events: ACU Championships Round 5, National Finals at Santa Pod Raceway
NAST Round 6 at Shakespeare County Raceway
Ven Goes Like the Wind at Santa Pod
story and photos by Steven Moxley
Weather is always the main variable when racing at England’s Santa Pod Raceway, but conditions were good on raceday for the ACU Championships Round 5/National Finals. National records were set and reset over the two-day meeting and many personal bests were recorded in all classes.
Top Fuel Bike
Only Top Fuel two riders attended the meeting. Steve Woollatt, the 2014 ACU Top Fuel Bike Champion, ran 6.269 at 201mph straight out of the trailer. He clicked off early on that run because his visor misted up, but the datalogger figures show it could have been a 6.10 something pass. Later in the day he had to shut off early due to a damaged piston ending his weekend.
That left only one, sort of. Nick Milburn finally got his Top Fuel license with a 7.592. On Sunday he broke a primary and on the next run a blower belt.
Dave Peters had a cylinder head stud problem (threads) and the team were a little cautious, but the bike still ran 7.297at 178.51 mph to top the Funnybike field in qualifying.
Reigning ACU Comp Bike Champion Lizz McCarthy made her Funnybike debut riding the ex-Dave Bailey bike, which is owned by Richard Gipp. He rented the bike out to McCarthy, who ran 7.629 at 172.40—good enough for number two spot.
Frenchman Eric Richard was back again and had some issues with his transmission, qualifying with a 7.642 at 175.06.
Points Leader Gary Jones had to race against the clock to get his bike to this meeting after damaging his crank, piston and cylinder head at the last round. Days leading up to this event he was waiting for a fuel pump seal kit, which eventually arrived just in time. He qualified with a 7.762 at 186.66—top speed of the meet.
Reigning ACU Funnybike champion Stuart Crane was testing a different fuel and nitrous set up and ran 7.801 at 155.75, with a personal best 60 foot of 1.09.
Stefan Schmidt tested on Friday without nitrous after rebuilding his motor. He qualified with his first ever 7 second pass, a 7.865 at 159.12. But a chain tensioner broke, which put him out of the show.
Hockenheim winner Stefan Hagenstein
Having recently won at Hockenheim, Stefan Hagenstein was hoping for more success. With former owner of the bike Alex Rose tuning the clutch, Hagenstein ran a best of 8.161 at 167.93.
Harold Wolfenden fitted the motor and transmission from his Comp Bike and was happy qualifying with an 8.343 at 171.10, but was hoping for more performance in eliminations.
Pete Le Gros
Pete Le Gros ran a personal best of 8.371at 144.30. This was Le Gros’ debut in competition since getting his license.
Jiri Lukes ran 8.585 at 162.48 ahead of Dale Leeks, who had fitted bigger jets on the nitrous system and was looking for a baseline for the nitrous and fuel systems, running 9.018 at 148.13.
Thomas Joswig had clutch and gear shift problems and ran 9.857. Bob Brooks was another trying to find a combination, running 9.878 at 114.73.
Wolfenden wasted a best-to-date of 8.129 on his new bike in round 1 of eliminations with a redlight against Hagenstein, who also ran a personal best of 8.003 at 168.54.
Leeks did a gate job on Jones and ran 7.924 at 170.44. Jones drifted to the wall at the finish and still took the win with a 7.349 at 153.17.
Lizz McCarthy made her Funnybike debut!
It was all Crane from start to finish in his race against Lukes, with Crane running 7.308 at 174.37 to Lukes’ losing 8.470 at 160.17. McCarthy had problems staging when her foot came off the footpeg, jammed between the peg and tarmac, and rolled before the tree was activated, leaving Brooks to take the win.
There was more drama in the next race when both Joswig and Richard broke at mid-track and free-wheeled to the finish, which ended in Joswig’s favour. Le Gros had a bye and ran 8.375 at 149.07.
There was a shock in the second round when Peters broke off the start line and Hagenstein ran another 8.009 at 166.06.
Everyone was looking at the next pair with Jones up against Crane. Could we see side-by-side 7.3s or 7.2s? The answer came at 200 feet with Crane slowing and Jones going to the semis.
Brooks had a bye and there was a close race in the last pair. Joswig led up to the halfway mark and then Le Gros took the lead at the 1000 foot. He then lost some power (fuel set-up) and Joswig raced past to take the win 8.576 to 8.782.
Hagenstein put a small .093 to .101 holeshot on Jones in the semis. Jones had his front wheel shaking at the 60 foot mark as he tried to catch Hagenstein, who ran his first 7 second pass with a 7.990 to reach his first ACU final.
In the other semifinal, Brooks led till mid-track, then drifted out of the groove. He was leaning over and eased off the throttle to stay away from the wall. Joswig took the winlight and was in his first ACU final also.
Joswig vs. Hagenstein
In the first all-German Funnybike final, Joswig had a better reaction on the start but Hagenstein powered around to win his first ACU event 8.074 to 10.105.
Pro Stock Bike
Alex Hope's sharp TL1000
Alex Hope did some testing on Friday day before the event to sort out the ignition problems they had at the European Finals. With a new MSD system bolted on, Hope ran a personal best of 7.38 at 182mph. In Pro Stock qualifying he went even quicker and qualified number 1 with a 7.330 at 177.80.
Len Paget ran a best of 7.723-169.80. Making his first appearance of the year, Ray Debben had electrical gremlins in qualifying and ran a troubled 12.727.
Hope had a bye in the round 1/semis and ran another personal best of 7.322 at 184.30 to reach his first ACU Final.
It was a close race between Paget and Debben. Paget came from behind to beat Debben 7.785 to 8.060 but then Paget’s engine let go big time in the shutdown area. Paget was out and Hope had another bye in the final, where he ran another p/b 7.271 at 183.54—much to the delight of his happy father Chris.
Coming through the gates of Santa Pod, the Comp Bike championship was tied on points at the top between Allan Davies and Phil Crossley. And there was not a lot between them at the end of qualifying, with Davies just edging Crossley 7.604 with p/b speed of 176.45. Crossley ran 7.608 at 171.77. Davies has had two new valve seats repaired in his cylinder head.
Kevin Osman ran 7.96 and 7.910 at a p/b 188 mph. In qualifying he went faster with a 189.71 and qualified with another p/b of 7.819 at 188.98.
Paul Hambridge was fourth with an 8.107 at 159.05. Tony Clark had clutch and fuel issues (pump and carbs) and ran 8.135 at 164.26. Steve Moor had problems and ran a best of 11.426 at 143.38.
Hambridge reached the semifinal when Osman broke at the 200 foot mark in their round 1 pairing.
Crossley had to work for his win with Clark finding his old form again. He pushed Crossley to the finish, with Phil’s 7.753 at 168.51 besting Clark’s 7.911-168.55. Davies eased pass a troubled Moor.
Hambridge wasted an 8.068 when he pulled a redlight against Crossley.
So it was the title contenders in the final and it turned out to be the best race of the day. Davies ran a personal best of 7.512 to take the win to Crossley’s 7.544. Davies now leads the championship.
Super Street Bike
Super Street Bike put on a superb show for everyone at Santa Pod, especially Steve Venables—who raised the bar over the weekend on his DME bike. During qualifying he set a new ACU et record of 7.191, backed up with a 7.220.
Pete Field ran a personal best of 7.225 for the number 2 spot. Graham Balchin had some clutch gremlins in qualifying, going 7.295 at 197.26. Garry Bowe was next with a 7.313 at 200.78. Another rider to run a p/b was Daniel Lencses, going 7.426.
Danny Cockerill changed the rear sprocket and that seemed to control the wheelies Cockerill has been suffering with over the recent meetings. He qualified with a 7.433 at 195.57.
Richard Hann had a good baseline for the clutch, qualifying with a 7.471 and ]hoping for more in eliminations.
Jemma Venables had a bearing fail on the turbocharger during Friday’s test day. The team worked till 10:00pm that night and she qualified with a 7.558 at 191.34.
Chris Reed posted a 7.618, Mark Wells a 7.746, and Erich Gruber the last 7 second runner with a 7.806 at 185.83.
Steve Wood ran 8.498, and Dave Thomas had a regulator issue and got it sorted out to an 8.951. Newcomer Dave Ward was on the bump spot with a 9.070.
Daddy Venables reset the ET record in the opening round of eliminations with 7.142 against Ward. Bowe was next and ran 7.198 at 205.18 against Gruber, and the next round on a bye he backed it up at 203.34 for an ACU speed record.
Wells put a huge .112 to .308 holeshot over Lencses, but wheelied from 30 feet mark till 80, and Lencses was gone with a 7.571 to Wells’ 8.186. Lencses did not show in round two.
Thomas broke on the start line against Field. Hann won with a p/b 7.410 against Jemma Venables’ 7.562. Wood pulled a wheelie at 30feet and rode it to 60 feet, losing against Balchin.
The wheelie problem came back to Cockerill at 50 feet through 80, but he stayed on it and beat Reed with a 7.467 to Pete’s 7.817.
Next round there were byes for S.Venables, Bowe and Hann. Balchin and Cockerill put on a wheelie show for the crowd with Cockerill pulling two big wheelies at mid-track. Balchin took the winlight.
First semifinal saw the two new ACU record holders pairing up. Would we see records reset? Bowe got out the gate first (.103 to .139) against Venables and it was close till 1000 feet, when Bowe wheelied and Venables powered the DME chassis to the finish with a 7.163 to Bowe’s 7.887.
Best race of the day saw Hann put a .082 to .124 holeshot on Balchin, who powered around to take a close win with a 7.260 at 199.87 to Hann’s p/b 7.303 at 198.01.
Steve Venables flying the DME colors to a record-setting performance
So it was an all-Ven Racing final and what we got, nobody was expecting. Venables ran a jaw dropping 7.045—the first 7.0 Super Street Bike pass—at a 205.11 p/b speed, with a 1.20 60 foot time (quickest in Super Street Bike). Balchin ran 7.438 at 197.25. That win and extra points for record means Steve led the championship going into the last round.
NAST Round 6
at Shakespeare County Raceway
The week following the National Finals, the NAST Series had the final round of their series at Shakespeare County Raceway
Dave Smart was once again on Nigel Batsford’s new Buell and qualified in number 1 spot in Gas with a 9.84. Robbie Dobbie was next at 10.01. Tim Boutle was having nitrous problems and ran 14.99. Chris Mott had trouble with his ECU.
Smart ran a best-to-date 9.66 at 136.63 to open eliminations. Dobbie beat Boutle to meet Smart in the final. Smart took his first win of the year with a 9.67 to Dobbie’s 10.16.
2014 NAST Gas Champion Joe Elliott was out on his street bike because he blew the motor on his championship winning gas bike. He was the number 1 qualifier with a 12.890 (dial in 12.88).
Peter Harrison was next with a 10.936 (10.90). Championship leader Kieran Govender was third with a 13.347 (13.30) and Tim Boutle was fourth at 12.97 (12.80). Cary Wadey was back racing for the first time since his shoulder operation and ran 11.022 (10.75).
2014 NAST ET Bracket champion Kieran Govender
Harrison redlit against Boutle to end his title hopes in the opening round of eliminations. Wadey broke out against the 2014 NAST ET Bracket champion Govender.
Elliott had a bye and faced Govender in the semifinals, so it was ET Bracket champion verses the Gas champion and Govender redlit.
Boutle dialed-in 13.01 for the final and broke out by running 12.925 against Elliott’s 12.624 on a 12.60 dial.
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