FIM-E Nitrolympx, Hockenheimring, Germany
As we head towards the denouement of the 2018 season the racers are confronted with a ferocious schedule of three events over four weekends with the first of this intense swing being the Nitrolympx at the fabled Hockenheimring in Germany. With only patchy clouds to spoil the view, the racing was hot in all of the pro categories, almost as hot as the track temperature although the racing surface held up remarkably well over the course of the event.
FIM-E Top Fuel Bike
The premier FIM-E class delivered a bundle of good and not so good stories over the course of the weekend. Heading the qualifying sheets with both ends of the track record at 5.918/248.98 was Rikard Gustafsson and the RG Engineering Puma Suzuki, this pass coming alongside a 5.980/226.89 from Filippos Papafilippou in the third qualifying session to record the first side by side fives from fuel bikes outside of the States. Unfortunately, celebrations were curtailed by the accident that befell Rikard in the shutdown area that placed him in hospital with a broken arm, ribs and a collapsed lung although a recent update has the Swede back home in Sweden and already plotting his return to the track.
Eliminations and Papafilippou and the Gulf Oils team marched to their second event win as a collective, with a 5.956 in the first round of eliminations taking out a lane swapping Glenn Borg and a slippery 6.126 defeating Stuart Crane’s 6.935. Fast Fil was due to face up with an increasingly rapid Eric Richard in the final, but the Frenchman was a no-show and something went west with the timing system on the Greek’s solo to the trophy and a very healthy lead in the points.
FIM-E Super Twin Bike
Eight bikes provided a full ladder for Super Twin with Marcus Christiansen and the Speedy race team sitting on top of the heap with a 6.477/218.51. The first round of eliminations saw Christian Jager and Roman Sixta killing foam timing blocks handing wins to Christiansen (who clocked a class low 6.408) and Gert-Jan Laseur (who picked up a class PB with a 7.170). The man from Japan Crazy Tak Shigematsu also progressed to the semifinals with a 6.849 and Martijn de Haas (6.867) rounding out the final four. Tak defeated a lane crossing Laseur (this was something of a theme over the course of the weekend across many classes) with a 6.868 whilst Christiansen barely dropped a beat in recording a 6.523/221.99 to get past de Haas’ holeshot and a 6.937. Shigematsu got the jump at the startline but fairly swiftly slowed with a fuel leak leaving Christiansen to take his first FIM-E event win after featuring as a runner-up in two of the last three events with a 6.434/222.77. The Dane now heads into the Euro Finals with a nice lead in the championship chase.
FIM-E Pro Stock Bike
Pro Stock Bike had a healthier feel to it than some recent events with ten entries making a shot at the eight bike ladder. They were headed by Martin Newbury with a 7.162, but it was another British rider that would take the trophy with Alex Hope picking up his second event win (not first as we erroneously informed the Agent) after nailing the tree with a 0.005s RT to hang on ahead of Karl Heinz Weikum in a 7.4 second final. Has Hope done enough to bring home a first championship for the CBD Asylum team at Santa Pod?
FIM-E Super Street Bike
The Hockenheim Super Street Bike field is always a substantial and very multi-national affair and the 2018 edition was no exception with Denmark (Mogens Lund at 7.090 leading the way), Italy, Hungary and Finland represented in the top eight alongside the inevitable heavy British contingent. Despite the international flavor, the semifinals became an all-British affair with Rick Stubbins defeating Stephen Mead in a 7.077/204.73 (top speed of the event) to 7.572 match up on the lower half of the ladder, while Graham Balchin occupied the other final round spot defeating Steve Venables with a 7.219 (Venables having produced a 7.037 at the quarter final stage for class low ET). Stubbins had dropped a valve in his semifinal win and with the usual pressure to finish eliminations against a tight local curfew there was no opportunity to replace the motor so Balchin soloed to his first FIM-E win since 2012.
FIM-E Junior Dragbike Cup
It was good to see more competitors joining in the Junior Dragbike Cup with Meggie Talbot qualifying in the number one spot and Germany’s Lorens Bochnig taking the event win over Talbot in eliminations. Meggie now has a big lead as she heads back to home soil at Santa Pod next month.
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.