report and photos by Steven Moxley
The final round of the 2017 ACU Championships was held at the National Finals. It has been a few years since it was last held at this event, and there were many personal bests set over the weekend.
Top Fuel Bike
The top two Top Fuel qualifiers ran under the ACU championship ET record during qualifying. Former ACU Champion Rene Van Den Berg ran a personal best of 6.095 (no back-up to follow) at 214.85 and championship points leader and reigning champion Steve Woollatt ran 6.207-195.46.
Neil Midgley recorded the quickest ET for his Cannon Engineering bike and a career personal best of 6.477, clicking off early with a speed of 177.85. Midgley damaged a rear piston during qualifying.
Al Smith made his competition debut on Phil Baimbridge’s new Top Fuel Bike. There were a few minor teething problems. A belt broke at 250 feet after a great launch and then came a couple of fluid leaks during the other sessions.
Van Den Berg had a bye to the final. In the other semifinal, Woollatt led from start to finish and set a new ET record of 6.200 against Midgley, who ran 6.692 and his fastest speed so far of 179.25.
Woollatt won the event and the championship when Van Den Berg was a no show.
Allan Davies once again dominated qualifying with a 7.242 at 178.53 mph. Stefan Hagenstein ran a personal best of 7.615 at 171.74 for number two spot. Outgoing champion Phil Crossley was next with 7.769-170.43.
Dave Peters damaged two clutches during qualifying and got Pro Mod racer Andy Robinson to weld the clutch basket. Peters ran a best of 7.840-167.29.
In fourth spot was Pete Le Gros with a 7.986-170.46. Dave Buttery had a great launch off the start line only for the motor to let go big-time at the 1000 foot mark, which put him out of the show but qualified fifth with an 8.186-113.63. Thomas Joswig was on the bump spot with an 8.272-164.69.
Davies had a bye run and was crowned 2017 ACU Funny Bike champion. Peters broke in the burnout box, leaving Le Gros to solo into the next round. Hagenstein broke off the start line against Joswig. Crossley had a bye run to the semis.
Le Gros was a no-show in the first semi-final against Davies. In the other semi, Crossley beat Joswig 7.723 to 7.956.
In the final Crossley put a .90 to .136 holeshot on Davies, who powered around to take the winlight 7.456 to 7.839.
Sean Mills led a very competitive field in Comp Bike with a personal best ET of 7.439 at 177.15.
The next five out of six riders ran personal bests—Mark Hope with a 7.595-192.95 (faster than the ACU speed record), Tony Clark 7.597-184.36, Dave Batcheler 7.826, Martin Walker 7.900-183.56 and Sigmaro Profas 7.903.
Reigning ACU Comp bike champion Eddy Smiley qualified in number four spot with a 7.798-176.44. Kevin Osman ran 8.009 at 174.41 but had an electrical gremlin on raceday. Championship contender Mick Winyard was next at 8.069-180.69. Daniel Bergelin ran a personal best of 8.178 at 157.93.
Another rider to run a personal best was Erik Jennes, who ran 8.253 despite a low boost issue. Phil Leamon ran 8.430-155.75.
Ian Burns bought the TL1000 bodywork from Alex Hope (an ex-Dave Beck bike) and ran 8.472-152. Margot Schmidt hurt a bearing on the transmission after running 9.078-125.
Thurnty Martina had a problem in the shutdown area on test day and parted company from the bike in the field and broke his collarbone. Scott Collier didn’t make it down the track due to an oil leak when they fired the bike up in the morning.
Round one and Mills had a bye run and ran a jaw-dropping 7.288-198.79—his personal best ever. Jennes’ wheel spun off the start line against Smiley. Bergelin put a huge ,147 to .501(!) holeshot over Batcheler, who still managed to power around Bergelin to take the win 7.896 at 160 to Bergelin’s 8.381-158. Hope ran another p/b 7.582 to beat Burns’ best of the weekend 8.220. Osman was a no-show so Profas had a bye run, as did Leamon when Clark was a no-show. Walker ran another p/b 7.860 to beat Winyard.
Hope ran yet another p/b of 7.522 at 192.14 in round 2 to set a new ACU speed record of 192.95 when he beat Profas, who also ran a p/b 7.763-184.30. Mills ran another bye run and reset the speed record at 193.76. Walker ran another p/b 7.849.
Smiley had a bye run to the final and retained his ACU Comp Bike championship when Mills broke. In the other semi-final, Hope ran yet another p/b 7.504 to beat Walker, who also ran a p/b 7.846.
Smiley put a holeshot (rt .085 to .239) over Hope at the start. But Hope—in his first ACU final—stormed down the track and took the winlight 7.510-192.85 to 7.749-178.53 for his first ACU win.
Super Street Bike
Super Street Bike championship contenders Rick Stubbins (7.076) and Graham Balchin (7.159) led the field followed by Rudolfo Maduro, who ran a personal best of 7.268. Stephen Mead also ran a p/b 7.287.
In fifth spot was Pete Field, who suffered transmission problems with fourth gear in testing. During qualifying he hurt his motor after running 7.315-160.25 and was out of the show.
Richard Hann led a small group in the 7.4 second zone with a 7.411, ahead of Steve Venables (7.431) who broke a rod. Steve fitted daughter Jemma Venable’s spare motor for eliminations.
Daniel Lencses had a new front wheel following the damage at the European Finals meeting, and after a checkout pass qualified with a 7.464-193.88. Alex Hope ran a 7.484.
Dave Smith ran his best time (7.539) since returning to Super Street Bike. Graham Dance had a switch fail, which controls his burnout and race set-up, and ran 7.552-195.45 to get in the show.
Mark Wells ran 7.891 ahead of Chris Reed’s 7.968. Dave Thomas ran 8.195 and finally Steve Wood with a 8.341.
Peter Granica broke a camshaft during testing after running 7.6 seconds.
Stubbins had a bye in round 1 of eliminations and ran 7.156-198.01. Reed beat Mead, who drifted towards the wall at mid-track. Wells had a bye run when Field was a no-show, but when Wells started his burnout, fluid leaked and that was the end of his season. Balchin eased past Wood 7.199 to 8.403. Hope broke off the start line against Lencses. Venables knocked out Smith 7.170 to 7.970, and Thomas ended Maduro’s season with a close 8.022 to 8.030 win.
Round two and Reed had the bye run to the semifinals. Venables redlit against Balchin, as did Lencses against Stubbins. Hann beat a troubled Thomas 7.456 to 13.226.
Stubbins ran low ET of the meeting 7.053 to beat Reed in the semis. In the other semifinal, Balchin won on a holeshot 7.643 against a quicker but loosing 7.447 by Hann.
Stubbins won the final and the championship with a 7.063 to Balchin’s 7.361.
Mark Dainty was the number one qualifier in the ten-bike 8.50 field with an 8.520. Augy Harrison was second at 8.532 followed by Louis Davies’ 8.536 and Jake Mechaell’s 8.544.
2016 champion Jay Roe beat Dainty in round one when Mark broke out with an 8.449. Roe then beat Ian Chrichlow in the semis and faced Mechaell, who was the 2017 8.50 champion, in the final. Roe won the event when Mechaell broke out with an 8.468.
After damaging his engine at the European Finals, former European FIM and ACU Super Street Bike champion Garry Bowe rode Alex Hope’s 9.50 bike and qualified number one with a 9.517, ahead of Lewis Burgess’ 9.525. Bowe went on to win the event when Burgess broke out in the final. Richard Sawatzki retained his title.
Phil Pratt was the number one ET qualifier with a 9.040 (dial in 9.02). Pratt defeated Gary Hester in the final and won the 2017 ET Bike title.
Andy Robinson dominated Pro Mod qualifying and was the only 5 second driver with a personal best ET of 5.946 at 236.53. Marck Harteveld was the nearest challenger with a 6.098-235.11. There were personal bests also for Marco Maurischat (6.112) and Andy Wright (6.171-230.23).
Kevin Slyfield was out of the show with a broken chassis, as was Chris Issac—who damaged a valve in the cylinder head and the rear axle. Mick Payne broke a con-rod.
In round one of eliminations, Wayne Nicholson ran personal best figures of 6.395-221.36 to knock out Harteveld.
Robinson turned the wick up for the final and ran personal best figures of 5.918-242.43 to beat Maurischat’s 6.295-232.84. Robinson is the 2017 MSA Pro Modified champion.
Congratulations to the following champions:
Top Fuel Bike—Steve Woollatt
Funny Bike—Allan Davies
Pro Stock Bike—Len Paget
Comp Bike—Eddy Smiley
Super Street Bike—Richards Stubbins
8.50 Bike—Jake Mechaell
9.50 Bike—Richard Sawatzki
ET Bike—Phil Pratt
MSA Pro Mod—Andy Robinson