ACU National Finals at Santa Pod

story and photos by Steven Moxley

Comp Biker Tony Clark

Showers delayed the start of the ACU National Finals at Santa Pod, and then an incident with a Pro Mod car added to the late running of the event. But the Santa Pod track crew did an excellent job to get two of the planned three qualifying sessions completed, which saw some riders racing down the track at night for the first time and some produce their personal best performance. Two of the classes (Funnybike and Pro Stock bike) had their championship decided with one round still to go.

Funnybike

ACU Funnybike Champion Stuart Crane

Funnybiker Frances Eric Richard ran a superb pass in the dark to take number one qualifying spot with a 7.684 at 178.48 mph.  Championship points leader Stuart Crane was next with 7.833-167.94.

Dave Peters did a test pass on the Friday and was still having clutch issues. In qualifying, he ran a best of 7.888-177.80.

Having taken most of the year to get the bike ready, Nick Daniels made his first appearance of the season, having fitted a new crankshaft, wastegate and plenum chamber.  The datalogger has now been wired up and he did a test run on Friday without nitrous and ran 8.1 at 159 mph. He qualified with an 8.047-164.25, but had a problem with the plenum chamber.

Stefan Schmidt is starting to get a handle on the nitrous system he’s using and ran a personal best of 8.133 at 162.48.  Dale Leeks has now sorted his electrical problem and is starting to tune the bike and ran 8.669-170.44.

Thomas Joswig was back again, hoping for a better performance than he did at the SummerNationals. He has fitted a new PMFR wheel, which has improved the handling of the bike and gained better grip from the tyre. He has also rewired the bike for the new engine. He had two half blocked injectors which slowed him down during the qualifying sessions and ran a best of 9.483 at 133.35.

German Funnybiker Stefan Hagerstein made his debut at Hockenheim riding the ex-Alex Rose bike. Rose was helping Hagerstein set up bike at the National Finals and ran a best of 10.909-153.62.

Richard powered past Hagerstein in the first round of eliminations to progress to the semifinals with 7.467 at 179.19,  which was low ET and top speed of the meet. Daniels put a holeshot on Schmidt only to slow at the 80ft mark, then chased after Schmidt but couldn’t pass him as Schmidt’s 8.135-159.09 beat Daniels 9.413-171.09. Joswig had more fuel problems at ¾ track against Crane, who ran a p/b of 7.481 at 173.72 to Joswig’s 10.968. Peters got his clutch right for the first round of competition with a winning 7.578-177.12 against Leeks’ improving 8.385-171.74.

Richards broke in the burnout box of the semis, leaving Schmidt a bye run to the final. Schmidt ran a p/b of 8.077 at 159.60. In the other semi, the crowd was hoping for a great race between Peters and Crane. But Peters broke on the start line, leaving Crane to solo through 7.767.

Schmidt got a slight advantage at the start of the final, but Crane powered around to take the win and—more importantly—the ACU Funnybike Championship with 7.745 to another p/b 8.042 from Schmidt.

Pro Stock Bike

Mark Smith and crew

There were a few problems during qualifying in Pro Stock Bike, where two of the three competitors had mechanical issues. Mark Smith led the field in the one qualifying session with a 7.998 at 169.18 mph. Reigning champion Len Paget hurt his motor at ¾ track and ran 8.593-107. Jerry Collier also had problems and slowed to (walking pace)19.003.

Both Smith and Collier broke the beam to go into the final.  Come the final and only Smith came to the line and ran 7.712-171.71 to win the event and the ACU Pro Stock Bike Championship for the first time.

On Friday’s test day, Alex Hope—son of Pro Stock Bike rider Chris Hope—tested Richard Gipp’s Pro Stocker (the one Jerry Collier rode in the National Finals) and ran a best of 8.33 at 166mph.

Comp Bike

Jemma Venables

After the delay after the Pro Mod car incident, the Comp bike riders came to the line for the second session of qualifying and put on a great show in the dark, with a few riders recording personal bests. Allan Davies stormed down the track and lit the bulbs with figures of 7.606 at 171.11 for a p/b.

Jemma Venables did some testing on Friday and ran a personal best of 7.49-191mph. She led the field in the opening session, but couldn’t find that tune up and had to settle for 7.710-188.21.

Phil Crossley was another rider to run a p/b at night with figures of 7.724-167.32. Tony Clark improved to 8.122-164.26 for fourth. In fifth spot was newcomer Kevin Osman with a 8.191-177.83. Osman did run a p/b speed of 179mph on a slower time during qualifying.

Harold Wolfenden was next with an 8.295-167.31. Phil Leamon ran 8.348-155.23 just ahead of two-time 8.50 bike champion Mick Winyard, who has built a Comp Bike in six months from scratch and did some testing with a best to date of 8.16. Winyard qualified with an 8.467-173.07.

Lizz McCarthy didn’t make the field for this round

Looking from the outside was Dave Batcheler who had clutch problem and ran a best of 9.461-124.76. Stunningly, championship points leader Lizz McCarthy had an electrical problem and didn’t qualify with a 15.664. So with McCarthy out, this was a chance for many riders to close in on the championship leader.

Kevin Osman

Davies was first up in eliminations and took advantage of Winyard’s slow start by taking the win 7.838 to Winyard 8.503.  Clark led from wire to wire against Osman 8.353 to 8.967. It was the same story for Venables against Leamon, 7.569 to 8.328. Crossley beat Wolfenden his best run of the weekend 7.763 to 8.248.

Davies turned the wick up against Clark to reach his second final with a winning time of 7.666 at 171.73. Clark pulled a wheelie at the 150ft mark and ran 8.118-159.09. Venables ran a jaw dropping 7.442-192.14—her personal best ET and unofficial speed record—against Crossley’s 7.812-161.31.

All eyes were on Venables in the final. Could she set a new speed record and win her first ACU race? Davies had other ideas and put a .057 to .157 holeshot on Venables, who nonetheless powered around Davies and just took the winlight with a 7.533 at 190.54.  That backed up her earlier run and set a new speed record. Davies was right there at the finish with a 7.646 with a p/b speed of 173.06. The result means both riders have a mathematical chance of the championship.

Super Street Bike

Danny Cockerill

Graham Balchin led the small Super Street Bike field with a 7.330 at 197.99. Teammate Steve Venables (Jemma’s dad) was close behind with 7.369-196.28. Snapping at their heels was Pete Field with 7.386-190.60. FIM European Super Street Bike Champion Garry Bowe led the next pack with a 7.530-187.43. Next was Chris Reed’s 7.576-193.05 and Danny Cockerill’s 7.621-188.84. Germany’s Peter Grancia had done some chassis mods to calm down his bike and ran a best of 7.783 at 184.37. Mark Wells had his spare motor in the frame for this meeting and ran 7.846-184.25. Stephen Mead was still dialling in his new bike and ran 7.989-173.06. Martin Wilson was off his normal pace with an 8.497-179.21, and Steve Woods had a troubled run of 14.504.

Peter Grancia

Wells had a very slight advantage off the start line in eliminations, but then pulled a wheelie at the 80ft mark and Balchin took the win with 7.707. Bowe came from behind to beat Reed 7.594 to 8.055. Venables turned the wick up and beat Grancia with a storming 7.306 to 7.773. Best race of the day saw Field pull two wheelies at the 1/8 mile mark and hold on to take the winlight 7.408-195.38 to Cockerill’s 7.465-193.88.

Pete Field

Balchin ran low ET of the event 7.257 to beat Bowe, who pulled a wheelie at the 150ft mark. Field redlit against Venables in the other semifinal, so it was an all-Ven Racing final. That was decided at the start line when Venables redlit and wasted a 7.263. The win gives Balchin a slim points lead going into the finals over Venables.

NAST Round 7

Gas

Terry Green led the Gas field with a time of 9.774 at 135.64 mph. Robbie Dobbie was next with a 10.493-133.27. Making his first appearance of the season was Martin Holgate, and he qualified with a 10.536-128.82 but had a cylinder head gasket leak.

The final went to Green with a 9.672 to Dobbie’s 10.400. The win puts him on top of the championship with one round to go.

ET Bracket

Reigning champion Peter Harrison topped the qualifying table (dial-in 11.15) and ran 11.169. Giselle Moor was close with 15.288 on a 15.20. Mike Nelthorpe qualified in the top half of the field with 13.286 (13.00). Simon Clamp was next 11.297(10.85) followed by Brett Cordelle’s 12.038 on an 11.42 dial.

Fiona Moor last competed in 2008 in Comp Bike and before that Super Street Bike. This year she returned to the saddle at the Open Sports Nationals, competing in Sportsman ET. At the National Finals she qualified on the bump spot  with a 16.017 on a 13.50 dial.

Mike Nelthorpe’s bike sporting some unique bodywork and ram-air solutions

Clamp had gear shift problem at the 200ft mark against Harrison, who took the winlight.  Giselle Moor red lit against Cordelle.  Fiona Moor broke out against Nelthorpe.  Harrison had a bye to the final.  In the other semi-final Cordelle had a better start line reaction and took the win.   The final was decided on the start line with Cordelle having a better reaction and held on to take the win light in a close race against Harrison, who became the 2013 NAST ET Bracket champion.

Brett Cordelle’s clean machine

Top Fuel Bike

Steve Woollatt and Nick Milburn did some testing during the weekend. Woollatt was trying to sort out the clutch, which has been causing some issues this season. He ran a best of 6.503 at 202.45. Milburn has been having handling problem at mid-track and was trying to sort it out for next season. He ran 9.161.