The opening round of the 2018 European Championships in both the FIA and FIM got off to a cracking start with glorious weather on the days of professional racing at Santa Pod Raceway’s famous Main Event.
Forty eight bikes in the FIM classes (Top Fuel Bike, SuperTwins, Pro Stock Bike and Super Street bike) and nearly half the field entered ran personal bests. Two new European records were also set on Santa Pod’s brand new, all-concrete track surface.
Top Fuel Bike
The star of the Top Fuel Bike show was Filippos Papafilippou riding the ex-Ian King championship-winning Gulf bike. Fast Fil stunned everyone with a 6.099 at 214.08 miles per hour right out of the trailer—his first-ever pass on the bike. Then in the next session of qualifying ran a jaw-dropping 5.782-236.16.
Reigning European FIM Top Fuel Bike champion Rikard Gustafsson had a bearing problem on the crankshaft and had to change the short motor. Then in the final qualifying session Rikard ran his first five-second pass in Europe and first 250-plus mph in Europe with figures of 5.995-250.55.
Reigning ACU Top Fuel Bike champion Steve Woollatt was next with 6.367-195.46 with a clutch issue during qualifying.
Glenn Borg has changed to an EFI fuel set-up and tested in Malta with a best of 6.76-201. He had a handling problem and after changing the set-up and ran a stunning 6.574-206.29 personal best.
Lorcan Parnell has a new billet cylinder block. The cylinder head has a copper head gasket and not power rings. Also, the gearing has been reduced and the bodywork has increased in length, resulting in a pass of 6.853-205.17.
Eric Richard recorded his first ever six-second pass (6.96) during test day (Thursday), and then ran p/b figures of 6.909-196.40. Stuart Crane was using his championship-winning motor of three years ago and ran 6.988-184.98. Thomas Pettersson has a new cylinder head and Garrett 35-82 turbocharger and ran 7.2656-143.88 to edge Dale Leeks’ 7.2658-184.38 out of the show. Phil Crossley debuted his new frame in a bid to cure last years handling problem and ran 7.589-178.48.
Leeks came in as first alternate in round 1 of eliminations for Woollatt, who withdrew with two damaged pistons. Leeks put a holeshot on Richard, leading till the 1/8th mile when Dale had electrical issue and Eric took the winlight with a 7.274.
Borg had an issue on the start line and shut-off, leaving Parnell a bye run. Gustafsson set a new European Speed record with 250.45 (to back up his earlier run of 250.55) when he defeated Crane. There was no time and speed in the Papafilippou and Pettersson match, which saw Pettersson have traction issue at mid-track and Papafilippou taking the winlight.
In the first semifinal, Parnell got out the gate .145 to .377 first against Papafilippou, but then Papfilippou powered around with a 6.248 to Parnell’s p/b figures of 6.740-218.00. In the other semi, Gustafsson got close to the wall and was on and off the throttle but managed to beat Richard with a 6.650 to Richard’s p/b of 6.907.
The final turned out to be the best race of the day with the quickest and fastest side by side in Europe. Papafilippou took the win with a 6.017 at 227.82 to Gustafsson’s 6.027-240.32.
This was Marcus Christiansen’s first visit to Santa Pod Raceway and after an easy pass he went back-to-back personal bests of 6.54 and 6.429 at 215.95 to lead the SuperTwins field.
Neil Midgley ran 6.566 with a best-speed-to-date of 183.54, but on Sunday had a broken ignition pick up.
Making a welcome return to the FIM Championship was Hans Olav Olstad, but it didn’t start well because his cam belt jumped a tooth. A new belt it resulted in a 6.725-211.83.
Reigning FIM SuperTwin Champion Martijn De Haas was looking for a clutch set-up to improve his 60 foot time and ran 6.877-206.29. Ronny Aasen was back in the saddle of the Zodiac bike with modified parts for their engine and in the final qualifying session ran 6.988-206.11. Gert-Jan Laseur has fitted a new exhaust and bigger input shaft and ran a p/b of 7.561 at 173.09.
Reigning ACU Funny Bike Champion Allan Davies made his debut with a Puma V Twin after twenty years since his father Pete Davies constructed and built the machine. Last year Davies. did some RWYB meetings, but this is the first competition the bike has run at. Legendary Frank Brachtvogel—the only tuner to have won British titles in both four-cylinder and two-cylinder nitro classes—was on hand tuning the bike. Davies had clutch issues and a non-working RacePak over the weekend and qualified with a 7.814-173.73 (best figures to date) and ran a p/b speed of 185.13.
Marc Van Den Boer debuted a new bike—an ex-Frank Capone piece with a Jordan Cruz 120 cubic inch Pro Fuel motor. This was Van Den Boer’s first time running on nitro and qualified on the bump spot with an 8.363-160.74.
Outside the show was the new bike of Christian Jager, which is the ex-Joachim (Acka) Riemer bike. The bike has a PRP 3200cc motor with a new type Bentec clutch and old type Bentec transmission, and testing a new German 2D Datalogger used in Moto GP. Jager’s best time was 9.181-149.14.
Boer took a shot at the tree in E1 and redlit against Christiansen, who ran 6.458 with a personal best speed of 223.38. De Haas’ rear cylinder hydrauliced at 150 feet and split the con-rod in two lengthwise. Aasen ran 6.385—under the European ET record of 6.409. Next was an all-British race, which Midgley won with a 6.583 at the expense of a piston to Davies’ 7.923. Olstad ran a superb 6.533-220.10 to beat Laseur.
The best SuperTwins race of the day turned out to be the quickest and fastest side-by-side SuperTwins race in Europe, with Christian running a p/b 6.337-212.10 to Aasen’s losing 6.462 at a p/b speed of 228.92. It was a close race in the other semi with Midgley putting a holeshot on Olstad only to shut off at the 1000 ft mark, and Olstad taking the winlight 6.673 to 6.767.
Christiansen had to shut off his motor due to a fluid leak on the start line for the final, giving a bye run to Olstad and a win on his return to the championship.
Pro Stock Bike
Kenneth Holmberg has not had much luck the past two years here at Santa Pod and once again Holmberg damaged another motor. A connecting rod—which had been upgraded—broke, but Holmberg still was the number one Pro Stock Bike qualifier with a 7.434-172.38.
has a Gen 2 clutch fitted for this season and just edged Martin Bishop for number two spot 7.471 at 173.73 to 7.475-151.57. Bishop threw a con-rod at the finishline. On his next pass the transmission let go and they had to make one transmission out of two.
Alex Hope has had a new front end fitted to the ex-Dave Beck bike, and was still having handling issues and ran 7.512-175.08. Mark Smith had a new Vortex cylinder head, had a valve drop and damaged a piston as well, and ran 9.415.
Holmberg redlit against Hope in the first semi-final and Bishop was a no-show, so Maurice had a bye run to his first FIM final.
Hope had a teeth clenching –0.006 redlight in the final giving Maurice his first FIM event win.
Super Street Bike Round 2
The first FIM Super Street Bike round of 2018 was run in Hungary a few weeks before the Main Event and saw reigning Super Street Bike champion Rick Stubbins take the win.
At this event, half the field of the twenty-four bikes entered ran personal bests over the five-day period (including test day).
DME’s Steve Venables sorted an ECU problem during qualifying and at the end of the sessions he was back on top with a 6.968 at a personal best of 214.82 (fastest in Europe). Mogens Lund was next with a new motor and a 7.024-208.90.
Former champion Garry Bowe had an expensive weekend, damaging a motor and then damaging his transmission on his spare motor. Garry qualified third with a 7.081-205.34 but was out of the show.
Franklyn Borg was fourth with a 7.122-200.76 after some mid-track wheelies.
Graham Balchin has modified the front end and ran a p/b speed of 204.26 on test day. He qualified with 7.167-203.32, just ahead of Stubbins’ 7.167-201.66. Stubbins had a detonation issue.
Daniel Lencses ran a stunning 210.02 on test day, then qualified with a 7.186-204.41.
Rudi Zorzi was runner-up in Hungary with personal best figures of 7.14-203.25. Here at the Main Event, a water hose let go at the finishline and he ran 7.230-198.12.
Stephen Mead sent a warning shot on test day with p/b figures of 7.206-199.88, but the best he ran in qualifying was 7.330-193.05. Rudolfo Maduro had done some chassis mods, was looking for a set-up, and ran 7.410-192.12.
Graham Dance’s number one motor started to smoke after testing so the spare motor was fitted and he ran 7.435-193.04.
Thomas Granica is now running a Gen 2 clutch and a new cylinder head and Garrett GTX (Total) turbocharger. But Granica hurt his only motor after a 7.480-186.65 and was out of the show.
Mark Hope’s aim for 2018 is to run 200 mph and he got close after changing his clutch with a 7.550 at 199.66 p/b. 8.50 Bike champion Jake Mechaell was riding Alex Hope’s Super Street Bike and ran personal best figures of 7.489-193.87 in testing, but could only run 7.585-193.08 in qualifying.
Sandro Haldimann’s aim is to run 7.5 seconds this season. After fitting a new exhaust and AMS 2000, and mods carried out on the front end and the frame, Haldimann ran a p/b of 7.633-188.93.
Jemma Venables suffered boost problems during qualifying which caused wheelies, and was on the bump spot with a 7.638-185.14.
Outside the show were Robert Haggblom with a p/b 7.658, Erich Gruber’s 7.671 p/b, and Clemens Walliet’s 7.719.
Sweden Super Gas bike champion Mikael Olen ran a new motor in his class debut and ran 7.756-186.60 p/b. Margot Schmidt became the first Dutch lady rider to run seven seconds with a 7.942. Erik Jennes ran 8.029. Pete Field damaged a valve on his number one motor and fitted his spare to run 8.124. Dave Thomas had some issues and ran a best of 8.431-177.84.
Round one and it was an all-Venables race with dad Steve going into round two after Jemma pulled a wheelie just off the start line. Zorzi also had a wheelie issue against Mead. Balchin spun his rear tyre off the start line, but couldn’t catch Haggblom (1stalternate for Granica) who ran a p/b 7.632. Hope broke at 150 feet against Borg, and Mechaell had trouble off the start line against Gruber (2ndalternate for Bowe).
There was a great race between Lencses with a 7.212-198 and Maduro’s p/b-but-not-good-enough figures of 7.236-198.91. Dance redlit against Stubbins and Haldimann ran personal best figures of 7.547 at 192.05 but couldn’t stop Lund and his 7.043 from going into round two.
Venables turned the wick up and reset the European ET record to 6.928 to defeat Mead’s 7.331 in round 2. Haggblom ran another p/b of 7.580 to knock out Borg, who slowed at the 1000 ft mark. Lencses broke at mid-track against Lund, and Stubbins ended Gruber’s day.
Venables ran another 6 with a 6.934 when he beat Haggblom in the semi. In the other semifinal, Stubbins eased off at ¾ track and Lund powered into the final.
Tell me if you’ve heard this before—the best Super Street Bike race of the day turned into the quickest and fastest side-by-side in Europe. Lund pulled a perfect .000 reaction on the tree, but Venables powered around to take the winlight with a 6.934-210.00 to Mogens’ 7.038 at a p/b speed of 210.81.
European FIA Championships Round 1
The crowd and track crew were keen to see how the Top Fuel dragsters would cope with the all-new concrete surface.
Rune Fjeld had three cars entered, and Antti Horto (in a new car from Don Schumacher—was the number one qualifier with a p/b of 3.904-303.58. Horto was just ahead Liam Jones’ 3.905 with a 312.20 mph top speed of the meet. Reigning European FIA champion Duncan Micallef joined his teammates with a 3.920-309.97.
Anita Makela ran 3.957-295.07. Micke Kagered had a huge fireball when a fuel connection broke and didn’t qualify for eliminations.
Makela ran 3.982 to put Jndia Erbacher back in the trailer in round one on raceday. Stig Neergaard got sideways in a pedalfest to knock out Micallef.
In the semis, Makela ran 3.908 at 310.01 to beat Horto to met Neergaard.
Best race of the day and Neergaard finally got a set-up for his new clutch and ran 4.236-202 to Makela’s 4.398-198.
Dennis and Timo Habermann dominated Top Methanol qualifying with 5.321-270.39 and 5.365-265.11 laps, respectively. Jonny Lagg ran a personal best of 5.411. Jurgen Nagel also ran p/b speed of 247.82.
In round one of eliminations, Dennis Habermann had a bye and ran 5.306 with a p/b speed of 274.04.
Funny Car driver Micke Larsson was making his first visit to Santa Pod and almost pulled a shock result when Timo Habermann had traction problems at mid-track. But Larsson could not get the winlight with a 7.717 to Habermann’s 6.800.
So it was an all-Habermann final with Timo taking the trophy with a 5.301 (low ET) to Dennis’ 5.376.
Pro Stock Car
There were only four Pro Stock Cars entered with reigning European FIA champion Bengt Ljungdahl topping the field with a 6.645-204.43. Stefan Ernryd was next at 6.664-204.42 just ahead of Michael Malmgren’s 6.669-201.44. Robin Noren ran a p/b of 6.715.
In the first semifinal, Ernryd led from start to finish against Malmgren, with a 6.603-210 to a losing 6.687-207. There was a shock in the other semi, when Ljungdahl redlit and Noren ran another p/b of 6.652.
Ernryd put up a .007 bulb and took the winlight 6.603 to Noren’s 6.703.
Reigning European FIA Pro Modified champion Micke Gullqvist set a new track record of 5.868 during qualifying. Jimmy Alund was next with a 5.912 just ahead of Andy Robinson’s 5.925 with a p/b speed of 244.08. Dave Vegter ran p/b ET of 5.939 for fourth spot. Kim Christiansen ran his first five-second pass with a 5.940 and p/b of speed 245.06. There were personal bests for both Kev Slyfield (6.100-231.38) and Wayne Nicholson (6.343-223.30).
Jan Ericsson ran a p/b 6.003-237.77 to defeat Andy Robinson in round two of eliminations. Alund ended Ericsson’s weekend in the semifinals. Best race of the day, Vegter put a .065 to .080 holeshot over Gullqvist, who powered around to take the win 5.928 to 6.017.
Gullqvist took the first win of the season with a 5.904 and a top speed of the meet 246.71 while Alund slowed to a 6.898.
American John Smith was tuning both Kevin Kent’s and newcomer Kevin Chapman’s Funny Cars over the weekend. It was Kent who qualified in number one spot with a 4.529 at 265.62.
Kent beat Chapman in the semi-finals. Birgitte Bremnes ran personal best figures of 5.342-149.61, which was not enough to stop Steve Ashdown winning with a 5.112 in the other semi.
The final turned into a solo pass for Ashdown, who ran 5.111 to win the event.
Nostalgia Funny Car
With a stunning new paint job, Tony Betts was the Nostalgia Funny Car number one qualifier with personal best figures of 6.035-233.81. Bob Glassup was next in the Capri at 7.802 and Rob Elsom was completing his licence runs in his Firebird.
Betts had a bye in the semis and ran another p/b of 6.016-245.04. In the other semi, Elsom had a fluid leak and shut off, leaving Glassup a bye run and a personal best ever of 6.637-213.93. The final wasn’t run.
photos and story by Steven Moxley