The Summernationals—round 2 of the ACU Championships—lived up to its name with hot, sunny, high humidity and temperatures into the high 80s. But that didn’t stop racers from setting records and recording personal bests as everyone continues to love Santa Pod’s new surface.
Top Fuel Bike
It was an emotional weekend for the multi-time and reigning ACU Top Fuel Bike champion Steve Woollatt. His brother Gary died a week before the event. When Steve first started drag racing, Gary was his crewman. Woollatt was the number one qualifier at this event with a 6.354 at 192.23 miles per hour.
Allan Davies has now fitted a third plate to his clutch and ran 7.713 at 187.37 mph on Saturday—his best figures to date. The speed was a career personal best for Davies. The team had a fuel issue and on Sunday’s qualifying session Davies ran 7.694-186.59.
Al Smith has been doing a lot of testing this year with the Phil Baimbridge three-cylinder fuel bike. In the second session, Smith lit the rear tyre and ran 12.876. The following session a cam belt and number one con-rod broke and Smith was out of the show.
Woollatt led from start to finish in the final 6.373 at 215.16 to Davies’ 7.755-166.68.
Lorcan Parnell’s “Storm” team fitted a Hayabusa front end to stabilize the bike in the second eighth of the track. That resulted in stunning personal best figures of 6.676-218.24, which is under the ACU Funny Bike ET record and faster than the speed record.
Eric Richard was Parnell’s nearest challenger with a 6.968-193 90. In the second session, Richard ran a p/b speed of 197.14.
Dale Leeks has rewired his bike over the winter, but still had an electrical issue. He changed the coil pick-ups and ran 7.073-181.42 and couldn’t get fifth gear.
Stuart Crane damaged another crankshaft and ran 7.254-160.19.
Due to a low entry in Pro Stock Bike, reigning ACU champion Len Paget moved over to Funny Bike. This was his first appearance of the season. The front half of the frame is new and the bike also has new bodywork, Paget ran 7.523-173.72.
Phil Crossley is happy with his new frame and ran 7.552-179.94.
Kars Van Den Belt ran a personal best in testing at 7.02. He had shifting problem during qualifying and ran a best of 7.864-134.16.
Thomas Joswig debuted a new bike—the ex-Filippos Papafilippou Funny Bike with the motor and transmission out of his own bike. Over the weekend, Joswig had clutch problems and ran 11.354-105.05.
Former Champion Dave Peters cracked a cylinder head and ran 12.522. Dave Buttery made a strong launch but then had a problem mid-track and ran 13.630.
Parnell set new ACU ET and speed records when he beat Joswig in round one of eliminations with figures of 6.705 at 206.93. The new records are 6.676 at 206.93.
Crane had a starter nut fail and that left Paget a bye run. Belt broke off the start line against Richard, who ran 6.941-194.53. Crossley broke on the start line and Leeks ran a personal best of 6.974 at 188.14.
Parnell damaged a valve and was a no-show for round two, so Paget had another bye run and ran his best of the weekend at 7.466-177.14. In the other semifinal, Leeks beat Richard 7.051 to 7.429.
Could the Pro Stock bike of Paget win the Funny Bike class? Paget pulled a redlight and Leeks won his first ACU event with a 7.013-188.92.
Both Tony Clark and Eric Jennes damaged their motors before Comp Bike qualifying even started. Six Dutch riders qualified for the sixteen-bike field.
Scott Collier ran personal best figures of 7.376 at 182.88 to top the field.
Sean Mills ran 196.39 to improve his ACU speed record.
Jeroen Van Den Belt ran a p/b of 7.652-185.80 for number three spot.
There were also personal bests for Dave Batcheler (7.790-164.39), Thurtny Martina (7.826-182.88), Dave Batcheler riding the championship-winning bike from last year (7.827-166.15) and Martin Walker (188.13).
Sigmaro Profas had gear shift problems during qualifying and ran 7.858-182.80. Paul Hambridge had a new paint scheme and posted a 7.876-181.37. Sam Sykes had a new set-up and ran 7.8 in testing and qualified 7.904-182.87. Newcomer Chris Neary ran 7.975-178.58 with a p/b speed.
Valentijn Sandtke had boost and fuel issues and ran his first seven-second pass at 7.975-178.52. Margot Schmidt ran 8.077-172.41. Mick Winyard was next with an 8.123-181.41 followed by Phil Leamon’s 8.350-158.56. Holland’s Ben Antonia riding the ex-Bas Groothuis bike was on the bump spot at 8.597-165.44.
Pro Stock bike rider Ian Burns has a striking new paint job, but broke the transmission in the pits and couldn’t get it fixed for qualifying.
Both Collier and Antonia ran p/bs in their E1 race—7.320-184.24 for Collier to Antonia’s losing 7.992-175.69. Profas led from start to finish with a 7.746-182.14 against Hambridge’s 7.882-173.70. Batcheler ran another p/b 7.765 to beat Schmidt’s 7.996. Sandtke ran p/b 7.931-180.66 to beat fellow Dutchman Martina. Mills ran 7.463 at 198.91, which was too fast for a speed record, but did back the 196.39 for a new ACU speed record. Sykes redlit against Walker. Van Den Belt beat Winyard, who ran a p/b speed of 183.64. Bergelin edged out Neary, who ran p/b speed of 179.93.
Round two and Profas ran a personal best of 7.606-193.88, but couldn’t stop Collier reaching the semifinals. Batcheler redlit against Sandtke, who ran another p/b of 7.924-180.67. Mills beat Walker, who ran a p/b of 7.761. Bergelin got out the gate first, but slowed at mid-track against Van Den Belt, who took the winlight.
Collier reached the final after knocking out Sandtke. In the other semi, Mills had trouble down track and Van Den Belt was in his first ACU final.
Collier redlit and Van Den Belt ran his best ever figures of 7.518-187.42 to win his first ACU event.
Super Street Bike
Former champion Garry Bowe damaged another engine during testing and a mate of his brought the necessary parts down to the track on Friday night. The team decided to go back to last season’s set-up and ran 7.028 at 207.02 for number one spot.
Reigning ACU Super Street Bike Champion Richard Stubbins was next with a 7.060-204.25, followed by a small group of Graham Balchin at 7.131-203, Daniel Lencses’ 7.146-202.
Rudolfo Maduro had done some testing with his clutch set-up and ran p/b of 7.173 at 195.
Stephen Mead ran his first 200 mph plus during testing and ran personal best figures of 7.189-202.57.
DME Racing’s Steve Venables set a new ACU speed record of 207.24. Newcomer Mark Dainty ran p/b 7.566-189.02. Dave Smith has fitted an air clutch and ran 7.627-195.55. Jemma Venables had boost issues and ran 7.723-188.93. Graham Dance’s crankshaft broke and was out of competition. Chris Reed ran 8.037 and Steve Wood had front wheel bearings fail after an 8.343 run.
Bowe had a bye run to open eliminations and ran 7.018. But an oil seal was worn and leaking, and just like that Bowe was out of the show.
Dainty redlit against Steve Venables, who ran a new ACU speed record of 209.06. Lencses and Stubbins had bye runs. Maduro ran another personal best 7.149-198.12 to beat Jemma Venables’ 7.734 at 192.93. Balchin led from start to finish against Reed, and Mead beat the ever-improving Smith with a 7.527 at 196.41.
Round two and Venables reset his ACU speed record to 211.10 on a bye run. Lencses ran a p/b of 7.082 against Maduro, who got very close to the centreline at mid-track and had to ease off. Stubbins had another bye run. Balchin ran a p/b 7.099 to beat Mead’s 7.197-200.67.
Venables set a new ACU ET record of 6.925 with a jaw-dropping 215.12 mph against Lencses, who also recorded p/b 7.044 at 209.84 in the first semifinal. In the other semi, Balchin ran a stunning 7.048 –205.32 personal best (quickest Kawasaki ZX12 in the world) to beat Stubbins’ 7.062-206.02.
Before the final, Venables did some clutch adjustment and then redlit against Balchin, who won his first event of 2018.
Jay Roe was the number one 8.50 qualifier with an 8.506, just ahead of reigning 8.50 champion Jake Mechaell’s 8.509, with Ian Chrichlow running 8.513.
Chrichlow went on to win the event, beating Mechaell in the final, 8.519 to 8.537.
It was a very tight 9.50 qualifying field, with Brent Cordelle on top at 9.540, followed by reigning champion Richard Sawatzki’s 9.557, Stacey Reed’s 9.560, Leo Lester’s 9.563, Lewis Burgess’ 9.566, and Dave Hall’s 9.568.
But it was round one winner David Bowe who won the event when Cordelle redlit.
Dave Grundy was the number one ET qualifier and reached the final to face reigning champion Phil Pratt. Phil went on to win the event with a 9.268 (9.03 dial in) to Grundy’s losing 12.322 (11.37).
The final Pro Mod qualifying session produced some stunning numbers. Andy Robinson ran 5.867-246.37 personal best figures and an ET track record. Kev Slyfield also ran p/bs 6.045-234.07. Wayne Nicholson’s 6.296 and Bobby Wallace’s 6.209 were also p/b. Phil Englefield was celebrating 30 years of racing and ran a personal best out of the trailer 6.191.
Robinson ran a bye in round one of the eliminations, a 5.889-245.16 to back up and set a new MSA et record of 5.867. Wallace ran another p/b 6.189 to beat Englefield.
Robinson was leading in the semifinal race against Wallace, but then broke at mid-track and Wallace took the winlight. Michel Tooren won the other semi.
Tooren took his first MSA event win with a 6.109-237.76, beating Wallace who ran a p/b speed of 227.76.
Reigning champion Colin Millar ran the quickest ET for an Outlaw Anglia of 7.372 at a p/b speed of 184.37 in the final qualifying session. Jed Guy was the number two qualifier at 7.778. Paul Hensher’s 7.918 just edged Scott Crookston’s 7.934 for number three spot.
Hensher ran a personal best of 7.523 in round one of eliminations against Mick Taylor. Millar beat Phil Middleton in the first semi 8.153 to 8.712. Guy ended Hensher’s weekend in the other semi 8.098 to 8.512.
Millar turned up the wick and ran 7.412 to back-up and set a new ET record 7.372 with another p/b speed of 184.39 to win the event against Guy, who ran 8.095.
photos and story by Steven Moxley