race reports

FIA/FIM-E Main Event at Santa Pod Raceway, England

The Season Begins


Words and photos by Ivan Sansom & Rose Hughes

Thanks to the SPR Timing Crew for access to timing data


The European Drag Racing season opened in spectacular fashion at Santa Pod Raceway over the course of the weekend. Off-season work at the track had seen the laying down of an all-new concrete racing surface with the expectation that quick times and close racing would eventually be the outcome. With most competitors getting their first look at the new track during the event and many recording personal bests, it would be fair to say that the investment looks as if it will pay off handsomely.


FIA Top Fuel Dragster

Qualifying in the premier FIA Top Fuel Dragster category had Eagle Racing’s Antti Horto lead the pack with a 3.9046/303.58 (a personal best for the Finn).

Just a whisker behind was Britain’s Liam Jones (shown) in second with a personal best 3.9054/312.20 from the CBD Asylum-backed rail who, in turn, was a shade ahead of Malta’s Duncan Micallef on a 3.9203/309.97 to complete an RFM team lockout of the top spots. 

Anita Mäkelä rounded out the top half of the field with a 3.9571/295.07.


The formbook had a number of pages ripped out somewhere between the end of qualifying and the start of eliminations with reigning FIA champion Micallef’s Bajada New Energy digger breaking traction immediately off the line and shortly thereafter chucking the blower belt against Stig Neergaard in the opening round in a losing effort.


Mäkelä was the only driver to record a respectable number (3.982/284.66 from the Levin Iglut rail) to defeat Jndia Erbacher, Horto pedaled and smoked to a six second win over Björn Mårtensson, whilst Jones was a second quicker in illuminating the win light against Stefan Gunnarsson. Mäkelä produced the best numbers on raceday in the semifinals with a 3.908/310.01 run to defeat Horto’s five-second effort, whilst Jones left too early wasting a 4.027s pass and handing a final round berth to Neergaard who stumbled over the line in ten seconds.

Stig Neergaard 


The final had Mäkelä leave first, but both drivers soon hit tyreshake before breaking traction and losing their supercharger belts in short order, Neergaard’s Eye of the Storm Lucas Oil backed ride having the greater momentum to make it to the finish line first in a 4.236/202.42 to 4.398/199.38 match up. Despite long odds at the start of eliminations, the Dane takes an early championship lead, although his current intention is not to run the full series in 2018.


FIA Top Fuel


1. Antti Horto (Fin)  3.9046/303.58 (semifinal)

2. Liam Jones (GB)   3.9054/312.20 (semifinal)

3. Duncan Micallef (Malta) 3.9203/309.97 (1st round)

4. Anita Mäkelä (Fin)  3.9571/295.07 (runner-up)

5. Jndia Erbacher (CH)  4.1066/245.21  (1st round)

6. Stig Neergaard (Den)  4.2313/260.95  (winner)

7. Stefan Gunnarsson (Swe) 4.4551/184.03  (1st round)

8. Björn Mårtensson (Swe) 5.6193/130.62  (1st round)

9. Mikael Kågered (Swe)  6.5121/103.04


Low ET: Horto 3.9046

Best TS: Jones 312.20mph

Surprise non-qualifier Mikael Kågered had an awful weekend with a fuel line rupturing off the startline on his third qualifying session resulting in a fiery conflagration and then breaking the rear axle main shaft on his last ditch attempt. 


FIA Pro Modified

Jimmy Ålund 


Reigning champion Micke Gullqvist quickly stamped his authority on the field with a new track record 5.8687/244.20 to head the qualifying sheets with fellow Swede Jimmy Ålund (5.9120/241.24), Britain’s Andy Robinson (5.9255/244.08), flying Dutchman David Vegter (5.9392/240.28) and Dane Kim Kristiansen (5.9408/245.06) rounding out the top five in the five-second zone.

Micke Gullqvist 


The Swedes would march through three elimination rounds with winning passes typically in the five-second zone to set up the final with Gullqvist adding to his extensive trophy collection with a 5.904/246.71 winner whilst Ålund slowed due a crankshaft failure at the top end of second gear providing the Old ’51 team with a frantic thrash to get ready for the next FIA round in Sweden in two weeks.

FIA Pro Stock Car: Only four cars made the trip from Sweden to con-test the championship opener with Bengt Ljungdahl leading the quartet with a 6.6457/204.43, but eliminations had Ljungdahl out with a big cherry with Robin Norén recording a new PB 6.652/206.26 thanks to Gray Motorsports power and Stefan Ernryd (shown) defeating class veteran Michael Malmgren with a 6.603/210.01 to a 6.687.207.05. The final was a classic Mopar v Bowtie match up, Ernryd’s purple Dodge leaving first with a 0.007s RT and powering away with a 6.603/207.21 winner to Norén’s 6.703/207.06.


FIA Top Methanol


The mix and match alky dragster and funny car category had a bit of a familiar look to the top of the qualifying sheets with Dennis (5.3218/270.39) and Timo Habermann (5.3653/265.11) sitting one and two respectively with Jonny Lagg’s A/Fuel entry proving to be the best of the rest with a 5.4118/261.17. Eliminations were opened with Dennis Habermann recording another huge terminal speed on his first-round bye with a 5.306/274.74.

The final somewhat inevitably boiled down to a match-up between the two German brothers with Timo (far lane) overcoming his younger sibling’s slight holeshot with a 5.301/267.34 to Dennis’s 5.376/269.88. 

FIM-E Top Fuel Bike

Fil Papafilippou


Greek racer Fil Papafilippou quickly grabbed the headlines in FIM-E Top Fuel Bike with his first nitro-fueled pass onboard the Gulf Oils Puma recently purchased from multi-time champion Ian King shocking the troops (and a few of the King Racing team members) with a 6.0991/214.08 on what was intended to be a 60-foot checkout. If that grabbed some attention, Fast Fil’s second effort was even more sensational with a 5.7826/236.16 putting him fourth on the all-time global ET list.

A bit distant behind came last year’s title holder, Rikard Gustafsson, with a 5.9951 at a booming 250.55mph (the first over 250 in Europe and the third fastest in fuel bike history). 


Any doubts over Gustafsson’s terminal speed were quickly dispelled in the opening round of eliminations when a 5.966/250.45 provided a stout back up, and the two quick nitro bikes progressed to the final where they delivered the quickest and fastest pairing in FIM-E history with a 6.017/227.82 from Fil just holding off a 6.027/240.32 from the hard charging Swede.


FIM-E Super Twin Bike


Super Twin really lived up to the Super in the class title, with the 2018 Main Event representing a substantial return to the depth in the field not seen for a while.

Marcus Christiansen and the unique ‘pro stock style’ injected bike built with his father, Speedy, delivering a low qualifying 6.4299/215.95 on their first visit to Santa Pod.


Eliminations went a bit crazy with all of the first-round winners deep in the six-second bracket, with Ronny Aasen on the Pels Family/Zodiac blower bike ripping off a sub-Euro record 6.385/198.91. Christiansen then took back class low ET with a 6.337/212.10 in the semis to defeat Aasen’s 6.462/228.92.

Hans Olav Olstad 


Christiansen’s opponent in the final was scheduled to be Hans Olav Olstad with the Thunderstruck parallel twin that had been recording consistent mid-six-second numbers (a best of 6.533/220.10 and a 6.673 at a faster 223.44 that almost had him in the field) during eliminations. Unfortunately, the Danish injected V-Twin developed a fuel leak resulting in a shutoff before staging, handing the win to Olstad on his return to FIM-E competition.


FIM-E Pro Stock Bike

Maurice Bertrand 


If TFB and STB were on a high, Pro Stock Bike looks to be a bit of a struggle this season with multi-time champion Fredrik Fredlund sit-ting out the year. A four-bike ladder was the outcome of qualifying with five bikes on hand, Kenneth Holmberg taking the lead into eliminations with a 7.4348/172.38 but that came at the expense of a motor for the Swecomposite rider. Holmberg redlit in the opening round of eliminations handing CBD Asylum-backed Alex Hope a spot in the final where he would meet France’s Maurice Bertrand who had benefited from a solo when scheduled opponent Martin Bishop was a no-show. Hope man-aged to match CBD Asylum team mate Liam Jones in leaving too early in the trophy match-up handing a first FIM-E win to Bertrand who ran through with his best of the weekend 7.455/174.41.


FIM-E Super Street Bike


We are used to Super Street Bike delivering the numbers and the pres-sure of 24 entries pushed the 16-bike bump to a new record at 7.6380 with Jemma Venables earning the unenviable task of facing up to the low qualifier (at 6.9682 and a rapid 214.82mph terminal) in the shape of her father, Steve.

Mogens Lund


Remarkably, the top two qualifiers would progress through the field to meet in the final with Mogens Lund tantalizingly close to getting his first six second ticket through eliminations whilst Venables delivered a new class ET record with a 6.928/208.19 best in the quarters and a weaving 6.934/193.05 in the semis.

Steve Venables 


The final was a lot closer at the stripe than the 6.9345/210 to 7.0380/210.81 numbers on the scoreboard would suggest as Lund had got the drop off the line with a 0.0002s RT, but Ven took the win by just over a bike length in the quickest and fastest class match-up.


FIM-E Junior Dragbike Cup


Surprisingly, only three entries were made in the second round of the inaugural Jr Dragbike Cup series, with Meggie Talbot losing her points lead with a first round loss to Liam Holgate who would then defeat low qualifier Blade Dummer who broke out and probably should have checked over his shoulder as Holgate was struggling with gearbox problems in the final.

Liam Holgate (near lane) took the Jr Dragbike win over Blade Dummer. 


All three are now on the same points tally with a long wait until the Cup series rounds out at the Euro Finals in September.


Remaining European Rounds


June 7-10: Tierp Internationals, Tierp Arena, Sweden (FIA)

June 28-July 1: FHRA NitroNationals, Alastaro, Finland (FIA)

August 17-19: NitrOlympX, Hockenheim, Germany (FIA and FIM-E)

August 23-26: Scandinavian Internationals, Tierp Arena, Sweden (FIA)

September 6-9: European Finals, Santa Pod Raceway, UK (FIA and FIM-E) 




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