Alex Hope defeated Martin Newbury in an all British match up, whilst the other qualified Brits, Martin Bishop and Len Paget, fell to Holmberg and Abraham respectively.
FIM-E Super Street Bike
So long a British benefit, with Garry Bowe (7.061/207.04) and Rick Stubbins (7.097/203.23) flying the flag for the UK in the top spots in qualifying, the Super Street Bike class is now a truly Pan-European one with a dramatic increase in the Scandinavian entries this year.
The sixteen-bike eliminator almost managed to complete two rounds with Hungary’s Daniel Donat Lencses (shown) defeating Bowe, Stubbins progressing past Steve Venables and a surprising Dave Thomas (having repeatedly lowered his PB mark to just make the field) who holeshot incoming points leader Malta’s Franklyn Borg to book a space in the semi-finals.
Unfortunately, repeated holds for drizzle bumped the final pairing behind the Pro Mod quarters which delivered further frustration in the shape of an oildown, leaving Dane Mogens Lund and Swede Robert Nilsson in the water box muttering more than a few Scandinavia oaths when the rain came.
As is always the case at the European meetings, the supporting cast isn’t too shabby with the admittedly small nitro funny car field being led by Steve Ashdown, and the debut of the superbly detailed Ugly Sister 55 Chevy of Andy Bond in Topspeed Automotive Street Eliminator.
FIM-E Top Fuel Bike
With 10-time and reigning champion Ian King racing in the States in 2017, the chase for this season’s title in the premier FIM-E Top Fuel Bike category seemed to be wide open, and, with the early finish to the meeting, we are little the wiser. Low qualifier with an off-the-trailer 6.114/220.17, Rikard Gustafsson (shown) on the RG Engineering Puma fueler had made some small adjustments over the winter, with a new stronger crank being foremost among these. With 11 entries, Gustafsson had a healthy half a second advantage over the field (the best of the rest being Fil Papafilipou on his nitrous PXM at 6.687/205.34).
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Gustafsson however as the new crank had a scored main bearing which required a night of polishing to make it to the startline for eliminations. First round on the truncated finals day had four nitrobike v funnybike with all four going the way of those on pop: Rene van den Berg defeating Stuart Crane with a 6.543/194.70 to 6.973/172.36; Steve Woollatt on the Dealer PBR Puma fuel bike prevailed over Papafilippou with a 6.450/192.44 and Otto Knebl made it three out of three for the nitrobikes with a mid-seven second victory over the unique compound turbo entry of Lorcan Par-nell, leaving Gustafsson to defeat fellow Swede Thomas Pettersson with a 6.435/233.70.
The semi-finalists were in the pairing lanes when the rain came down, but Gustafsson was without his bike as a plummet in oil pressure as he rolled off the throttle suggesting the main bearing had given up the ghost again: “I’ll have a look at it when I get back to Falkenberg, but it might mean I have to buy another crank and they take a long time to be delivered.”
Hopefully the outcome won’t mean that Rikard has to skip a number of meetings and that he remains a strong challenger for the championship (and his own personal goal of a five second pass after coming so close last year).
FIM-E Super Twin Bike
Martijn de Haas
Super Twin had a number of withdrawals after explosive incidents in qualifying, with Ronny Aasen barely getting off the line before the bottom end failed on Ton and Vincent Pels’ supercharged Zodiac entry, Petr Ceska blowing his only motor on a slowing eight-second pass and class rookie (but reigning Pro Stock Bike champion) Gertjan Laseur torching a head on his final qualifying effort.
Laseur’s Dutch compatriot Martijn de Haas qualified low with a 6.878/199.76 closely followed by Czech star Roman Sixta on a 6.891/206.12, with French debutant Bruno Salesse getting a handle on the ex-Job Heezen and ex-Lo Stauble championship winning ride. In the only round of eliminations, Sixta defeated Salesse with a seven zero, whilst de Haas rode out a shaking launch to set class low ET with a 6.721/206.03.
FIM-E Pro Stock Bike
The stocker cycles had a bumper twelve entries trying to make the cut, with Fredrik Fredlund taking it cautiously on his currently unsponsored Suzuki but still ending up on top with a 7.031/189.00.
Åkersberga’s Kenneth Holmberg bounced back from a broken connecting rod wiping out his primary engine in the first qualifying session to end up in 3rd with a 7.289/179.16 to sit just behind Charly Abraham’s 7.286/171.73 on his first event in the seat of the ex-Laseur Buell. Again, only one round of eliminations was completed, with Fredlund progressing past Denmark’s Fredrik Schack’s 7.621/169.18 with a 7.062/188.13.
FIA Pro Modified
The combined FIA and MSA Pro Modified category saw the arrival of multi-time FIA Pro Stock Champion Jimmy Ålund behind the wheel of the Old 51 Chevy, and the change in class didn’t prevent the Swede from coming out on top in qualifying with a 6.018/235.30 blast. (Ivan Sansom photo)
This set up a first-round match up with perennial crowd favourite Freddie Fagerström who Ålund defeated with a 6.056 at 232.87 mph run and then taking out Britain’s Bobby Wallace with a 5.961/236.11 to Wallace’s new personal best at 6.228/226.90. (Pro Mod being the sole category to complete two rounds of eliminations). The semi-finals would have seen Ålund against Swiss driver Marcus Hilt and reigning champion Micke Gullqvist against David Vegter.
FIA Pro Stock
Seven Swedes made the haul to contest the FIA Pro Stock bracket, with last season’s runner-up Bengt Ljundahl low with a 6.579/209.04 and a bit of distance between the VP Racing Fuels Camaro and Thomas Lindstrom in second spot with a 6.669/206.06 from the Street & Strip Magazine-backed Stratus. Ljundahl, Michael Malmgren, Lindstrom and Simon Gustafsson were due to contest the semifinals, although Gustafsson blew his motor in recording a massive holeshot victory over Stefan Ernryd and would have handed Lindstrom a bye into the fi-nal.
FIA Top Methanol
For 2017 read 1997 as concern over low car counts has led the powers that be to recombine the alcohol classes two decades after they were split. Quite how this is going to work with a handicapped tree (0.26s on the tree in favour of the floppers) isn’t yet clear as only Steph Milam was in competition with a short car alongside four rails.
The Habermann brothers topped out the qualifying sheets with Dennis at 5.424/266.71 and Timo close behind with a 5.484/265.09 (the German pair also managed to produce noteworthy side-by-side 5.5269s in the second session at 259 mph). Milam defeated Jonny Lagg in the first round of eliminations, with Timo progressing at the expense of Rod Harrison and Dennis taking a competition bye, but that was as far is the ladder progressed.
The FIA European Drag Racing season had its traditional opener over the Whit Bank Holiday at Santa Pod Raceway, with hot conditions for much of the qualifying days, before cooler and eventually very damp conditions curtailed eliminations before the semi-finals were com-pleted. A general sighter for rain at the track over the past 50 years is the visibility of the trees that are someway beyond the end of the shutdown area. New for this year are the three 400-foot-high wind turbines and we have now learnt that when they disappear into the gloom it is time to run from the torrential downpour that will follow.
FIA Top Fuel Dragster
Following on from his low qualifying effort at the Euro Finals last September, Britain’s Liam Jones led the way again in FIA Top Fuel, improving his personal best over the 1,000-foot distance with a 3.975/301.79mph that got a little loose at the finish line: “I wasn’t backing off for anything at that point as I knew it was quick.”
The only round of eliminations to be completed for the fearsome 10,000 horsepower monsters saw Jones progress on a competition solo due to the seven-car field with a 4.479/184.23 early shut off and a brief flash of flame from the Arxell.com/Rune Fjeld Motorsport dragster.
Jones would have been joined in the semis by two RFM teammates in the shape of Finland’s Antti Horto, who recorded his PB with a 3.974/297.60 to take out Sweden’s Micke Kågered’s 4.322/205.17, and Duncan Micallef, the Malteser also in the threes with a 3.997/302.83 to defeat 2016’s champion Anita Mäkelä’s 4.037/297.82 in the tightest match of the first round.
Denmark’s Stig Neergaard rounded out the final four with a 4.163/272.68 to illuminate the win light ahead of Urs Erbacher’s 4.548/192.13.
Jones now takes a slender points lead to the second event on the tour in Sweden in a couple of weeks.
VOLUME XIX, NUMBER 6 - JUNE 2017
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ET DRAG RACING
NEWS & ANALYSIS
BACK TO TOP
There was more of a tinge of sadness to the meeting when Al O’Connor in his eponymous Al’s Gasser and in his fifth decade of racing with the world famous Pop darted left, rolled and smacked the retaining wall hard in at the finish line. Hopefully Al will be back, he was in surprisingly good spirits afterwards, but the Gasser has almost certainly seen the last of its racing days.
FIA/FIM-E 2017 Championship dates
15th – 18th June Tierp Internationals, Tierp Arena, Sweden [FIA]
29th June – 2nd July FHRA Nitro Nationals, Alastaro, Finland [FIA]
18th – 20th August NitrOlympX, Hockenheimring, Germany [FIA+FIM-E]
24th – 27th August Scandinavian Internationals, Tierp Arena, Sweden [FIA]
7th – 10th September Euro Finals, Santa Pod Raceway, UK [FIA+FIM-E]