FIM-E Nitro Nationals, Kauhava, Finland
After a couple of years absence, the FIM-E series returned to Finland at the new track someway north of Helsinki for the FHRA Nitro Nationals. Whilst many of the four wheeled competitors struggled to get to grips with the fresh surface that forms part of the LSK Business Park, a number of firsts were recorded in the FIM-E classes.
FIM-E Top Fuel Bike
The dynamic duo of Filippos Papafillipou and Rikard Gustafsson dominated qualifying, the Greek rider recording the first five second pass on Finnish soil in the opening session with a 5.975 before both improved in the second session with Gustafsson taking the lead with a 5.836 alongside Papafillipou's 5.865. That is pretty much the way things stayed at the head of the seven bike field although Gustafsson made use of the exceptionally long shut down area to record a best in Europe 254.52 mph terminal speed. Eliminations were repeatedly delayed by rain and on track issues, the changing conditions had Papafillipou as the only one to record a five second pass on raceday, a 5.970 which covered a pacey 6.228 from Norwegian Jan Sturla Hegre, to earn a spot in the final. Surprisingly his opponent would be Thomas Petterson and not Gustafsson as the latter left before the tree activated at the final four stage, perhaps concerned about Petterson's 0.001s RT in the opening round. Unfortunately, Petterson was a no show for the final and the 6.078 bye run pushed Fast Fil into the points lead for the first time this season.
FIM-E Super Twin Bike
10 riders took a shot at qualifying for the 8 bike ladder, with Marcus Christiansen recording a 6.425 to head the field with a slew of six and low seven second teams following in his wake. Christiansen set low ET of the quarter and semi-finals, solidly in the six second zone to defeat Roman Sixta and Samu Kemppainen and take what is now a traditional spot in the final round for the Danish Speedy's Racing team. On the lower half of the ladder Harri Piensalmi defeated Hans Olav Olstad and Gert-Jan Laseur to book his spot in his first FIM-E final and the Finn gained a bye run and first trophy when Christiansen was shutoff before making the pre-race burnout due to a lack of oil pressure. Despite this, Christiansen has a healthy advantage in the points with two events remaining.
FIM-E Pro Stock Bike
A reduced field for Pro Stock Bike was dominated by Fredrik Fredlund who qualified low with a 7.094 and took the event win over travelling partner Janne Koskinen, the Sweet Cheeks rider recovering from an off during the Swedish event and gaining his spot in the final alongside Fredlund when Kenneth Holmberg was a no show at the semi-final stage.
FIM-E Super Street Bike
The Super Street Bike field gave a triple trophy celebration for the Finnish crowd as Vesa Ruhanen lead the field dominated by Hayabusas with a 7.085 from his Kawasaki. Ruhanen was another low qualifier to put himself in the trophy match-up with victories over Mark Hope and Mogens Lund to set up a meeting with Ida Zetterstrom who made her first FIM-E final after knocking out Stephen Mead and Alex Hope. In the closest final Ruhanen bested Zetterstrom with a 7.148 to a 7.299 to open his 2019 points account.
View points standings on the Points page.
Words Ivan Sansom & Rose Hughes, photos courtesy and copyright Pasi Uponen. Thanks to TSI Timers (Europe) for access to the timing data.