VOLUME XXI,  NUMBER 6 - JUNE,  2019

race reports

FIA/FIM-E European championship, Main Event, Santa Pod Raceway

 

Mäkelä re-sets records to start season

Words and photos by: Ivan Sansom & Rose Hughes

Thanks to SPR Timing Crew for access to the timing data

Kevin Kent has a bit of promotion for the track on his car.

 

The season opener May 24-27 for the European Drag Racing series pulled in strong fields for the bulk of the championship classes with the level of competition suggesting 2019 could well be a banner year for the sport.

 

FIA Top Fuel

Liam Jones

 

Anita Mäkelä 

 

The headlining FIA Top Fuel Dragster class brought in eight entries, with an even gender balance attracting considerable pre-event publicity. During qualifying Brit Liam Jones initially reset the track record with a 3.8870/311.18 before reigning class champion Anita Mäkelä took over the top spot with a 3.8703/311.38.

 

The quarter-finals opened with Jones progressing with a 3.891/311.18 win for the CBD team over a returning Tethys who cranked out a new personal best of 4.037/281.12 from the Mustardbet rent-a-ride from the Urs Erbacher stable.

Jndia Erbacher 

 

Erbacher’s daughter Jndia defeated another returnee in the shape of Susanne Callin in the opening round, with Maja Udtian (4.072) taking out Stig Neergaard and Mäkelä dispatching Micke Kågered at the same stage.

 

The semifinal stage had Jones again setting low ET of the round with a 3.940/305.25, but disqualified himself by hitting the loud pedal a mere 0.028-second before the green light appeared on the tree, handing Udtian a free pass to the final. With a degree of inevitability, the Norwegian’s opponent would be Mäkelä whose 4.008/300.79 run handily covered a flaming losing effort from Erbacher.

Maja Udtian 

 

Udtian’s RFM team had a major thrash to make the call for the final which unfortunately came to naught as reserve gear appeared when in pre-stage whilst Mäkelä fired a very impressive shot with a 3.842/296.72 to take the event win (following on from the last two events in 2018) and reset her own European elapsed time record (again a feat she achieved in the last two events of 2018) into the bargain. The rest of the field may well be expressing some concern as the comparatively low terminal speed suggests Anita has the capability of quicker times ahead.

FIA/Motorsport UK Pro Modified

David Vegter 

 

The FIA/Motorsport UK Pro Modified entry list demonstrated the continent-wide flavor of the European series and it was a quick field too with a 6.299-second run or quicker needed to make the 16 car raceday eliminator that was led by David Vegter with a 5.8046. Indeed, qualifying was something to warm the hearts of the Dutch in attendance with Vegter’s compatriots Michel Tooren (5.9346) and Marck Harteveld (5.9569) recorded their PBs to qualify in 7th and 8th respectively.

Mats Eriksson 

 

As these qualifying positions suggest, it took a lot to get into the top half of the field with Jan Ericsson (5.8448), Andreas Arthursson (5.8656) and Jimmy Ålund (5.8673) completing the top four, followed by Roger Johansson (5.9105), Micke Gullqvist (5.9171), the aforementioned Dutch pair, Mats Eriksson (5.9777 for 9th) and Kim Kristiansen (5.9795) to round out the ten five second runners. Some of those that weren’t around for race day had a bit of a rough time, with Marcus Perman, Bert Englefield and Norbert Kuno all having intersections with the wall at various points down track, while Dmitry Samorukov managed to avoid a serious impact with the wall in the last session and came in as alternate for Englefield. The Russian might have regretted doing so as his first round match up with Johansson ended up with Samorukov making like the Chelyabinsk meteor and fireballing down the shutdown area. Arthursson (5.819), Ericsson (5.875) and Ålund (5.881) were the performance leaders coming out of the opening eliminator, whilst the quarters had Vegter as a no show due to an oil leak and Ericsson (5.853) and Ålund (5.877) maintaining their performance advantage to secure spots in the semis.

However, it was the remaining two Swedish veterans staged for the event win with Gullqvist (shown) recording his best numbers of the weekend with a 5.835/245.03 taking the trophy over compatriot Mats Eriksson who left way too early to earn a disqualification.

 

FIA Pro Stock

Michael Malmgren 

 

Another FIA event crown was also heading to Sweden no matter what happened in the six car Pro Stock field. Michael Malmgren secured the low qualifying spot with a 6.5730/210.12 from his GXP whilst Ålund nestled behind with a 6.5758/211.84, followed by Bengt Ljungdahl (6.6118), Robin Nóren (6.6423), Stefan Ernryd (6.6655) and Simon Gustafsson (6.9396). Come the semifinals Malmgren had a bye into the final after besting Gustafsson in the opening round, with Ålund and Ljungdahl matching up after quarter-final victories over Ernryd and Nóren respectively. In what could have been a classic match-up Ljungdahl left substantially early leaving a cherry on the tree whilst Ålund pushed the clutch in after hitting shake.

The shake bug also hit Malmgren in the final and a step out of shape caused him to lift and hand the Summit Racing team a first victory (with a 6.596/209.95) of the season in which Ålund (shown) is taking aim at both FIA tin top championships.

FIA Top Methanol

Only a trio of entries for Top Methanol (although we understand numbers will pick up later in the season) but a pretty impression threesome it was. Sandro Bellio (shown) cracked off a 5.5295/259.65 to lead qualifying in the newly luminous Bellio family Funny Car (the floppers carrying a 0.22s ET reduction) from Jonny Lagg with new sponsorship from NGK and a new PB from the A/Fuel car at 5.3106/264.23 and a returning Monty Bugeja with a 5.3607/265.08 for the Maltesers. Severe tire shake rattled Lagg to a 5.790/251.87 loss to Bugeja’s 5.505/262.65 in the all rail match up, and then Bellio’s 5.533/253.80 took the event win over Bugeja’s 5.451/268.24, the latter’s tardy reaction time possibly being a result of his first competition pairing with a handicap on the tree.

 

FIM-E Top Fuel Bike

Whilst a significant proportion of the rest of the Top Fuel Bike field were embarking on new approaches for 2019 (including last year’s champion Fil Papafilippou going direct drive with the Gulf Oil fueler and Dale Leeks moving from nitrous PXM to a turbo setup) and others having a somewhat ragged time during qualifying (ragged being very much the appearance of the engine cases for Rene van den Berg and Steve Woollatt to put them out of contention for the rest of the weekend, it was down to a returning Rikard Gustafsson (shown) to set the bar for the class over the weekend. The Swede was showing little sign of the off in Germany last year after intensive care for both rider and bike, and a string of quick passes in qualifying culminated in a 5.8361/234.97 for low qualifying spot. Gustafsson continued in a similar theme through eliminations, knocking off Stuart Crane and Papafilippou (in a 5.9120/233.75 to 6.1759/205.33 match) before outrunning Glenn Borg with a 5.9555/242.54 to Borg’s 6.9074/201.58 from his Funny Bike. 

 

FIM-E Super Twin Bike

Super Twin qualifying was dominated by Marcus Christiansen (shown) who carried all before him last year to secure the FIM-E title and Samu Kemppainen, the Finn returning to European competition after a couple of seasons concentrating on local issues. Christiansen sat on top of the heap with a 6.3867/215.10 whilst Kemppainen carded a 6.5527/214.90 best over the four sessions. Eliminations followed the form book with Christiansen and Kemppainen in the mid sixes through the quarter- and semifinals (Kemppainen running his quickest of the event with a 6.526/216.89) to face off for the event trophy. The final turned into a bit of a non-event as Kemppainen’s ride just stopped at the hit of the throttle whilst Christiansen rumbled to a 6.505/215.13 to add to the Dane’s rapidly increasing collection of FIM-E silverware.

 

FIM-E Pro Stock Bike

A returning Fredrik Fredlund was looking to add to his six championships and a 7.1165/188.19 to head the field after the second session suggested things were on track, but a smashed gearbox locked his Suzuki up whilst looking to improve in the next session and put the Ålander out for the weekend. Finnish fellow traveler Janne Koskinen (shown) picked up the pieces in eliminations, clocking a new PB of 7.125/184.32 in the semi-finals and soloing to his first FIM-E event win with a 7.233/185.01 when scheduled opponent Martin Bishop was a no-show.

 

FIM-E Super Street Bike

Having already opened their season in Hungary at the start of May (notables from there included Steve Venables (shown) running the first six in class at Kunmadaras and Alex Hope taking his first FIM-E Super Street Bike event trophy after moving over from Pro Stock), the Main Event saw a substantially oversubscribed field headed by Venables with a 6.8766/201.55 that was alongside Mogens Lund’s 6.9642/209.13 for the quickest pairing in FIM-E history. The top half of the ladder went largely to script and delivered Venables into the final where he would face Austria’s Erich Grüber who had made his way through the lower half of the field from 15th spot on the ladder. Ven wrung out a new FIM-E record with a 6.854/213.90 from his D.M.E. Hayabusa to draw a line under Grüber’s dream weekend. 

 

FIM-E Junior Dragbike Cup

The Juniors season opener attracted four UK entries, with 2018 Cup holder Meggie Talbot qualifying closest to her index, with Blade Dummer (shown) second and Casey and Liam Holgate third and fourth respectively. We’re not too sure what happened with Dummer’s new ride between qualifying and eliminations, but it added four seconds to his dial-in overnight which might have thrown others a bit of a curveball. However, a first-round win over Holgate (L) and a breakout from in the final Meg give him an early lead in the points.

 

FIA/FIM-E Calendar

June 6-9: Tierp Internationals, Tierp Arena, Sweden

July 5-7: FHRA Nitro Nationals, Kauhava, Finland

August 16-18: NitrOlympX, Hockenheimring, Germany

September 5-8: European Finals, Santa Pod, UK  

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