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Race Report

FIM-E Main Event, Santa Pod Raceway

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The FIM-E European Drag Racing season had its traditional opener over the Whit Bank Holiday at Santa Pod Raceway, with hot conditions for much of the qualifying days, before cooler and eventually very damp conditions curtailed eliminations before the semi-finals were completed. Whilst the rain ended the fun in the four FIM-E drag bike classes, the event seeing a number of new combinations, class hopping and the championship stalwarts joined by a whole host of new faces. Despite the early finish, hopefully the growth in entries will continue as a theme for the rest of the year.

FIM-E Top Fuel Bike

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With 10 time and reigning champion Ian King racing in the States in 2017, the chase for this season’s title in the premier FIM-E Top Fuel Bike category seemed to be wide open, and, with the early finish to the meeting, we are little the wiser. Low qualifier with an off the trailer 6.114/220.17mph, Rikard Gustafsson on the RG Engineering Puma fueler had made some small adjustments over the winter, with a new stronger crank being foremost among these. With 11 entries, Gustafsson had a healthy half a second advantage over the field, the best of the rest being Greece’s Fil Papafilipou on his nitrous PXM at 6.687/205.34. It seemed as if raceday would be plain sailing for the Swedish team were worried about some main bearing damage on the new crank, skipping the final qualifying session and having a late night polishing it back into race ready condition.

First to line up in eliminations were Rene van den Berg and Stuart Crane in the of four nitrobike v funnybike that were a signature of the opening round, this one went to van den Berg (who had windowed a block in qualifying) in a 6.543/194.70 to 6.973/172.36. Steve Woollatt on the Dealer PBR Puma fuel bike prevailed over Papafilippou with a 6.450/192.44 and Otto Knebl made it three out of three for the nitrobikes with a mid-seven second. victory over the unique compound turbo entry of Lorcan Parnell. And so to the Swedish head-to-head. Pettersson put his qualifying woes behind him and left the line first and was still neck and neck at half-track, but the funnybike was heading for the centreline causing an early shutoff and Gustafsson passed him to record a 6.435/233.70.

The semi-finalists were in the pairing lanes when the rain came down, but Gustafsson was without his bike as a plummet in oil pressure as he rolled off the throttle suggesting the main bearing had given up the ghost again: “I’ll have a look at it when I get back home, but it might mean I have to buy another crank and they take a long time to be delivered”. Hopefully the outcome won’t mean that Rikard has to skip a number of meetings and that he remains a strong challenger for the championship (and his own personal goal of a five second pass after coming so close last year).

FIM-E Super Twin Bike

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Super Twin had a number of withdrawals after explosive incidents in qualifying, with Ronny Aasen barely getting off the line before the bottom end failed on Ton & Vincent Pels’ supercharged Zodiac entry, Petr Ceska blowing his only motor on a slowing eight second pass and class rookie (but reigning Pro Stock Bike champion) Gert-jan Laseur torching a head on his final qualifying effort. Laseur’s Dutch compatriot Martijn de Haas qualified low with a 6.878/199.76 closely followed by Czech star Roman Sixta on a 6.891/206.12, with French debutant Bruno Salesse getting a handle on the ex-Job Heezen and ex-Lo Stauble championship winning ride. In the only round of eliminations, Sixta defeated Salesse with a seven zero, whilst de Haas rode out a shaking launch to set class low ET with a 6.721/206.03.

FIM-E Pro Stock Bike

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The Stockers had a bumper twelve entries trying to make the cut, with Ålund’s Fredrik Fredlund taking it cautiously on his currently unsponsored Suzuki but still ending up on top with a 7.031/189.00, with Swede Kenneth Holmberg bouncing back from a broken connecting rod wiping out his primary engine in the first qualifying session to end up in 3rd with a 7.289/179.16 to sit just behind French rookie Charly Abraham’s 7.286/171.73 on his first event in the seat of the ex-Laseur Buell. Again, only one round of eliminations was completed, with Fredlund progressing past Denmark’s Fredrik Schack’s 7.621/169.18 with a 7.062/188.13. Alex Hope defeated Martin Newbury in an all British match up, whilst the other qualified Brits Martin Bishop and Len Paget fell to Holmberg and Abraham respectively.

FIM-E Super Street Bike

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So long a British benefit, with Garry Bowe (7.061/207.04) and Rick Stubbins (7.097/203.23) flying the flag for the UK in the top spots in qualifying, the Super Street Bike class is now a truly Pan-European one with a dramatic increase in the Scandinavian entries this year. The sixteen bike eliminator almost managed to complete two rounds with Hungary’s Daniel Donat Lencses defeating Bowe, Stubbins progressing past Steve Venables and a surprising Dave Thomas (having repeatedly lowered his PB mark to just make the field) who holeshot incoming points leader Malta’s Franklyn Borg to book a space in the semi-finals. Unfortunately repeated holds for drizzle bumped the final pairing behind the Pro Mod quarters which delivered further frustration in the shape of an oildown, leaving Dane Mogens Lund and Swede Robert Nilsson in the water box muttering more than a few Scandinavian oaths when the rain came.

Remaining FIM-E 2017 Championship dates
18th – 20th August NitrOlympX, Hockenheimring, Germany
7th – 10th September Euro Finals, Santa Pod Raceway, UK

View points standings on the Points page.

Words and bike pictures Ivan Sansom and Rose Hughes. Thanks to TSI Timers (Europe) for access to the timing data.

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