race reports

FIA/FIM-E Nitrolympx in Hockenheimring, Germany

European circuits count down to final three events

Words and photos by Ivan Sansom & Rose Hughes

In Super Street Bike Graham Balchin got first FIM-E win since 2012. 


As we head towards the denouement of the 2018 season the racers are confronted with a ferocious schedule of three events over four weekends with the first of this intense swing being the Nitrolympx at the fabled Hockenheimring in Germany. With only patchy clouds to spoil the view, the racing was hot in all of the pro categories, almost as hot as the track temperature although the racing surface held up remarkably well over the course of the event.


FIA Top Fuel Dragster


In previous seasons the Rico Anthes Quartermile has thrown up a few challenges in FIA Top Fuel, but not this time as the assembled nine cars delivered the quickest field in FIA history with Urs Erbacher taking the bump spot with a 4.131.

Liam Jones

Antii Horton


The sharp end of the field was dominated by the RFM trio of Liam Jones (low qualifier with a 3.943/310.77 from the CBD Asylum rail), Duncan Micallef (at 3.946/306.19 with the Bajada New Energy team having to skip a couple of sessions due to a diminishing parts bin) and Eagle Racing’s Antti Horto in third with a 3.966/298.94 although a 311.41mph terminal would stand for top speed of the event and the first time Horto had been over 500kmh.

Second generation racer Jndia Erbacher debuted new Monster Energy sponsorship and put them in fourth spot despite making an aluminum sacrifice in one of the sessions.

Another second-generation racer in the shape of Kenni Neergaard got into the field in the third session with a 4.124 that bumped his fa-ther, Stig, outside of the field and a final session 4.233 wasn’t enough to get back in.


Points leader Anita Mäkelä (4.062) and Swedish veteran Mikael Kågered also in the 4.0s with a 4.091 filled the remaining spots.


It isn’t the first time that Jones has qualified low, but this time he managed to convert it to his first event trophy recording the quickest numbers of each round of eliminations opening with a low ET 3.882/311.41 to defeat Urs Erbacher, a 3.914/309.77 to account for Mäkelä (who had dipped into the 3s with a 3.953 to account for Jndia in the opening round) and a final 3.994/304.53 to deal with Horto’s 4.074, the Eagle Racing Finn having also been into the 3s with a 3.999 to dispatch Kågered and then gained a solo when Neergaard’s mount was a no show for the semifinals (not that much of a surprise given the noises the Eye of the Storm’s motor was making during the warm-up).


FIA Top Fuel

1. Liam Jones (GB)  3.943/310.77 (winner)

2. Duncan Micallef (Malta) 3.946/306.19 (1st round)

3. Antti Horto (Fin)  3.966/298.94 (runner-up)

4. Jndia Erbacher (CH) 4.039/298.21 (1st round)

5. Anita Mäkelä (Fin) 4.062/291.48 (semi-final)

6. Mikael Kågered (Swe) 4.091/264.34  (1st round)

7. Kenni Neergaard (Den) 4.124/242.36  (semi-final)

8. Urs Erbacher (CH)  4.131/266.85  (1st round)

9. Stig Neergaard (Den)  4.233/229.12


Low ET: Jones 3.882

Best TS:  Horto 311.41mph

FIA Pro Modified

Michael “Micke” Gullqvist 


Usually by this point in the season Micke Gullqvist has built up a healthy lead in the points and is in experimental mode during qualifying. This year the multi-time champion hasn’t had it anything like his own way as he was now playing catch-up with Jimmy Alund. Gullan hit the ground running with a pair of 5.97s in the opening sessions before spark problems prevented a further collection of those little qualifying bonus points and when the field was set Alund (a stunning 5.956 coming after smashing the third member and having to install a different gear ratio) and Andy Robinson (a 5.956) had moved ahead and were separated on terminal speed.

Jan Ericsson 


A short 14-car field and a breakage handed Alund a spot in the semi-finals but a tardy and uncharacteristic late leave gave Jan Ericsson his first FIA final round spot since 2015 in FIA Pro Stock in a 6.081 to 5.981 holeshot.


Having a snooze at the tree also accounted for Robinson who lost out to David Vegter whose 6.018 prevailed over a class low ET and top speed 5.923/245.27 for the Brit. Vegter then redlit against, you might have guessed it by now, Gullqvist although a 5.967 could have proved problematic for the Dutch Pedal to the Metal team. With an op-portunity to gain ground in the points Gullqvist was sharp on the tree with a 0.025s RT and strong at the finish line with a 5.976 put-ting him in the winner’s circle over fellow Swede Ericsson’s 6.045.


FIA Pro Stock Car

Robin Noren 


Only four teams headed south from their Nordic stronghold to contest Pro Stock Car. Despite the small field there were quite a few championship ramifications with incoming points leader Stefan Ernryd occupying a comparatively lowly third spot on the ladder and departing in the first round to Bengt Ljungdahl, giving the reigning champion the lead on the way out of Germany.


Ljungdahl lost out on the extra 20 points when he redlit against Rob-in Norén in the final, handing the GTO driver his first FIA event win in his first final round appearance, the opportunity to do so coming after a tight holeshot win with a 0.082 RT to a 0.088 from low quali-fier (at 6.637) Michael Malmgren, putting Norén’s 6.700 ahead of Malmgren’s 6.699.


FIA Top Methanol

Timo Habermann 


The qualified Top Methanol field comprised three dragsters at the top of the sheets (led by the Habermann brothers with Timo taking the top spot with a 5.315) and four funny cars with Sandro Bellio the best of these with a 5.663 (handicapped down to a 5.443) for fourth spot. Both Habermanns would contest the semifinals, with Timo downing Bellio and Dennis taking care of Jonny Lagg (although the Swede hand-ed the spot in the final over with a red-light). Dennis then displayed similar generosity in the final with a cherry on the tree helping his elder brother to a solid points haul to consolidate Timo’s championship lead.


FIM-E Top Fuel Bike

Rikard Gustafsson 


The premier FIM-E class delivered a bundle of good and not so good stories over the course of the weekend. Heading the qualifying sheets with both ends of the track record at 5.918/248.98 was Rikard Gustafsson and the RG Engineering Puma Suzuki, this pass coming alongside a 5.980/226.89 from Filippos Papafilippou in the third qualifying session to record the first side by side fives from fuel bikes outside of the States. Unfortunately, celebrations were cur-tailed by the accident that befell Rikard in the shutdown area that placed him in hospital with a broken arm, ribs and a collapsed lung, although a recent update has the Swede back home in Sweden and al-ready plotting his return to the track.

Fil Papafilippou 

Eric Richard 


Eliminations and Papafilippou and the Gulf Oils team marched to their second event win as a collective, with a 5.956 in the first round of eliminations taking out a lane swapping Glenn Borg and a slippery 6.126 defeating Stuart Crane’s 6.935. Fast Fil was due to face up with an increasingly rapid Eric Richard in the final, but the French-man was a no-show and something went west with the timing system on the Greek’s solo to the trophy and a very healthy lead in the points.


FIM-E Super Twin Bike


Eight bikes provided a full ladder for Super Twin with Marcus Chris-tiansen and the Speedy race team sitting on top of the heap with a 6.477/218.51. The first round of eliminations saw Christian Jager and Roman Sixta killing foam timing blocks handing wins to Christiansen (who clocked a class low 6.408) and Gert-Jan Laseur (who picked up a class PB with a 7.170).

The man from Japan Crazy Tak Shigematsu (shown) also progressed to the semifinals with a 6.849 and Martijn de Haas (6.867) rounding out the final four. Tak defeated a lane crossing Laseur (this was some-thing of a theme over the course of the weekend across many classes) with a 6.868 whilst Christiansen barely dropped a beat in recording a 6.523/221.99 to get past de Haas’ holeshot and a 6.937.

Marcus Christiansen 


Shigematsu got the jump at the startline but fairly swiftly slowed with a fuel leak leaving Christiansen to take his first FIM-E event win after featuring as a runner-up in two of the last three events with a 6.434/222.77. The Dane now heads into the Euro Finals with a nice lead in the championship chase.


FIM-E Pro Stock Bike

Alex Hope  

Karl Heinz Weikum 


Pro Stock Bike had a healthier feel to it than some recent events with ten entries making a shot at the eight-bike ladder. They were headed by Martin Newbury with a 7.162, but it was another British rider that would take the trophy with Alex Hope picking up his second event win (not first as we erroneously informed the Agent) after nailing the tree with a 0.005s RT to hang on ahead of Karl Heinz Weikum in a 7.4 second final. Has Hope done enough to bring home a first championship for the CBD Asylum team at Santa Pod?


FIM-E Super Street Bike


The Hockenheim Super Street Bike field is always a substantial and very multi-national affair and the 2018 edition was no exception with Denmark (Mogens Lund at 7.090 leading the way), Italy, Hungary and Finland represented in the top eight alongside the inevitable heavy British contingent.

Rick Stubbins 


Despite the international flavor, the semifinals became an all-British affair with Rick Stubbins defeating Stephen Mead in a 7.077/204.73 (top speed of the event) to 7.572 match up on the lower half of the ladder, while Graham Balchin occupied the other final round spot defeating Steve Venables with a 7.219 (Venables having produced a 7.037 at the quarter final stage for class low ET). Stubbins had dropped a valve in his semifinal win and with the usual pressure to finish eliminations against a tight local curfew there was no opportunity to replace the motor so Balchin soloed to his first FIM-E win since 2012.


FIM-E Junior Dragbike Cup

It was good to see more competitors joining in the Junior Dragbike Cup with Meggie Talbot qualifying in the number one spot and Germa-ny’s Lorens Bochnig taking the event win over Talbot in eliminations. Meggie now has a big lead as she heads back to home soil at Santa Pod next month. 


Remaining European Rounds

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



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