event: 2015 FIM European Championship - Main Event
where: Santa Pod Raceway, UK
Streetbikes Dazzle at Main Event
story and photos by Steven Moxley
Members of Brian Johnson's family during a memorial for the late racer
The opening round of the three round European FIM Championship series kicked off at Santa Pod Raceway in front of a huge crowd. They turned out to witness some record-breaking performances, especially in Super Street Bike. Many riders set personal best figures over the four-day event.
Racers gather for the Johnson memorial
Before the start of the bike eliminations on Monday there was a minute of silence for legend UK rider Brian Johnson, who recently passed away. There were members of Johnson’s family at the track and two of his bikes that were competing at the event were bought onto the track. All the riders competing in the four FIM classes stood by the bikes for the ceremony.
Another view of the Johnson memorial
Top Fuel Bike
Ian King (near lane)
Ian King did some test runs the day before the event started and ran 236 mph on one pass. The European record is 233.36. In the first qualifying session he ran 6.010 with a personal best of 237.62. Then in the third session Ian recorded figures of 5.830 (p/b) at 232.52 for Top Fuel #1 qualifier.
Rikard Gustafsson still hasn’t finished building his Top Fuel Bike, so he brought his Funnybike over to the Pod and ran a superb 6.388 at 215.84. Steve Woollatt struggled with his fuel set-up and managed to find one with a last ditch attempt 6.602-197.97. Filippos Papafilippou had issues with his clutch and management system and ran a best of 6.632-203.48. Rene Van Den Berg melted a skull in the cylinder head after running 7.171-198.11 and was out of the show. Nick Milburn was competing in his first FIM event and ran a personal best of 7.184-185.07.
Memorial to Johnson on Knebl's fairing
It was going to be an emotional weekend for Otto Knebl after the recent death of Johnson, and many fans wanting to see the bike that Johnson built and raced. Knebl had some handling issues but qualified with a 7.247 at 195.35.
Bob Brooks qualified with a best of 7.800 but had transmission problems, and a piece of spark plug got under a valve. There was no damage, but then the fuel pump failed and he was out of the show.
King and Papafilippou had bye runs to the semis. Milburn also had a bye when Woollatt broke. So the only race in the opening round saw Gustafsson beat Knebl, who drifted out the groove at mid-track, 6.566-210.87 to 7.889-156.29.
Filippos Papafilippou smokes one
Papafilippou got out the gate first and King charged after him, but the rear tyre smoked at the 250 foot mark and Papafilippou was gone—taking the win 6.759-199.00 to 8.613-106mph. Milburn was still in the pits working on his motor when Gustafsson staged and soloed to the final with a 6.659 at 201.51.
Rikard "Balls Deep" Gustafsson
So two Funnybikes in the final and what a bizarre final it turned out to be. On the green light, Papafilippou launched and then a huge flame shot out from the carbs and the bike stopped at the 100 foot mark. Meanwhile, Gustafsson had struggled to find a gear when staged and eventually found a gear and slowly went down the track and waved to Papafilippou as he went by him to win the opening round.
Martijn De Haas
A small field of four SuperTwin bikes entered the event, which Martijn De Haas dominated. He was the only SuperTwin rider to run in the 6- second bracket, qualifying in number one spot with a 6.735 at 208.04 mph.
Job Heezen has had fitted a 2-in-1 exhaust and changed the injectors on his bike. He had some handling issues at the first two qualifiers and then ran a 7.397 at 202.55.
Former champion Ronny Aasen, riding the Zodiac bike, has now fitted CP Pistons and Total Seal piston rings to cure the problems they had last year. But the problem is still there, and Ronny ran 11.203. The team stripped down the motor once again.
Roman Sixta has purchase the beautiful ex-John Beckenrich bike. Sixta missed the opening qualifying session and in the second only made it 200 feet mark when the motor went bang and the bottom end blew. Sixta was out of the show.
De Haas ran 6.627-210.82 on a bye run to the final. In the other semi-final, Aasen was ahead till the 1000ft mark and then slowed with smoke coming out of the motor, Heezen powered pass to take the winlight 7.365-197.96 to 7.579-135.67.
Heezen hurt a con rod but got everything back together for the final, where De Hass turned the wick up and ran a personal best of 6.605 at 212.81 to take the win. Heezen ran 7.353 at 205.24.
Pro Stock Bike
Pro Stock racer Karl-Heinz Weikum went to Paul Gast’s Grand Island, New York shop over the winter break and had his two motors rebuilt. For this event, Weikum fitted the small motor (1655cc) and ran a personal best of 7.056 at 188.90 to qualify in the number one spot.
Karl-Heinz Weikum spent some time at Fast by Gast
Fredrik Fredlund suffered traction problems and fitted a new tyre before qualifying with a 7.077 at 187.43. Gert-Jan Lanseur has new cylinder heads and CP Pistons, but broke a con rod and crankshaft after running a personal best of 7.146 at 180.64 and was out of the competition.
Kenneth Holmberg continued his good form of last season and ran a personal best ever of 7.276 at 184.37. ACU Pro Stock Bike Champion Alex Hope was close behind with a 7.298-181.40, but at the expense of a broken valve on his big motor (1755cc) so the small motor (1655cc) was fitted or the rest of the event.
Martin Bishop damaged two clutch packs on the test day before the event started. Then in the opening qualifying session he damaged a crankshaft and piston. Bishop then went back to his workshop, collected parts, and built his 1640cc motor at the track till 2:00 am Sunday morning. Then he ran 7.397-179.24 to qualify for the field.
Len Paget built a motor for the event and ran 7.616-170.45. Allan Davies ran a personal best 7.625 at 169.16 on Richard Gipp’s pro stocker. He ran a 175.07 personal best with a slower time in the first qualifying session. But they found teeth had broken off on the gears of the oil pump and he was out of the show.
Martin Newbury's sweet new TL1000
Martin Newbury debuted the new bike he built, which has a Freddie Camarena motor with a 6-speed gearbox. On the final run, Newbury ran 7.695 at only 152.15mph.
Mark Smith had a new Warpspeed 1640cc motor in the frame and qualified with a 7.707-172.99, but broke a crankshaft on the next pass. Ray Debben was the last qualifier with an 8.211 at 153.16.
Debben came in as second alternate for Davies to face Weikum. Debben put a holeshot over Weikum who then powered around to take the win 7.256 to Debben’s 8.312.
Holmberg wasted a new personal best of 7.157-184.36 with a -0017 redlight against Hope. Paget redlit against Fredlund and Bishop led from start to finish over first alternate Newbury, who was in for Laseur.
Alex Hope runner-upped with a personal best
The best race of the day saw Hope put a big .010 to .150 holeshot over Weikum and hold on the take the winlight with a 7.320 at 180.61 to a quicker-but-losing 7.236-186.64. Fredlund ran a 7.048 low ET and 189.01 top speed of the meeting to beat Bishop’s 7.549-167.28.
Hope once again got out the gate first (.017 to .047) in the final, but Fredlund powered around to take the win 7.202 at 186.66 to Hope’s personal best of 7.255.
Super Street Bike
Garry Bowe (near lane) and Steve Venables run Europe's first side-by-side 7.1 second pass
Super Street Bike racers were the stars of the event, with the ET record reset four times during the event. In the first qualifying session the crowd witness the first side-by-side 7.1 second pass in Europe. Steve Venables ran 7.184 at 205.16 (p/b speed) on the DME bike against Garry Bowe’s 7.185-198.10, both under the ET record.
Second session saw Dave Holland run 7.095 at 202.51. Then Venables made the last run of the session and set the ET record with a back up run of 7.195.
Third session saw Holland run 7.155 to take the ET record from Venables and then on the final pass of the day, Holland resets the record again with a 7.068 at 205.19 to top the field.
Bowe finished in the number 2 spot with a 7.170. Steve Venables was just behind with a 7.184. In fourth spot was Pete Field’s 7.220-201.47. Richard Stubbins ran a personal best 7.307 on his new bike for fifth. Another rider to record a p/b was Richard Hann with a 7.336, as was Mogens Lund who ran a p/b of 7.43 in testing and then qualified with 7.448-192.13, just edging Daniel Lencses’ 7.452-184.37 for seventh spot.
Making his first appearance of the year was Danny Cockerill, still pulling wheelies at mid-track to a 7.485 at196.30. Jemma Venables was having fuel issues so the team had to re-map the system. Jemma did a 1.215 second 60 foot and qualified with a 7.625-188.15.
Mark Wells had moved his fuel tank and had help from Peter Grancia for the weekend, running 7.696-188.06. Erich Gruber was getting quicker with every run and had a best of 7.827-184.34.
Sandro Haldimann fitted a datalogger and an MTC slider clutch to the bike and rewired it. On Wednesday he had the bike on the dyno in Colchester testing the motor with E85 fuel. In the first qualifying session at Santa Pod he ran his first seven-second pass, a 7.901-182.82 (p/b speed). Then a conrod broke in the motor on a later pass and he was out of the show.
Graham Dance had a fuel issue and clutch problem, running a best of 8.228 at 174.40. Knut Moeller had an electrical problem and a broken gear sensor, managing a time of 8.501-164.25. Peter Adorjan was making his visit to Santa Pod on his self-built bike. He was looking for a baseline for his lock-up clutch and suffered traction problems, going 9.911-146.65.
In round 1 of eliminations, Lencses suffered two wheelies at 100 to 200 feet and that allowed Cockerill to take the win. Stubbins beat Gruber, who pulled a wheelie at the 200ft mark. Jemma Venables ran a jaw-dropping personal best of 7.301-199.90 to beat Lund. Wells ran a p/b 7.624 but couldn’t stop Hann going to the next round. Steve Venables, Field, and Bowe all had byes. Holland also had a bye run and ran 7.038-207.90 to reset the ET record once again and was too fast to set a speed record (record is 206.05mph).
Round 2 saw the exit of Holland who was pushing for the speed record and had a huge wheelie at the 1/8 mile, hurting his throttle wrist when the bike came down. Cockerill powered past to take the win.
Field redlit against Stubbins, who ran a p/b speed 197.07. Bowe ran a p/b of 7.129 to beat Jemma’s 7.327. Hann pulled two wheelies at mid-track and lost to Steve Venables 7.164 to 7.612.
Cockerill put a holeshot on Stubbins in the semis, who ran jaw dropping personal best figures of 7.113-201.46 (first 200mph plus) to drive around. Great race in the other semifinal with Venables taking a holeshot win over Bowe, 7.184 to a quicker but losing 7.161.
The final was decided on the start line when Venables pulled a redlight and Stubbins won an event for the first time since Hungary 2012.
Rocket rider Eric Teboul
Eric Teboul did some demo runs on his Rocket Bike Saturday, going 5.541 at 245.08 mph. On Monday he ran 5.545-253.11mph.
At the same weekend as the Main Event, NAST was racing at Shakespeare County Raceway. Gas competition was won by Chris Mott’s 9.37, beating Robbie Dobbie’s 10.68 in the final. Former ET Bracket champion Peter Harrison beat Carey Wadey in the final, 11.06 on a 10.95 dial in to Wadey’s 10.43 (10.41). Wadey leads the series.
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