It was a very emotional and testing four day meeting at Santa Pod Raceway for the European Finals, round four of the FIA and FIM Championships. The country was in mourning over the death of the Queen on Thursday—the first day of qualifying. Also on the same day, drag racing lost Jon Morton, who had recently been inducted into the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame. Jon, who had raced both bikes and cars for many years, passed away in the pits and will be sorely missed. There was a two minute silence for both over days of the meeting.
As for the meeting, rain affected all three days of qualifying. Both the FIM and FIA classes only completed two of the four planned sessions. Special mention to the Santa Pod track crew, who worked tirelessly preparing the track and were rewarded with two world records and championships records, and riders recording personal bests.
Top Fuel Bike
Coming through the gates of Santa Pod, Rene Van Den Berg had a six points lead over Rikard Gustafsson fot the Top Fuel Bike championship. Gustafsson sent a message to the rest of the qualifying field that he wanted this championship and ran back to back 5.8s with a best of 5.828 at 244.21 mph.
Neil Midgley was next with a 5.976-204.30 and running well. Al Smith ran a soft set-up in session one, resulting in a 6.22, and then ran 6.149-213.07. Eric Richard debuted his new bike a couple of months ago and ran a best -o-date 6.681-199.75. Stuart Crane was testing new alloy conrods he produced at the event, but the teeth broke on the crankshaft and he was out of the show after running 6.804-194.70. Cranes’ teammate Mark Smith had a gear shift issue in the opening session, but got a time in the next session of 6.928-161.89. Points leader Van Den Berg had troublesome qualifying sessions and ran 8.126-107.55 when a belt broke.
Gustafsson had a bye to the semis, as did Richard, when Crane was a no show and Eric recorded a personal best of 6.598. Next was an all-Smith (not related) affair. Al on the three cylinder fuel bike ran 6.298-224.64 to beat Mark, who ran a p/b 6.754 on his Funnybike.
So all eyes on were Van Den Berg as he faced Midgley. Van Den Berg’s weekend went from bad to worse, when he started to burnout and the blower belt broke. Midgley soloed to 5.974, and that meant Gustafsson was the 2022 European FIM Top Fuel Bike Champion.
Having the title secure, Gustafsson set an FIM Championship speed record of 252.25 in his semi-final win over Richard. In the other semi, Midgley beat Smith 6.126 to 6.350.
The huge crowd were hoping for a side-by-side five second passes. Midgley put a .098 to .132 holeshot on Rikard, but Gustafsson powered around to take the win 5.935-250.99 to Midgley’s 6.221-172.43.
Super Twins Fuel Bike
Marcus Christiansen only had to qualify to retain his SuperTwins Fuel championship, which he did with a 6.258-222.55.
Martijn De Haas had a cam timing issue on the rear cylinder head, but that didn’t stop him from running a career best of 6.505 at 209.94.
Chris Van Nimmen was looking for a baseline for his clutch and had a great launch, only for his motor to cut out and did not make the finishline. On his next pass there was a technical issue with the timing system and then rain came. Sadly, Van Nimmen did not qualify.
In the final, Christiansen turned the wick up and ran 6.211 at a new FIM Championship speed record of 230.37 to become Europe’s first V Twin, normally aspirated motor to run 230plus mph. Looking to run a 6.40, De Haas ran 12.376 after overpowering the track at 60 feet.
Pro Stock Bike
Pro Stock Bike was the only bike class to get three qualifying sessions before the rain fell.
Points leader Martin Newbury had to travel to Sweden to purchase a motor from Robert Karlsson in between round three in Germany and this event, and fit the motor in his bike. With a 7.212 number one qualifier. It was enough to win his first European FIM Pro Stock Bike Championship. Dave Beck was the last UK rider to win the title back in 1994.
Martin Bishop had a busy time with his clutch and an electrical fault, but managed a 7.668-172.44. Aswin Le Noble was on his fourth motor (1570cc) and ran 8.531. Former champion Bertrand Maurice has had a season long issue with launching off the start line and only managed to qualify in the last session 9.081.
Bishop beat Noble in the first semi 7.661 to 8.469. Newbury did not run, leaving Maurice a solo to the final with a 7.353.
In the final, Bishop’s carbs dislodged during the burnout and went onto three cylinders, leaving Maurice another solo run to the winner’s circle with a 7.355.
Super Street Bike
The Super Street Bike class put on a superb performance to the huge crowd attending the event. Daniel Lencses had a twenty point lead ahead of Mathias Bohlin. Lencses ran 6.682-221.20 and in the second session was part of the quickest side-by-side in Europe with a 6.75 to Steve Venables’ personal best figures of 6.703-224.41. During qualifying Venables had part of the rear bodywork come off and managed to control the bike and safely stop in the shutdown area.
Jake Mechaell was testing some parts and ran 6.859 with a p/b speed of 215.13. Garry Bowe stunned everyone with am out-of-the-trailer 6.871 p/b at 211.09.
Mogens Lund had a mathematical chance of the title coming into the event. He ran a p/b of 6.946-212.03.
Bohlin was looking for a baseline for the bike and ran a best of 6.992-206.10. Alan Morrison Jr had a new swingarm and the team were still sorting out a handling issue going into raceday, after qualifying with a 7.008-190.58. Ross Morrison was still having gear shift issues and ran 7.159-202.56. Mark Hope had his swingarm repaired and rear wheel off his brother Alex’s bike, running 7.230-198.12 for ninth. Stephen Mead was next with a 7.329-196.41 followed by Margot Schmidt, who had a new Pulsar Turbo, and her best 7.881 with the new combination. Steve Wood had the help from Danny Cockerill and Dan De’ath and ran 8.134-179.25. Rudolfo Maduro had repaired his motor (conrod broke at Green Light Nationals) but suffered an oil leak—which was repaired—and then a part broke on the suspension, but managed a time of 9.197.
Lencses had an E1 bye run of 6.743-22.21. There was an all-Morrison family affair in the round, and Alan left first and took the win 6.984-207.07 to Ross’ 7.073 with a p/b speed of 208.18. Bowe’s 7.034 eased pass Schmidt, who ran her best to date 7.821. Lund beat Mead and Venables trailered Maduro. Mechaell beat Wood, who ran his best of the weekend with an 8.004-179.25. Bohlin lost to Hope when he pulled a big wheelie off the start line.
Into Round two and a shock result saw Lencses spin off the start line against Morrison Jr, who ran 6.933-213.09. That let the door open to Mechaell and Lund, but they had to win the event.
Bowe had problem, while Lund ran another p/b 6.941-214.10. Venables had a bye to the semis but at the 1000 foot mark, a conrod broke and a huge fireball erupted. Santa Pod has never witness a fireball of a Super Street Bike. Venables managed to stop at a fire marshall point. He was ok, but the bike rear bodywork and parts were melted. Mechaell beat Hope in the last race of round two.
Semi-finals and what a close race the crowd witnessed between Morrison Jr—winning with personal best figures of 6.835-212.82—against Lund with another p/b 6.925 at 214.10. That ended Lund’s championship hopes. Mechaell broke the beam and had to win the final to become FIM Champion.
The final was another great race, with Morrison Jr. running another p/b 6.822-211.80 to take the winlight against Mechaell’s 6.914 at a p/b speed of 216.13. Daniel Lencses is the 2022 FIM Super Street Bike Champion.
FIA Championship Round 4
There was a small field in Top Fuel and Antti Horto was the only driver to hook up to the track in qualifying with a 3.821. That meant he had a bye to the final and became FIA Top Fuel Champion for the first time.
Both Susanne Callin and Ida Zetterstrom struggled with the weather conditions.
In the final Callin, ran a personal best of 3.885 to beat Horto’s 4.144.
Sandro Bellio—in his Monte Carlo Funny Car—led the field of Top Methanol Dragsters and Funny Cars with a 5.487-262.68 (Funny Cars have a 0.22 index) ahead of Daniel Jedborn’s 5.301-272.02 and championship contender Jonny Lagg’s 5.422-264.21. Linn Floysvik 5.684 in her Mustang Funny Car was fourth. Followed by Former Top Fuel driver Tony Bryntesson and Silvio Strauch.
In the semis, Bellio had a bye run to the final and ran 5.501. Lagg beat Jedborn in the other semi.
Bellio led the final from start to finish and became the 2022 FIA Top Methanol champion.
Reigning champion Jan Ericsson led the Pro Mod field with a 5.809-246.74. David Vegter was Ericsson’s nearest challenger in qualifying with a 5.896-242.86. UK ‘s Bobby Wallace ran a personal best 5.910-242.88 to just edge Michel Troon’s 5.914-246.37 for third spot. Roger Johansson was the last five second runner at 5.949-232.77.
Ericsson ran 5.805 over Kev Slyfield 6.104 in the first semi-final. In the other semi. Freddy Fagerstrom could not get his Chevy Pickup started, so Wallace went to his first FIA final.
Ericsson took the winlight in the final and was crowned 2022 FIA Pro Modified Champion.
Pro Stock Car
Just like Top Fuel, there were only three Pro Stock Cars entered for this event. Michael Malmgren was the number one qualifier with a 6.582-209.98 low ET of the meet. 2022 FIA Pro Stock Car champion Jimmy Alund was next at 6.613-208.17. Stefan Ernryd ran 6.723-206.10.
It was a close race in the final, with Malmgren using a killer .004 light and taking the win with a 6.615 to Alund’s 6.618.
Funny Cars have been running their own competition and Steve Ashdown was the points leader coming into this event. Ashdown equalled his personal best 4.475-244.03 ahead of Patrik Pers’ personal best figures of 4.561-208.16. Kevin Kent was the first car on the track Saturday morning and ran 4.738 with John Smith from the US tuning his car. Jason Phelps had some issues and ran a best of 7.085.
Kent deepstaged against Phelps in E1 and then had traction problem down the track. Phelps took the win 5.343 to Kent’s 5.784. That meant Ashdown was the 2022 Funny Car Champion.
Ashdown ran 4.499 over Pers’ mid-track wheelie run of 7.157. But in the shutdown area, Ashdown’s car went on fire. He got and was OK.
Phelps had a bye run in the final.
Nostalgia Funny Car
Five cars entered the Cannonball, which saw Paul Harris in the Chi Town Hustler Car record a personal best of 6.470-199.89 in the last qualifying round. Tim Garlick won the event with a 6.45 against Andy Raw’s VW Beetle Funny Car’s 6.69.
Eric Teboul and the Rocket Bike
It was not only an emotional meeting due to the death of the Queen and Jon Morton, but also this was the last event for Eric Teboul, who was retiring from riding his world famous rocket bike. He was interviewed on the start line on Saturday and he asked the crowd “Do you want a world record?” A huge roar of yes from the large crowd.
He stormed down the track to a 5.068 new world record. He came back to the start line and said he ran out of fuel on that pass and will have to add 1 litre extra for the next pass.
Sunday dawn could we see the first 4 second run in the world of a bike of any kind. Later that day, as he left the line, the thrust sounded different and then a 4.976-290.51. A huge cheer from fans, marshals, track crew and staff—all roared their approval! The former FIM Top Fuel champion and Euro-Series champion had become the first rider in the world to record a four second pass on a bike.
Thanks for the memories Eric and happy retirement!
story and photos by Steven Moxley