Photos: IBSF / Viesturs Lacis

Five teams within a few hundredths of a second - Sunday's final set to be a nail-biter.

Altenberg (RWH) After the first day of the World Championships in 4-man bobsleigh, all signs point towards a thrilling race to the podium in the finals. At the BMW IBSF World Championships 2020 in Altenberg (GER) Nico Walther (GER) has taken the lead after two of four runs, ahead of Oskars Kibermanis (LAT), Johannes Lochner (GER) and the teams under Justin Kripps (CAN) and Francesco Friedrich (GER), who both finished on the same time. Ahead of the finals, a mere 0.09 seconds separates the five 4-man teams.

At the halfway point in the World Championships, Nico Walther is on top with Paul Krenz, Joshua Bluhm and Eric Franke. The quartet managed to jump from third to first place following their second race. 0.05 seconds behind them was Oskars Kibermanis with Lauris Kaufmanis, Davis Springis and Matiss Miknis. The Latvians are just 0.01 seconds ahead of third place with European Champion Johannes Lochner and his team of Florian Bauer, Christopher Weber and Christian Rasp. Coming on fourth on the same time, just 0.09 seconds behind Team Walther in first place, were Olympic Champion and defender of the World Champion title Francesco Friedrich with Candy Bauer, Martin Grothkopp and Alexander Schüller, and the Canadian team of Justin Kripps, Ryan Sommer, Cameron Stones and Benjamin Coakwell.

The first World Championship run in Altenberg saw one of the oldest records in bob history broken: In January 1996, Christoph Langen/Sven Rühr/Markus Zimmermann/Olaf Hampel (GER) achieved a starting time of 5.04 seconds. In the 24 years that followed, no other 4-man bob team has been able to top their time over the first few metres. That all changed thanks to Olympic Champion Francesco Friedrich (GER) with Candy Bauer, Martin Grothkopp and Alexander Schueller, who achieved a starting time of 5.01 seconds.

The World Championship final in 4-man bob continues on Sunday, 1 March from 1pm. ©RWH2020

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Photos: IBSF / Viesturs Lacis

Nico Walther (GER, Olympic Silver 2018, World Championship Silver 2015)

„We really benefitted from the fact that we made the fewest mistakes. It was always our aim to be in the running for a medal. If that works out tomorrow, we can return home very happy after a difficult season.“

Oskars Kibermanis (LAT, World Champion and overall World Cup Silver 2019)

„It's all good. There were a few small errors here and there - in the second race we had some issues mounting the bob at the start. The real battle starts tomorrow. It's such a close race, it's going to be fun.“

Johannes Lochner (GER, World Champion 2017, World Cup overall winner 2019)

„Franz didn't hit the second run at all, but he's not far off. He'll be back on top tomorrow, I'm sure. We have to pull ourselves together, too. You just have to look at the times – everything is possible, just like for Kripps and Kibermanis. It's going to come down to the last run.“

Nico Walther (GER, Olympia-Zweiter 2018, WM-Zweiter 2015)

„Wir haben davon profitiert, dass wir die wenigsten Fehler gemacht haben. Es war immer unser Ziel, dass wir um die Medaillen mitfahren können. Wenn das morgen klappt, können wir nach dem, was diese Saison alles war, sehr zufrieden nach Hause fahren.“

Oskars Kibermanis (LAT, WM- und Gesamtweltcup-Zweiter 2019)

„Alles ist gut. Hier und da waren kleine Fehler drin, im zweiten Lauf hatten wir Probleme beim Einsteigen in den Bob am Start. Der richtige Wettkampf fängt morgen an. Es ist so ein knappes Rennen, das wird Spaß machen.“

Johannes Lochner (GER, Weltmeister 2017, Weltcup-Gesamtsieger 2019)

„Franz hat den zweiten Lauf gar nicht getroffen, dafür ist er gar nicht so weit weg. Der ist sicher morgen wieder vorn mit dabei. Wir müssen uns aber genauso zusammenreißen. Man sieht es an den Zeiten, da ist alles drin, genauso mit Kripps und KIbermanis. Das wird sich sicher erst im letzten Lauf entscheiden.“

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