story and photos by Steven Moxley
Crowd’s pour into Santa Pod like….well, unfortunately like rain
The opening round of the six round series of the ACU Championship kicked off over the Easter Bank Holiday with the Festival of Power at Santa Pod Raceway. It was also the first round of the European FIM Cup for Super Street Bike. The weather was dry but windy during qualifying and rain stopped the event midday on raceday.
Top Fuel Bike
Christian Jager getting ride of the shakes
Steve Woollatt has fitted an air operated clutch set-up over the winter. Opening qualifier saw magneto problem and after that Woollatt laid down a 6.544, clicking off early with a speed of 173.69 mph to top the field. SuperTwin rider Christian Jager was testing at the event and sorted out his tyre shake, which he suffered a lot last year. Jager ran a best of 7.781 at 128. Rene Van Den Berg had handling problem for most of the weekend and qualified with 8.619.
Rene Van Den Berg’s fuel bike is intense!
There was an international flavour in Funnybike, with riders from Holland, Germany, Greece and Czech Republic.
Filippos Papafilippou has lengthened the wheelbase of his Pro Mod bike for better 60ft and 1/8 mile times, resulting in a personal best 1/8 mile of 4.21 at 173 mph (previous 4.29-166). He qualified with a 7.002 at 149mph (clicking off at ¾ track).
Gary Jones (near lane) and Maarten Zijlstra
Making a welcoming return to the ACU Championship was Gary Jones, who qualified in number two spot with 7.188 at 187.42—top speed of the meet. Reigning champion Stuart Crane was next with a spare motor in the frame and a 7.305 at 173.06. Dave Peters uprated his clutch plates and fitted a heavy-duty Robinson gearbox and ran 7.455 at 170.41.
2012 Champion Maarten Zijlstra has fitted a 12 inch rear tyre, 5 speed Robinson auto gearbox, lowered the compression of the motor and fitted a bigger cylinder head. He qualified with a personal best of 7.750 at 169.16.
Dale Leeks is sporting Hayabusa bodywork for 2014 and ran 7.929 at 170.46. Germanys Thomas Joswig has fitted a C.D.I Motec ignition system and was looking for a clutch set-up, running 7.948 at 169.81.
The big Hoosier launches Bob Brookes
Bob Brookes was next with an 8.115 at 145.74, but the oil filter collapsed due to a fuel issue and some pistons and a liner were damaged. Brookes was out of competition.
Czech rider Jiri Lukes
Czech rider Jiri Lukes had fitted a cooling system to his Funnybike and repaired the cylinder head he damaged at last year’s meeting. New clutch has also been fitted resulting with p/b figures of 8.324 at 163.09.
Stefan Schmidt has now got fuel injection fitted and tested on Friday, then put nitrous on and damaged the motor on Saturday with a 8.693 at 142.03. Harold Wolfenden bought Al Young’s bike the day before the event and ran a best of 9.019 at 153.64. Hollands Viep Bloemen suffered clutch issues all weekend.
Lukes came in as first alternate for Brookes in the opening of eliminations and faced Papafilippou. Philippos was late on the tree as Lukes had a better reaction (.271 to .479), but Papafilippou powered around and clicked off early with a 7.482 at 150.14 against Lukes with another p/b of 8.291 at 162.47.
Peters staged and then rolled back, thus putting a redlight on the tree against Zijlstra, who slowed to 9.920 win.
There was a bizarre incident in the next pairing. Jones’ dump valve came off after he did his burnout and Joswig rolled up to the start line only to be shutdown by the start line crew for a fluid leak.
Sturat Crane (near lane) and Dale Leeks
It was an all Warpspeed race in the last pairing, with Crane putting a huge holeshot (.084 to .420) over Leeks, and taking a holeshot win 8.007 to 135 to Leeks’ quicker but losing 7.893 at 171.09.
Pro Stock Bike
Len Paget led Pro Stock qualifying with a 7.573 at 171.11, but a valve retainer broke and that put him out of the show.
Reigning champion Mark Smith suffered electrical gremlins on the first day of qualifying, then had an issue with the two-step. He finally got the bike sorted and qualified with a 7.832 at 171.77.
Alex and Chris Hope
Alex Hope, son of former rider Chris Hope, rode his fathers bike and got quicker as the weekend progressed. He qualified with a best to date of 8.056 at 159.09.
Allan Davies just piped Phil Crossley for the number one qualifying spot in Comp Bike, which saw both riders recording personal bests—7.581 at 175.73 for Davies and 7.585 at 167.31for Crossley.
Tony Clark has modified the rear spring of the suspension and was tuning the chassis over the weekend, running 7.702 at 177.76.
Kevin Osman (near lane) and Tony Clark
Kevin Osman has fitted a C.D.I. Motec ignition system and ran a personal best of 7.861 at 182.88. On another run he ran a p/b speed of 186.00, top speed of the meeting.
Class newcomer Robert Fields has come up from 8.50 bike. He qualified with a 9.457 at 157.93. Dave Batcheler had a clutch issue all weekend and ran a best of 9.922 at 148.14.
There was a shock in round 1 of the eliminations when Davies broke just off the start line and Batcheler took the win with a 9.536 at 148.63, then had a semifinal bye to the final.
Crossley had a bye run when Fields was a no-show, and took the winlight with a 7.666 at 169.17. Clark put a holeshot over Osman, who fishtailed at the 150 foot mark and could not catch Clark, who took the win with a 7.926 at 176.44 to Osman’s 8.177 at 184.37.
Super Street Bike
ACU champion Graham Balchin boiling the hide
Super Street Bikes were the stars of the weekend, with records set and reset and many personal bests recorded in both the ACU and the FIM classes.
Reigning ACU champion Graham Balchin’s weekend did not start well. He had dirt in his fuel system, but got the bike sorted on the final day of qualifying and led the field with a 7.203 at 200.65—under the ET record.
Long-time Eatmyink video watcher Steve Venables
Steve Venables was another rider who had problems from day one. First, he damaged his transmission and changed the motor only to find a water leak. So they took the motor out and made one motor out of two. Balchin helped out and the team finished at midnight. Venables ran 7.225-with a p/b speed of 204.24.
Pete Field ran his first 200 mph plus at the meeting, and then every run after was in the 200 mph bracket. Field set both ET and speed records during qualifying of 7.242 at 203.38.
Just behind Field was European FIM Champion Garry Bowe with 7.247 with a p/b speed of 198.80. Bowe has fitted an NLR side mounted turbo and intercooler kit. He has also fitted an NLR air clutch system.
Malta’s Luke Farrugia
Richard Hann had a few small problems and ran 7.589 with a p/b speed of 189.79. Malta’s Luke Farrugia was the number six qualifier with 7.595 at 192.95. After a late night of changing motors. Chris Reed ran 7.680 at 189.80, only competing in the ACU championship.
Newcomer to Super Street Bike was Jemma Venables who had moved up from Comp Bike. Venables tested the day before the event and damaged the header, so dad Steve asked Jon Webster and Jake Mechaell for help and got them welded. Jemma then ran a p/b speed of 194.61 with a time of 7.724.
Mark Wells has modified his frame and fitted an NLR ignition module, and ran 7.755 at 190.59 p/b.
Daniel Lencses had help from Mogens Lund with rewiring the bike and mapping fuel. Lencses was also having launch issues during qualifying and ran 7.845 at 185.13.
Dave Thomas is another newcomer to Super Street Bike moving up from 8.50 bike. He has fitted a Hays slider clutch and was looking for a set-up, running a best of 8.059 at 183.62.
Steve Wood has altered the riding position (further forward) on his bike and qualified with 8.677 at 153.69. Erich Gruber had clutch problems and ran 11.037.
Graham Dance had a weekend to forget. A tappet broke on test day and then the transmission broke in the first FIM qualifying session. With no spare motor, Dance was out of the show.
Balchin had a lucky break in the first round of the eliminations when on a bye run. The motor’s oil pressure dropped very low, so Balchin broke the beam. He later found a sensor was the cause of the fault.
Thomas had a bye when Bowe started his burnout and the motor went pop with a broken camshaft. Hann powered around Lencses to take the win with a 7.538 and another p/b speed of 190.58, to Lencses’ losing 7.817 with a p/b speed of 191.42.
Steve Venables sent a warning shot to everyone with ACU record breaking 7.210 at 205.10 against Gruber, who had got a set-up for his clutch with a 9.598.
Best race of the day saw Reed put a .027 to .084 holeshot over Jemma Venables, who overtook Reed and took a close 7.639 to 7.774 win. Field was .176 to .354 late on the tree against Wood but stormed down the track and ran p/b figures of 7.231 at 205.06 to Wood’s improving 8.484 at 171.74.
Farrugia stunned the crowd when he pulled a wheelie at the 150ft mark and kept the power on, then came down at mid-track and took the win against Wells with a 7.194 at 199.67 (p/b figures). Wells slowed to 10.224.
And then rain stopped the event at this stage.
Super Street Bike
2012 European FIM Cup champion Graham Balchin set a new FIM Cup ET record in the during qualifying with a 7.193. Teammate Steve Venables was next with a 7.213-203.33 (top speed).
FIM Cup champion Garry Bowe
Reigning FIM Cup champion Garry Bowe went quicker in the FIM class than the ACU class, with a p/b of 7.219 at 192.22. Bowe recorded a p/b speed on a later run of 199.80, with a slower ET. Just behind Bowe was Pete Field with another p/b of 7.224.
Shaun Buttigieg from Malta was competing for the first time at Santa Pod, and had help from Stephen Mead and by phone from Walter Sprout in the States. Buttigieg had some launch issues but then ran p/b figures of 7.235 at 195.46.
Fellow Maltese rider Luke Farrugia was two tenths behind with 7.439 at 192.96. He would have been closer when he ran 7.255, but one of his crew had a blue line violation and the run did not count.
Mogens Lund has redistributed the weight around his bike and was rewarded with p/b figures of 7.481 at 195.44.
Last year’s runner up Dave Holland has now got onto E85 fuel, an air clutch system, and an AMS2000 from NLR. The team just ran in FIM Cup and struggled, running a best of 7.548 at 160.21.
Jemma Venables was next with a 7.582 at 193.87. Richard Hann ran a 7.631 with a p/b speed of 192.22. Then came Mark Wells with a 7.835 at 186.65. Erich Gruber ran his best run of the weekend 7.923 at 176.44. Next up, Daniel Lencses’ 8.082 at 171.05.
Racing for the first time at Santa Pod was Dennis Junge from Germany. Junge started racing in Super Street Bike in 2012. The bike has been built by Junge with an MTC lock-up clutch and a Garrett GTX 35/71 turbo. Junge was looking for a clutch set-up over the weekend and only competed in the FIM Cup, running a best of 9.413 at 160.80.
Another rider just racing in the FIM Cup only was Switzerland’s Sandro Haldimann. He has altered the bodywork over the winter to sit in a lower ride position and also modified the transmission. He had trouble with the clutch and 1st to 2nd gear had a noise, resulting with best figures of the weekend of 9.748 at 149.05.