FIM-E Main Event, Santa Pod Raceway, England, 2019
The Main Event over the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend marks the traditional opener to the FIM-E season, although the Super Street Bike class had already kicked off their championship tour in Hungary at the start of May. The pits were occupied by a number of familiar faces, augmented by returnees to the FIM-E tour (hinting at the emerging detente that has brought the Nordic countries back into the tour after far too long an absence) and new contenders.
FIM-E Top Fuel Bike
After a hideous off in Germany last August, the return of Rikard Gustafsson and the RG Engineering Puma after a few months of healing and rebuilding was particularly gratifying, and the Swede quickly picked up where he left off with an ‘off the trailer’ 5.9155/234.87 in the first session. Gustafsson topped the sheets in the remaining three qualifiers with a final session 5.8361/234.97 whilst behind him was something of a trail of destruction with Steve Woollatt creating a bit of a mess trying to improve in the fourth session on a 6.1878/215.89 whilst Rene van den Berg rodded the cases and lit her up on a flaming 6.2872/195.43. In fourth was last year’s champion Filippos Papafilippou with a 6.3162/171.10 best, the Gulf Oils team embarking on a direct drive setup accompanied by substantial weight loss effort, some promising 3.9 second eighth mile tickets will keep them working away at it. Thomas Pettersson punted out a new PB 6.5242 to lead the funny bike quartet including Glenn Borg (6.8293), Dale Leeks (7.1104 from his new turbo setup), Stu Crane 7.2567) and, in as an alternate, Eric Richard (7.3425).
The opening session of eliminations saw Borg progress with a solo, Richard out run Leeks, Papafilippou overcome a holeshot from Pettersson who subsequently slowed, and Gustafsson ride around Crane with a 6.088/238.72 for the best numbers of the round. The semi-finals pitted Fil against Gustafsson and Borg against Richard, with the all funny bike pairing being the closer with the Maltese rider progressing to his first FIM-E final with a 6.8857/193.05 to a 7.0395/195.37, the ET advantage definitely being needed as Richard had left the line with nine hundreds of a second reaction time advantage. The nitro bikes on the top side of the ladder had Gustafsson back into the fives (5.9120/233.75) to cover Fast Fil’s 6.1759/205.33.
The final went to form with Gustafsson rocking out another five second pass (5.9555/242.54) to comfortably overcome Borg’s 6.9074/201.58 although both teams could take considerable satisfaction from this event; Gustafsson will go quicker before the season is out, but five fives and a pair of six zeroes on each hit of the throttle is pretty impressive stuff.
FIM-E Super Twin Bike
With nine bikes aiming for a spot on the eight bike ladder, the fourth qualifying session was a last ditch effort for multi-time series champion Martjin de Haas got in the field at the last with a mid-seven from the DJ chassised ride that is new for this year, leaving Christian Jager on the outside and Marc van den Boer on the bump with a 7.4372 best from his pro fuel entry (which will shortly be replaced by de Haas’s old ride). The rest of the field was in the sixes, with Allan Davies (6.8064/192.20) and Gert-jan Laseur (6.7231/198.00) both recording PBs on their first visits to the six second zone. Hans Olav Olstad (6.6901/209.89) and Neil Midgley (6.6073/194.63) were at fourth and third respectively on their blown entries, whilst Samu Kemppainen (6.5527/214.90) and Marcus Christiansen (6.3867/215.10) held the top spots for the injected brigade.
Christiansen opened eliminations with a 6.531/203.35 to defeat van den Boer’s PB 7.286/175.07 and then used a 6.652/209.82 to cover Laseur’s centreline threatening 7.066 at the semifinal stage (Laseur having earlier run a 6.909 to earn his semifinal spot over Olstad’s 7.526 that spat a fuel line off causing a small conflagration. Kemppainen and de Haas met had a six second match up with the Finn lighting the winlight with a 6.651/211.89 while de Haas was very happy with a smooth and straight 6.929/199.88 as the Dutch brothers shake down the new ride. Midgley (7.046) progressed past Davies (7.207/196.41) in a blown V-Twin pairing. Kemppainen then defeated Midgley with his best run of the weekend at 6.526/216.89 to head to the final on Skull Racing’s return to European competition.
The final turned into a bit of a non-event as Kemppainen’s ride just stopped at the hit of the throttle whilst Christiansen rumbled to a 6.505/215.13 to add to the Dane’s rapidly increasing collection of FIM-E silverware.
FIM-E Pro Stock Bike
A returning Fredrik Fredlund was looking to add to his six championships and a 7.1165/188.19 to head the field after the second session suggested things were on track, but a smashed gearbox locked his Suzuki up whilst looking to improve in the next session. This put him out for the event and almost out of the next event although we understand a replacement transmission has been sourced just in the nick of time. The remaining six qualifiers were led by 2018 champion Maurice Bertrand (7.2704), Fredlund’s fellow traveler Janne Koskinen (7.3784), the British class veterans Len Paget (7.4382) and Martin Bishop (7.5426) and a pair of rookies in the eights in the shape of Swizz Kevin Feuz and France’s David Simon.
The wounded field wasn’t helped by Paget failing to move off the startline in the opening round against Bishop who then locked up after crossing the finishline, Simon also only staged against Bertrand whilst Koskinen defeated Feuz with a 7.332/180.63. The semifinal saw Koskinen benefitting from Fredlund’s assistance to run a new PB of 7.125/184.32 to handily cover Bertrand’s 7.497/179.26 whilst Bishop staged to take the win. It wasn’t too much of a surprise when the latter was a no show for the final and Koskinen produced a 7.233/185.01 on the solo to take the first FIM-E for the Finnish Sweet Cheeks team.
FIM-E Super Street Bike
Super Street Bike embarked at its second round for 2019 on the back of their season opener in Hungary which saw Steve Venables run the first six at Kunmadaras and Alex Hope taking his first FIM-E Super Street Bike event win after moving from Pro Stock. The significantly over subscribed field for the Main Event came from across the continent and got close to delivering a record bump spot with a 7.6597/186.60 for Clemens Walleit that stood a reasonable chance of being improved on if the class hadn’t lost its final qualifier due to running up against the track curfew. At the other end of the field, Venables (sub Euro record 6.8766/201.55), Mogens Lund (PBing with a 6.9642/209.13) and Garry Bowe (6.9951/203.49) made up the top three heading into eliminations.
Eliminations were a bit funky on the lower half of the ladder, Lund losing out to Erich Gruber thanks to an ignition failure in the opening round, and reigning champion Rick Stubbins losing to Stephen Mead at the same stage. A similar theme developed in the quarter finals with Mead breaking against Gruber and Bowe redlighting against Alex Hope, and it continued in the semis with Gruber progressing to his first final after Hope slowed leaving stuff on the track. Top side of the ladder made a lot more sense with Venables (6.937/209.85), Graham Balchin (7.132/200.53) and Mathias Bohlin (7.192/192.95) progressing as the better qualified in their parings and Rudolfo Maduro (7.153/192.22) completing the quarter final quartet. Venables remained in the sixes with a 6.953/208.91 to cover Balchin in the final 8 and then Bohlin with a 6.889/210.93 before rocking out a new FIM-E record with a 6.854/213.90 to draw a line under Gruber’s dream weekend.
FIM-E Junior Dragbike Cup
The Juniors season opener attracted four UK entries, with 2018 Cup holder Meggie Talbot qualifying closest to her index, with Blade Dummer second and Casey and Liam Holgate third and fourth respectively. We’re not too sure what happened with Dummer’s new ride between qualifying and eliminations, but it added four seconds to his dial-in overnight which might have thrown others a bit of a curveball. However, a first round win over Holgate (L) and a breakout from in the final Meg give him an early lead in the points.
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.