event: 2016 European FIM and FIA Championships—The European Finals
where: Santa Pod Raceway, UK
Euro Finals at Santa Pod
story and photos by Steven Moxley
Top Fuel champion Anita Makela
Championships in all four classes were decided in the final races of the final event of the 2016 European FIM Championships.
Rain washed out qualifying on Saturday and Friday faced a headwind. There was a huge crowd for Friday night qualifying and on race day were there were reports of a 5 mile queue to get into the track. Some spectators and staff left their cars by the roadside and walked to the track.
There was a minute silence for Leif Larsson, who was killed in an accident on his way home after competing in the Scandinavian International at Tierp in Sweden.
Top Fuel Bike
European FIM Top Fuel Bike Champion Ian King
Reigning Champion Ian King held a slender points lead going into the final round of the European FIM Top Fuel Bike Championship. With Rene Van Den Berg and Rikard Gustafsson tied for second place, these were the only riders who could win the championship.
Rene Van Den Berg
Van Den Berg ran a personal best of 6.153 at 229.34 mph in qualifying. King was second with 6.250-182.02. Gustafsson was next at 6.590-155.76. The only other rider in the six-second zone was Filippos Papafilippou with a 6.872-198.90.
Otto Knebl had handling issues on both runs at the 1000 foot mark and ran 7.134 at 170.45—his best run in 2016. Lorcan Parnell ran 7.399 at 174.40 but damaged a couple of valves and the cylinder head and was out of the show. Stuart Crane fitted a new exhaust system, which he had built, and ran 7.406-176.43. Glenn Borg was on the bump spot at 7.870-170.46.
Outside the field was Steve Woollatt, who suffered traction problems and ran a best of 12.385.
Rules are a Funny Bike rider has to have recorded a 6.99 or quicker pass on a Funny Bike to qualify for FIM Top Fuel Bike class.
Phil Crossley ran a personal best 7.261. Bob Brooks made his first appearance of the year after a lot of work on the bike, running 7.393 but hurting an exhaust valve. Dale Leeks had his transmission rebuilt by Paul Gast and ran 7.55. Super Street Bike rider Chris Reed was riding Richard Gipp’s Funny Bike for the first time and was burning up clutches on nearly every pass in testing, posting a 7.66.
Borg broke on the start line against Van Den Berg in round one of eliminations and Rene was through to the next round. Papafilippou had a bye and ran 6.765-198.79.
There was a shock in the next race. Crane put a .152 to .264 holeshot on King, who then chased after Crane but smoked the rear tyre at 200 feet. Ian eased off the throttle then tried again, only to break the teeth on the front sprocket. Crane took the win with a 7.164 at 185.13.
Woollatt was first alternate for Parnell and got out the gate first (.135 to .353) over Gustafsson. Woollatt drifted to the centreline at the 1/8th mile and tried to keep the bike from crossing the line right up to the finishline. Gustafsson ran a p/b of 6.011 at 231.41 to beat Woollatt’s 7.496-119.
Rikard "Balls Deep" Gustafsson
The shocks continued when Papfilippou ended Berg’s championship hopes with a 6.683 at 204.27 to Berg’s 7.746-119. In the other semi, Gustafsson ran 6.022 with a jaw dropping speed of 238.57 to knock out Crane, who ran his best to date on his new bike—7.111-185.81.
All Gustafsson had to do to be champ was win the final against Papafilippou. Filippos put a huge .098 to .466 holeshot over Gustafsson, who charged after Filippos. But at ¾ track there was smoke from the Rikard’s engine (the crankshaft), which slowed Gustafsson and Papafilippou won his first FIM event with a 6.739 and a personal best speed of 206.17 to Gustafsson’s slowing 7.794 at 112.
That result meant Ian King had won his tenth European FIM Top Fuel Bike Championship.
2016 EDRS Pro Nordic champion Samu Kemppainen has dominated SuperTwins in this year’s European FIM Championship, winning the opening two rounds at Santa Pod and Hockenheim. At this event he led qualifying with a 6.608 at 202.46 in the opening session. But that came at the expense of a damaged crankshaft. A phone call to the engine supplier and a person flew from Canada with a new crankshaft and parts in a suitcase, arriving Saturday. The engine was built and fired up late Saturday and ready for race day.
Reigning European FIM SuperTwin champion Martijn De Haas was the only rider who could stop Kemppainen from winning the 2016 championship. After tuning the clutch over the weekend, the team come to the conclusion they need a bigger fuel pump and ran a best of 6.771 at 203.36.
Roman Sixta was running well and qualified in third spot with a 7.012-178.51. Ronny Aasen and the Zodiac team have fitted low compression pistons and changed the tune-up, running 7.268 at 166.69 but hurting a piston. Petr Ceska was still tuning his new set-up and ran a personal best of 8.162 at only 140.33, but damaged his motor and was out of the show. This was Chris “Cannon” Hannam’s final FIM event (for a while at least) and he had some handling issues, running 9.164-109.
There was drama in the opening round of the eliminations. After all the hard work his team did to get the bike to the start line, when Kemppainen came into stage, a fuel pipe burst and dropped fluid on the start line. But it was a good thing the pipe went on the start line and not at mid-track when Kemppainen would be on the wheelie bars. In the other lane, and with a bye in the semi, Cannon was through to his first-ever final.
Chris “Cannon” Hannam
De Haas was to face Ceska and ran a 6.827-202.40 bye. Aasen damaged a pinion gear and Sixta took the win 6.877-198.88.
De Haas had to win the event to retain his title. He put a .074 to .274 holeshot on Sixta and took the winlight with a 6.712 at 209.00 to Sixta’s best run of the weekend—6.858-198.12.
The SuperTwin final between Martijn De Haas and Cannon (far lane)
The title was decided just off the start line when Cannon’s rear cylinder hydrauliced and De Haas stormed down the track with his best run 6.665-211.82 (top speed of the meet) to retain his title.
Pro Stock Bike
There were some new names at the top of the Pro Stock qualifying sheet.
It has been a long time since Martin Bishop was number one qualifier, but he did it at the finals with a 7.466 at 177.12. He was closely followed by newcomer Maurice Bertrand’s 7.487-172.38 and Martin Newbury’s 7.490-172.10—despite Martin not being able to get sixth gear all weekend.
Hockenheim winner Gert-Jan Laseur was the championship points leader coming into the European Finals and was geting some advice over the weekend from Star Racing’s Jackie Bryce. But Laseur had engine issues, qualified with a 7.509-144.82, and changed the motor on Saturday.
Alex Hope had fuel problems over the weekend, qualifying with a 7.538 at 174.35. Len Paget was lacking top end power and ran 7.542-171.12. Mark Smith had an electrical issue and ran a best of 7.838-164.27.
Reigning European FIM Pro Stock Bike champion Fredrik Fredlund had Robert Karlsson and Anders Fosberg crewing for him at the European Finals. In the opening session, Fredlund burnt a clutch on a 21 second pass.
But Fredlund was back on form and beat Bishop in the first round of the eliminations with a 7.000-189.74 to Bishop’s best of the weekend—7.412-179.24. Laseur kept his championship hopes alive by ending Alex Hope’s title challenge 7.194 to 7.349. Smith broke in the burnout and gave Bertrand a bye to the semis. Paget put a holeshot over Newbury but went into tyre shake at 300 feet and Newbury advanced.
Laseur had a wrist pin break, so had to refit the first motor to face Fredlund. Fredlund led from start to finish with a 7.032-188.92. to Laseur’s 7.150-184.38. In the other semi, Newbury ran 7.255 at 179.14 to put Bertrand back on the trailer (7.493-175).
To win the title, Fredlund had to win the event and set an ET and speed record. It was Newbury's first ever final and one he would like to forget, as he redlit. So could Fredlund set both records? The answer was an ET record of 6.978 at 189.72—short of the 190.45 speed record.
Meaning that Gert-Jan Laseur is the 2016 European FIM Pro Stock Bike champion.
Super Street Bike Cup Round 4
Five riders had a mathematical chance of becoming the 2016 European FIM Super Street Bike Cup winner.
Steve Venables led the 16 bike field after Friday’s qualifying with a 7.0751-204.28. Reigning Champion Garry Bowe was next with a 7.136-197.27, having suffered a mis-fire during testing and fitted his number one motor for eliminations. Graham Balchin’s 7.161 just edged Shawn Buttigeg’s 7.165-201.52 (he ran 208 mph at Hockenheim).
Championship points leader Rick Stubbins was next with 7.180-199.97. Pete Field is doing the tune-up of his bike and ran 7.241-195.54. In seventh spot was Daniel Lencses’ 7.294-189.70, just ahead of Richard Hann’s 7.422. Mogens Lund had his fuel tank split in the opening session but posted a 7.458. Graham Dance ran 7.535. Jemma Venables ran a personal best 7.282 in testing, but could not repeat it in qualifying and ran 7.597. Thomas Granica’s title hopes took a knock when he qualified in the 12th spot with a 7.676. Stephen Mead had transmission issues and ran 7.867. Erich Gruber had an intermittent electrical fault and fitted his spare motor in for the eliminations, running 8.064. Mark Wells had transmission issues and a clutch problem, running 8.191. Dave Thomas was on the bump spot with an 8.440.
Steve Venables turned the wick up in round one with a 6.974 to beat Thomas, who improved to 8.080. Lund came from behind and got very close to the centreline at mid-track to beat Hann 7.523 to 8.032. Buttigieg ran a p/b 7.088 to put Mead’s 7.491 on the trailer. Next up were contenders Stubbins and Granica, which saw Stubbins lead from start to finish with a 7.082 to Granica’s best of the weekend 7.415.
Wells pulled a huge wheelie from 30 up to 100 feet mark against Bowe. Dance wheelied off the start line and watched Lencses run a p/b of 7.164. Gruber was another rider having wheelie issue (300 feet) against Balchin’s winning 7.251 to Gruber’s 7.491. Jemma Venables redlit against Field.
Round two saw Steve Venables run a 6.946 to set a new European FIM Championship ET record. Lund in the other lane ran personal best figures of 7.158-202.60.
Stubbins faced another title contender, Buttigieg. They left the start line almost together but Stubbins took the winlight 7.111 at 199.75 to Buttigieg’s losing 7.178-195.55. Next up was Bowe against Lencses and both riders ran personal bests. With Bowe taking the winlight with a 7.011 to Lencses’ 7.138.
Graham "Bouncing" Balchin practicing his levitating skills
It was a bizarre race between Balchin and Field. Balchin redlit and did a huge wheelie, but then Field hit the finishing timing block and was disqualified.
Stubbins faced his third title contender Steve Venables in the first semi-final and. Stubbins was down on pace and Venables took the win 7.032 to 7.686. In the other semi, Balchin pulled a wheelie again at 200 feet and Bowe powered past to win with a 7.026.
The SSB final between DME's Steve Venables and Garry Bowe
The final was the best race of the day with the winner taking the title. Venables got a slight .065 to .081 holeshot, but at the 1000 foot Venables started to do small wheelies and Bowe took the winlight with the quickest side-by-side Super Street Bike race in Europe. Bowe ran his first six-second pass—a 6.980 at 209—to retain his title while Venables ran 7.036-208.
European FIA Championship Round 6
Top Fuel driver Anita Makela held a slender 17 points lead over Stig Neergaard coming into the European Finals. But it was British driver Liam Jones who made the headlines on Friday with his first three-second pass 3.989 at a personal best speed of 306.91 to be number one qualifier. Neergaard was second qualifier 4.084 and Makela fourth 4.549.
Round one and Jones faced Duncan Micallef who qualified with a nine-second pass. Micallef ran a jaw dropping track record of 3 896 at 311.99 (personal best figures) to beat Jones. Makela lost Micallef in the semi-final (another 3.896 for Micallef) and Neergaard also lost in the semi-final to out going champion Micke Kagerad. So Makela was the 2016 European FIA Top Fuel Champion. Kagerad won the event.
Top Methanol Dragster
Jonny Lagg was confirmed the 2016 European FIA Top Methanol Dragster champion before the start of the event, and then he lost to Dave Wilson in the first round of eliminations with tyre shake.
Timo Habermann’s 5.330 just beat his brother Dennis’ 5.430 for the number one spot. The brothers met in the final and put on a great race, with Dennis beating Timo on a holeshot—5.320-268.89 to a losing but quicker 5.305-269.78.
Four drivers could claim the Pro Mod title coming into this event.
Championship points leader and reigning European FIA Pro Mod champion Micke Gullqvist led the field in qualifying with the only five-second pass on Friday, a 5.912. Fourth in points Johan Lindberg was the number 2 qualifier at 6.004. He was followed by Mats Eriksson, who is in third spot in the championship and ran 6.057. Bruno Bader, lying second in the points, qualified with a 6.063.
All four competitors reached the semi-finals. Eriksson had a bye to the final when Lindberg was a no show.
In the other semi, whoever won was the champion. Both drivers got close to the centreline but it was Gullqvist who took the winlight 5.902 to 6.164 to become the 2016 European FIA Pro Mod Champion.
Gullqvist beat Eriksson in the final with his best pass of the weekend 5.889-243.83.
Former champion Jimmy Alund led the small field in qualifying with a 6.612.
Bengt Ljungdahl set a European ET record in the last round of the championship in Sweden with a 6.491. Here he qualified with a best of 6.613.
They met in the final, with Alund already crowned the 2016 European FIA Pro Stock champion. Ljungdahl powered around Alund to take the winlight 6.538 to 6.616.
European Funny Car Series
The 2016 European Funny Car Series Champion Kevin Kent wasted a 4.297 with a personal best speed 287.71 when he redlit in the final against Gordon Smith.
Nostalgia Fuel Car
There was a four-car, UK vs USA showdown at the Finals with three Fuel Altereds and one Funny Car.
During the Friday night session, Randy Bradford broke a couple of con rods, damaged the crankshaft on his Fiat Topolino and was out of the show.
Ron Hope had some issues with an oil pump, got it fixed and ran a best of 7.029 at 214 against Nick Davies’ Fuel Altered’s 6.756-198.00.
Tim Garlick ran 6.072-229.02 in his Funny Car on a bye run and Davies ran personal best figures of 6.280 at 229.04 to beat Hope’s 7.704-150.
Eric Teboul ran 5.252 at 261 mph on his rocket bike on Sunday.
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