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At the end of what has proved to be a fraught and troubled season, the European Finals at Santa Pod saw an awful lot of people with smiles on their faces. The weather was just about perfect and the track was tricky but held up well as the temperature rose and delivered up some great side-by-side racing in front of substantial crowds, the only downside being the short entries in many of the Pro fields, a symptom of the tight financial squeeze and the ever increasing costs of getting Nordic competitors across the North Sea.
"The importance of these racers to the European drag racing scene is evidenced by all bar three of the 2012 FIA and UEM European champions coming from Scandinavia and Finland."
Whilst it is highly likely that the two series will have significantly different looks next year, and quite a few teams will be sitting it out unless sponsorship funds (or lottery wins) emerge, the culmination of the FIA and UEM championships left many wishing the 2013 season would start next week rather than having to wait eight months until it starts all over again.
It took until the final meeting of the season, but Anita Mäkelä managed to pick up her first event win since returning from a four-year break in 2008. Although a long time coming, the previous frustrations caused by rainouts when running strong were banished by a 4.025 for second spot in qualifying and round wins over a flaming Stig Neergaard (with a 4.473 slowed by tire slip at the top end) and Antti Horto in a 4.033/293 to 4.175/286 match up. The victory lap proved to be a solo when Risto Poutiainen was shut-off before staging, and a solo was clicked off early after violent tire shake. “Over the season we’ve realized we haven’t got enough wheel speed at the startline, but we started seeing some improvement at Tierp. The nice runs at Santa Pod confirmed we are on the right track, but obviously there is more to do!” With the confidence and advice gained from Donnie Bender who was assisting crew-chief Samu Lehtimäki for this event, Anita and husband Tommi Haapanen go into 2013 with the number three on their spill plate, but will be looking to go one or two steps higher on the podium next year.