championship started and finished on home soil for the German, with the opening round taking place in Herxheim, where Dimitri Bergé marked his own return to Long Track with the win. The Frenchman led the series throughout, qualifying for every final except at Roden, and maintained a three-point lead after the penultimate round at Eenrum.
Smolinski, meanwhile, had won two of the rounds whilst defending champion Mathieu Tresarrieu claimed victory at La Réole, keeping his title hopes alive for an exciting finale around the 1000m sand track in Mühldorf.
The German fans turned out in their thousands in anticipation of home success and they weren’t to be disappointed. The draw dictated that Bergé met Smolinski twice in the first five races and the Frenchman had to give second best in both of them. By the end of the qualifying races Smolinski had equalled Bergé’s score and both riders entered the final on level points.
In the final Bergé scorched from the start to lead into the first bend but Smolinski made his move on the first lap and held the lead until the chequered flag, claiming the win and the title by a single point.
FIM LONG TRACK WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – World title – 2018