event: 2017 European FIM and FIA Championships—The Main Event
where: Santa Pod Raceway, UK
It Never Rains in Cali (or Santa Pod)...
...for 3 Days Anyway....
story and photos by Steven Moxley
It was California weather for the first three days of the event with hot and humid (Louisiana?) conditions. Over night rain delayed the start of eliminations come race day and a heavy deluge ended the event early in the evening (5.45pm). Only the first round of the eliminations where completed in Top Fuel Bike, Pro Stock Bike and SuperTwins. Super Street Bike started their second round before rain stopped the event.
Top Fuel Bike
There will be a new Top Fuel champion this year after reigning champ Ian King announced he was racing in the USA this season.
Rikard Gustafsson is the favourite for the title and qualified with a 6.114 at 220.17 mph, but at the expense of a main bearing getting damaged. Rikard’s motor was rebuilt and ready for eliminations.
Filippos Papafilippou led the non-Top Fuel Bikes with his PXM Bike. He had trouble with traction over the first 1/8 on Saturday but ran 6.687-205.34 for number two spot.
Lorcan Parnell was one of six riders to run their best time in the final qualifying session. Parnell had an oil leak problem and then ran 6.871-193.07.
Stuart Crane has a second stage of nitrous fitted for 2017. Crane ran jaw dropping personal best figures of 6.951-188.90 with a 1.03 60 foot.
Rene Van Den Berg
Rene Van Den Berg had a con-rod let go on Saturday qualifying. A new block was fitted and engine rebuilt, and in the final session Berg ran 6.987-216.06.
Funny Bike rider Eric Richard had gear selection problems up to the final session when he ran a personal best of 7.069-185.09. Otto Knebl is hoping for a better season and ran 7.266-155.83 but had some handling issues at the 1000 foot mark over the weekend. Dale Leeks had some clutch and gear shift issues, but it all came good in the final round with a 7.411-176.44.
Otto Knebl and crew
Allan Davies had a major engine rebuild on the days leading up to the event and had help from many people. An electrical issue kept him off his normal pace and in the final session ran 7.455-176.46.
Steve Woollatt suffered clutch and tyre shake and a new rear tyre was fitted. He ran 7.599-130.16.
2016 EDRS Top Fuel Bike Champion Thomas Pettersson last raced here at Santa Pod 12 years ago on a snowmobile. This event he was in test mode with the new engine/gearbox on his ex-Charly Fosberg bike. Pettersson had engine issues and ran 7.634-148.66 in the final session.
There is a rule that the rider has to run 6.99 on a Funny Bike to compete in eliminations, so number six qualifier Eric Richard and number eight Dale Leeks had to drop out, so that made Knebl number six, Woollatt seven and Pettersson on the bump spot.
Pettersson took out the finishline timing blocks on his best run of the weekend 7.026-161.90. Gustafsson ran 6.435 at 233.70—top speed of the meeting—to go into the semis. Papafilippou spun badly at 30 feet against Woollatt, who ran his best of the weekend 6.450-192.22. Knebl beat Parnell, who slowed at mid-track, 7.553-167.28 to 8.510-110.05. Best race of the day saw Crane put a .076 to .164 holeshot over Van Den Berg, who then chased Crane to the finishline taking the winlight 6.543-194.70 to Crane’s 6.973-172.36.
Martijn De Haas
There was a high attrition rate in SuperTwins, which would see half the field out of the competition before eliminations started.
Reigning European FIM SuperTwins Champion Martijn De Haas, going for his third straight title, was the number one qualifier with a 6.878 at 199.76 mph. But he struggled with traction problems.
Roman Sixta had a bush welded to the input shaft, so they had to cut it off and fit an old bush. Sixta ran 6.891-206.12 (top speed of the meet).
Newcomer Bruno Salesse had a fuel pump issue on the first day and then ran a best to date of 8.220-172.39 on the ex-Job Heezen, ex-Lorenz Stauble bike. The bike has run 6.477 with Stauble.
Petr Ceska has been busy with an engine rebuild over the winter with a new engine and fuel set-up with help from Johnny Vickers. He qualified with an 8.670-139.40 but lost oil pressure. The oil Pump had to be rebuilt, but then the starter motor broke and that put him out of the show.
Also out of the show was the 2016 European FIM Pro Stock Bike champion Gert-Jan Laseur, who bought Chris Hannam’s V Twin. He ran a troubled 22 second pass, and then the next pass hydrauliced the rear cylinder.
Ronny Aasen went even less distance—50 feet on his first pass of a new design and built motor. A con-rod let go and the sump dropped out of the motor.
De Haas had a bye when Ceska was a no-show and ran 6.721-206.03. In the other semi, Sixta beat Salesse 7.087 at 204.41 to a troubled 9.918-121.19.
Pro Stock Bike
Having lost some sponsors, Fredrik Fredlund didn’t do all the qualifying sessions but qualified number one in Pro Stock Bike with a 7.031 at 189.00—low ET and top speed.
Newcomer to the class, Charly Abraham, bought Gert-Jan Laseur’s championship winning bike of last season. Abraham edged out Kenneth Holmberg for number two spot with a 7.286-171.73 to Holmberg’s 7.289-179.16. Holmberg damaged his number one motor big time (piston, valves and crankshaft).
Martin Newbury has new pistons fitted for 2017 and had some clutch issues during qualifying, running 7.359-177.84. Alex Hope was riding last year’s bike and had traction problems, fitted a new rear tyre, and ran 7.372 at 178.54. Len Paget was sixth with 7.447-174.36. Martin Bishop had some clutch issues during qualifying and ran 7.451-177.85.
Four times and reigning European Top Gas Champion Fredrik Schack has moved over to Pro Stock Bike riding the ex-Tom Bradford bike, which Serge Pinet has ridden. Schack has done modifications to the cylinder heads and was trying new stuff at the Main Event and was on the bump with a 7.574-169.19.
Outside the show was Serge Pinet, riding the ex-Matt Smith bike that Scotty Pollacheck rode recently. The bike had a Star motor in the frame. Pinet had an air-shift problem and ran a best of 7.750-173.06.
Bertrand Maurice had new bodywork, MSD ignition system and Racepak datalogger on his mount. Unfortunately, the cylinder head got damaged in qualifying with a 9.378.
Mark Smith also suffered bad luck, damaging his number one motor in session one (broken crankshaft). Then an electrical problem, and in the final session an air pipe burst. He ran a best of 11.499.
The final rider was another newcomer to the class, Tonnie Van Den Berg on the ex-Herman Van Driel stocker. Berg suffered clutch slip and only ran 25.725.
E1 winner Alex Hope
In eliminations, Fredlund eased past Schack 7.062 to 7.621. Bishop was a no-show and Abraham soloed to the semis. Holmberg beat Paget 7.225 to 7.382. Newbury had traction problems off the start line against Hope, who ran his best of the weekend—7.324.
Super Street Bike
Rick Stubbins on a roll
Richard Stubbins repaired his number one motor between the Race Rock ‘n Ride meet and the Main Event. He ran 7.097 at 203.23 in the final session for number one spot.
But a few moments later, reigning European FIM Super Street Bike Cup champion Garry Bowe ran 7.061-207.04 to sit on top of the field.
Pete Field ran back-to-back personal bests of 7.14 and 7.112 at 200.66.
Mogens Lund has new bodywork and charge cooler. He damaged a piston and cylinder head in round one at Hungary, fitted a new cylinder head and piston for this meeting, and ran 7.209-200.78.
Robert Nilsson was very close to his personal best with 7.218 (7.215p/b) at 198.02.
Franklyn Borg on Simon Giordmaina's Maltese Monster
Hungary winner Franklyn Borg damaged both sprockets in qualifying in Q2. He then qualified sixth with a 7.221-196.27, just ahead of reigning ACU Super Street Bike Champion Steve Venables’ 7.239-204.41.
Daniel Lencses had a very busy weekend, damaging two motors during qualifying and worked very later Monday morning making one motor out of two. He qualified with a 7.277-191.31.
Graham Balchin was next with a 7.294-173.74, but damaged a bearing in the clutch cannon and was out of the show.
Mathias Bohlin ran back-to-back p/bs in testing before the event—7.392-195.46 and 7.346-196.21. But had traction problems and ran 7.399-189.80 in qualifying.
Anders Blanck had engine problems running 7.427-190.58, and his engine broke when he was warming the motor in the pits on raceday.
Rudi Zorzi was another rider with motor problem and changed it on Friday, qualifying with a 7.445-191.31.
Jemma Venables was next with a 7.739-185.80. Dave Thomas had his best-ever meeting, running his first seven-second pass during testing (Thursday) with a 7.93-177.83 p/b. He qualified with another p/b of 7.820-182.87.
Reigning ACU Comp Bike Champion Eddy Smiley ran a p/b speed 185.89 in testing and ran 7.821 at 179.54, for 15th spot.
Mark Hope, riding his own bike. also ran a p/b 7.834-183.62 for the bump spot.
First alternate was Kristian Jasz, who damaged a motor at the weekend but fitted a spare motor to finish qualifying with a 7.960 at 177.13. Roger Haggblom was appearing at Santa Pod for the first time and had handling and engine issues, which put him out of the show with a 7.977-172.37.
Reigning Nordic Cup Super Comp champion Bianca Nilsson’s weekend didn’t start well. She had a huge wheelie and parted from the bike in testing. The rear of the bike was damaged, so Arvid Gerdtsson loaned his 8.50 bike so Nilsson could compete and she ran a best of 8.905-159.71.
It was an all-Hungarian match to start eliminations as Lencses beat Jasz (first alternate for Balchin) 7.281 with a p/b speed of 198.98 to Jasz’s 7.924-183.53. Lund beat Jemma Venables 7.242 at 197.18 to 7.643-193.87. Zorzi pulled a wheelie at 40 feet and carried to 100 against R. Nilsson, who took the winlight 7.286 to Zorzi’s 7.540.
Smiley did the same as Zorzi in his race against Stubbins, who ran low ET of the round—7.142 to Smiley’s 7.931.
Balchin was helping Thomas, who ran a jaw dropping personal best of 7.765-182.89 against Field, who had traction problem off the start line. Steve Venables knocked out Bohlin, who pulled a wheelie at the 20 feet. Bianca Nilsson—third alternate for Blanck—ran her best time of the weekend, 8.467, against Borg, but it was Borg who went into round two with 7.996. Hope ran personal best figures of 7.655-185.12, but couldn’t stop Bowe’s 7.208-205.15.
Stubbins beat Steve Venables 7.152 to 8.046 to start off round two. There was a shock in the next race with Thomas winning on a holeshot against Borg—7.849 to Borg’s quicker-but-losing 7.798. Bowe had a problem with his gearbox at mid-track and slowed to the finish, losing to Lencses. The race between Lund and Robert Nilsson had two attempts and then the third time, rain came down and ended the event.
European FIA Championship Round 1
Top Fuel Car
Liam Jones ran a personal best in Top Fuel Car qualifying, 3.975 at 301.79, in one of Rune Fjeld’s cars ahead of Reigning European FIA Top Fuel champion Anita Makela 4.006.
Jones had a bye run in the seven car field, and joining him in the semi-finals were his teammates Antti Horto (3.974) who beat Micke Kagered and Duncan Micallef 3.997-302.83 (top speed) beat Makela. Stig Neergaard powered around Urs Erbacher to take the winlight 4.163 to 4.548.
Pro Stock Car
Last year’s Pro Stock Car number two plate Bengt Ljungdahl topped the seven car field with a 6.579-209.04. Robin Noren was on the bump spot at 6.808.
In round one of eliminations, Michael Malmgren beat Magnus Pettersson, who suffered tyre shake. Simon Gustafsson won on a holeshot, 6.817 against Stefan Ernryd’s 6.777. Thomas Lindstrom led from start to finish against Noren, who ran a p/b 6.764. Ljungdahl had a 6.642 bye run.
Due to the low numbers in both Top Methanol Dragster and Top Methanol Funny Car in recent years, 2017 sees both classes racing together with a 0.26s start line advantage given to the Funny Cars.
Dennis Habermann was the number one qualifier with a 5.424-266.71, just ahead of his brother Timo’s 5.484-265.09.
Stephanie Milam was the only Funny Car competing and she raced reigning Top Methanol Dragster champion Jonny Lagg and beat him in round one—6.041 to 6.171. Timo Habermann eased past Rod Harrison 5.515 to 6.307 and Dennis Habermann had a bye run.
Reigning European FIA Pro Stock Car champion Jimmy Alund is racing in Pro Modified this season. He was the number one qualifier with a 6.018-235.30 in the ‘51 Chevy that Johan Lindberg drove last year.
Bruno Bader was Alund’s nearest challenger with a 6.035-232.84. Third was David Vegter at 6.101-235.28 and Kevin Slyfield ran a p/b of 6.150-226.73 for fourth spot. Freddy Fagerstrom in the C10 pick up truck was on the 16 car bump spot with a 6.898.
Truckin' Freddy Fagerstrom
There were personal bests in the eliminations for Bobby Wallace, who ran 6.255 at 221.26 when he beat Andy Robinson. Another p/b for Slyfield, a 6.111-229.06 against Hakan Persson.
Reigning European FIA Pro Modified Champion Micke Gullqvist ran the only five-second pass of the round, 5.933 at 243.69, to defeat Marco Maurischat.
Round two of eliminations saw personal bests for Alund (5.961-236.11) who trailered Wallace’s 6.228-226.90. Slyfield redlit against Marcus Hilt. Gullqvist won a close race with a 5.951-243.80 to Bader’s 6.064-231.61. Vegter beat Wayne Nicholson 6.133-236.41 to 7.117-207.04.
European Nitro Funny Car Series
Newcomer Steve Ashdown led the Nitro Funny Car field with a 4.808-188.16.
Reigning champion Kevin Kent had a bye run in the semis when newcomer Birgitte Bremnes’ motor cut out during her burnout.
Ashdown also had a bye to the final.
MORE EUROPEAN DRAG RACING