event: 2013 FIM European Finals
where: Santa Pod Raceway, UK
story and photos by Steven Moxley
Multi-time European champion Ian King
Chasing championships, riders and drivers were greeted with glorious hot sunny weather on Wednesday of the FIM European Championships Finals at Santa Pod Raceway in Northamptonshire, England. A few of them would do some testing before the event started on the following day. But the weather was set to change on the Friday to rain and cooler temperatures, and qualifying was delayed due to a shower and drizzle. Saturday and Sunday, big crowds witness some record breaking performances in both bike and car classes and many personal bests.
Top Fuel Bike
Multi-time European champion Ian King opened up qualifying with a 6.032. On Saturday in the third session he ran his first five in the UK (Ian ran a 5.98 in Tierp earlier this year) with a storming personal best of 5.964 at 232.57 mph to top the field. He missed the last session due to smoke coming out the breather pipe (piston rings).
The only man who could stop King winning the title was Funnybike rider Rikard Gustafsson. Now that his datalogger was working, he was looking for a good set-up for the track. After a brief shower in the last session, Gustafsson ran a jaw dropping 6.367 at 212.93mph to become the quickest Funnybike in the world.
Steve Woollatt had fitted a spare crankshaft after he broke a crank and bent four valves (two inlet and two exhaust) at the previous round in Hockenheim. Woollatt ran 6.640 at 214.00 at Santa Pod, but then suffered an oil pressure problem which put him out of the show.
Greek rider Filippos Papafilippou, a newcomer to the class, grabbed the attention of everyone at Hockenheim when he ran best figures of 7.010 at 195.22 on an ex-ADRL Pro Mod bike. The last time he raced at Santa Pod was in a Super Gas car 13 years ago. He recorded 6.99 on Saturday, then just before Gustafsson’s record run he ran personal best figures of 6.715 at 196.31.
After freshening up the blower for the Hockenheim event, Otto Knebl recorded his first ever six- second pass of 6.851. He was looking for his first 200mph pass and that didn’t take long when he ran 6.998 at 202.46 in the opening session. On the next session he ran his quickest time to date of 6.756 at 192.22.
Rene Van Den Berg has had a season to forget and on Friday they broke a crankshaft after qualifying with a 7.118-203.37. They worked on the bike all day Saturday ready for the eliminations, fitting a spare motor and with some valves off of E1 opponent Ian King. Berg put a holeshot on King, who powered around to take the win and the championship with figures of 6.255 at 181.34 to Berg’s superb 6.547 at 216.16—the bike’s quickest.
It was Gustafsson from start to finish in his race against Knebl, who drifted close to the centreline at ¾ track and ran 6.813-196.40 to Rikard’s 6.593-207.92. With Woollatt out, Papafilippou had a bye to face Gustafsson in the next round. Papafilippou put a holeshot on Gustafsson and took the win with 6.934 at a p/b speed of 196.39 to reach his first FIM final. Gustafsson ran 7.013 at 185.86. King eased to the final with a bye run of 6.687.
Papafilippou got out the gate first in the final, but had a problem at mid-track and slowed as King powered pass to take the win with a 6.213 at 200.66.
SuperTwins has always been the most competitive class of the FIM Championships and this year was one of the closest finishes in history.
Championship points leader Ronny Aasen was on a storming run when he started to drift to the wall at mid-track and clicked off the throttle and ran 6.599 at only 169.82 mph. On a later pass a primary belt broke.
Samu Kemppainen has been having intermittent clutch issues for most of the season, and it came back to haunt him during qualifying. He still managed a 6.871 at 180.68 to claim number 2 spot.
Martijn De Haas
Martijn De Haas missed the opening two rounds of the championship due to the delay of parts. Martijn and his brother Joeri designed a new crankshaft, which was constructed in Belgium with new PRP cylinder heads, an MSD ignition system and new intakes. They were tuning the bike on a soft set up before tuning in the power, qualifying with a best of 7.137 at 171.75. But he did run 200.78 with a slower time of 7.187.
Finland’s Vesa Lipponen has done very well in his first full tour of the championship, including a runner-up finish at the opening round of the championship in Tierp. Lipponen rides the ex-Bill Furr “Dixie Hammer” which Karl Thiecke and then Stefan Iwanowitsch rode before Lipponen bought it. He has had some clutch issues during the season and ran a best of 7.230-190.55.
Another rider who has designed his own crankshaft is Roman Sixta, who got his crank constructed in the Czech Republic. Sixta has also fitted a new injector and intake, with the result of a personal best of 7.402 run at Hockenheim. For the European Finals he was looking for a clutch set-up and qualified with a 7.928 at 183.58.
After winning the previous round in Hockenheim, Job Heezen was hoping to qualify better than his 8.065 at 182.11. He had fitted new wheelie bars, changed the mounting for the motor, and was looking for a set-up to cure a handling problem.
Christian Jager was another rider looking for a set up to suit the track. Fitting a new clutch and fuel management systems at the start of the season, last years’ number 2 plateholder is using this season as a learning curve to get different set-ups for each track of the championships. New cylinder heads were fitted for the Alastaro round. Here at Santa Pod, Jager qualified with a 8.163 at 128.34.
Aasen had a bye run in eliminations and at the 1/8 mile mark lifted a cylinder head. Lipponen got out the gate first against Sixta, who’s motor sounded lumpy off the start line. Lipponen progressed to the next round with a 7.381 to Sixta’s 9.113.
Kemppainen got a lucky break when he smoked the tyre off the start line against Jager, who redlit. Heezen put a huge .190 to .506 holeshot on De Haas, but at the 150ft mark started to have handling issues and De Haas caught and passed Heezen to end his championship challenge. De Hass ran 7.259-169.81 to Heezen 7.583-195.55.
Aasen was a round 2 no-show against Lipponen, and that meant Lipponen had to win the event to become champion by a single point. In the other semi-final, De Haas redlit against Kemppainen, who found a clutch set-up and ran 6.825 at 191.40.
So in an all-Finnish final, Lipponen got out the gate first .168 to .230 but Kemppainen had got ahead by the 1/8mile mark and took the winlight for the second time this year (first win at Alastaro) with a 6.769 at 206.02 to Lipponen’s 7.241-193.86.
Kemppainen winning the event gave Ronny Aasen the 2013 FIM SuperTwin Champion by two points.
Pro Stock Bike
At the start of the 2013 season of racing, many people said the first European, Pro Stock Bike 6 second pass would happen this year. Fredrik Fredlund was the first European to record a 6 in the USA. And in the second round of the championship held at Alastaro, Finland, Fredlund reset the ET record with a 7.005. Elvira Karlsson reached the semifinals in Hockenheim and became the quickest European female bike rider of all classes when she recorded a personal best of 7.069. Two weeks before the European Finals, Karlsson again recorded personal best figures of 7.027 at 189.89. In the opening round of qualifying at Santa Pod, Karlsson ran 7.029 at 186.62—her first number one qualifier in the FIM Championship.
Reigning champion and championship points leader Fredlund was trying different needles in the carbs of his ex-Karen Stoffer motor, which has run 6.82, and ran a best of 7.077 at 185.83.
Ulf Ogge has had a bad season with engine and transmission failures this season. New cylinders and modified heads were fitted for the new set-up of this event, which resulted in best figures of 7.109 at 184.32.
Karl-Heinz Weikum built a new bike at Paul Gast’s workshop last year and fitted a new two-valve cylinder head to the 1655cc motor. He won his first ever FIM event at Tierp and then reset the speed record at Hockenheim at 190.67mph. He had some clutch issues at Santa Pod and ran a best of 7.162 at 185.13.
In fifth spot was Karl Lyren with 7.214 at 183.58, but he damaged two engines. The first damaged the cylinder head (hole in a combustion chamber) and on the second engine a cam chain broke and also broke a camshaft, and he was out of the show.
Gert-Jan Laseur tried a different exhaust during qualifying and found he was down on horsepower to suit the new pistons and intake ports he has been working on for this meeting. He fitted the old exhaust and ran a best of 7.370 at 175.07.
Martin Bishop damaged his 1755cc Vance&Hines motor in Hockenheim, so he fitted a 1640cc motor, which he rebuilt and had been sitting in the corner of his garage for three years. He did three runs on Wednesday of 7.44, 7.40, and 7.38. But he had a clutch problem and a top end problem and qualified with a 7.430 at 176.44.
Reigning ACU Pro Stock Bike champion Len Paget had to build one motor out of the two he damaged at Hockenheim (broke a crank and damaged a cylinder head) and qualified at Santa Pod on the bump spot with a 7.755 at 165.26.
Making a return to the class on Richard Gipp’s Stocker was former NAST Gas champion Jerry Collier, who suffered handling problems during qualifying and ran 7.765 at 167.92. Mark Smith was another rider who had engine damage when he dropped a valve on his 1755cc Vance&Hines motor and had to fit the ex-Chris Hope 1640cc motor for the eliminations as second alternate 8.126-164.87.
Collier came in as first alternate for Paget, but could only watch as Karlsson stormed down the track and ran a personal best of 7.011 at 187.38 (top speed of the meet).
Roger Lyren couldn’t sleep and got up at 5:00am and started to repair one of the damaged cylinder heads, and then got the crew up at 7:00am and rebuilt an engine for eliminations. It paid off when his son Karl took the winlight with a 7.145 against Weikum, who had a crankshaft break.
Bishop put a holeshot on Fredlund, who powered past to win the race 7.038 to 7.394 and become the 2013 FIM Pro Stock Bike champion. Ogge broke after his burnout, leaving Laseur a 7.320 to 172.39 bye run.
In the first semi, Lyren got out the gate first but Karlsson got to the finishline first 7.091 to Lyren’s 7.245. In the other semi Laseur put a big .012 to .112 holeshot on Fredlund, who passed Laseur when he slowed at ¾ track, to take the winlight 7.047 to 7.595.
History was made in the final when Karlsson came from behind against Fredlund and ran a jaw dropping 6.998 to win her first FIM event and become the first European Pro Stock rider to run a six-second pass in Europe, and also the first European female rider to record a six-second pass on two wheels. Fredlund’s time was 7.050.
Super Street Bike
On Wednesday’s test session Steve Venables ran the quickest time for a Super Street bike of 7.188 at a personal best speed of 203mph. In qualifying’s cooler conditions, Venables couldn’t repeat the performance and ran a best of 7.227 at 200.63. Teammate Graham Balchin recorded a 7.200 in testing, but he also didn’t have the cool weather performance and qualified with a 7.291 at 202.43—top speed of the meet.
Pete Field had a new motor built by former ACU champion Richard Stubbins and ran a p/b of 7.377 at 193.78. Second-in-points Garry Bowe was in fourth spot with 7.404 at 188.94, just piping points leader Dave Holland’s 7.405. Holland won the first two rounds (Santa Pod and Hockenheim) and was suffering from a water leak.
Not far behind them came Thomas Grancia, who built a new motor for this event and ran a last ditch qualifier of 7.461-188.92. Danny Cockerill ran 7.467 at 182.84 with gearshift problems in fourth gear.
Danish 2013 Super Street Bike champion and EDRS South champion Mogens Lund won his first FIM event at the previous round in Hungary, and ran a personal best of 7.521 at 194.70 in Santa Pod qualifying. But had no top gear for the eliminations.
Graham Dance ran 7.660-189.01. He is one of two riders who runs on E85 fuel, and had a fuel pump fail and didn’t have a spare pump, which put him out of the show.
Stephen Mead made his first appearance of the season with an all new McIntosh chassis with old bodywork (new bodywork due in the off season). Mead tested three weeks before this event and damaged his motor, then repaired it for this meeting and ran 7.666 at 180.67.
Daniel Donat Lencs had to change his motor just before qualifying started and qualified 7.731-187.44. Peter Grancia ran back-to-back p/bs of 7.76-179 and 7.740-183.62.
Erich Gruber ran his first 7-second pass with a 7.85 in Hungary. At the European Finals he went even quicker with a 7.801 at 184.30.
Dave Smith tested before this event and ran a best to date of 7.50-194 on E85 fuel, but his best at Santa Pod was 7.822 at 190.54.
Mark Wells has now fitted a Gen 2 clutch for the first time and also rewired the loom after suffering a voltage drop (seven volts). Wells qualified with an 8.018 at 179.96, but on the last pass he had a head gasket blow, which put him out of competition.
Making a welcoming return after a nasty accident 15 months ago. Richard Hann debuted a modified Hayabusa chassis with a DME swingarm, first rider in the UK to run the new NLR AMS2000 boost controller, bodywork from the USA, and also a brand new NLR billet side mount turbocharger system. The bike is wired up by Brad O’Connor. Hann would like to thank the other racers for offers of help and encouragement to get back on the track. He was on the bump spot with 8.032-171.74.
On the outside of the show was Leif Larsson, who was competing at Santa Pod for the first time and qualified 8.074-179.25. The last qualifier was Paul Hambridge with 8.254-153.66.
Venables eased past Hann 7.269 to 8.077 in the opening round of eliminations. Lund held off Larsson, who was first alternate for Dance, 7.687 to 7.932. Gruber slowed at mid-track against Bowe. Peter Grancia led at the 60ft mark and then slowed against Holland, who ran 7.428-195.44. Balchin drifted to the wall at ¾ track against Hambridge (who was second alternate for Wells), but took the winlight 7.506 to 8.548. Cockerill knocked out Mead 7.480 to 7.769. Field ran another p/b of 7.373 over Smith 8.041. Thomas Grancia had a wild ride with two big wheelies at the 300ft mark and the 1/8mile, then got close to the wall, but held on to beat Lencs 7.977 to 8.538.
New Super Street champ Garry Bowe
Venables went slightly quicker 7.249-199.67 to beat Lund’s 7.572-189.02 in E2. Next up was the championship decider—Holland verses Bowe. At the 30ft mark, Bowe pulled a wheelie and then Holland’s engine threw a conrod at the 250ft mark. Bowe won the race and became the 2013 FIM Super Street Bike champion. This was his first ever championship title.
Balchin turned the wick up against Cockerill and won with a 7.383. Best race of the day saw T. Grancia win on a holeshot against Field, 7.436-194.72 to Field’s quicker but losing 7.401-193.70.
Venables beat new champion Bowe 7.418 to 7.781 to meet out going champion and teammate Balchin in the final, after Balchin knocked out T. Grancia 7.351 to 7.445. Venables led from start to finish to win the event 7.253-197.26 over Balchin 7.317-197.08.
Congratulations to the FIM Champions: Top Fuel Bike Ian King, SuperTwins Ronny Aasen, Pro Stock Bike Fredrik Fredlund, Super Street Bike Garry Bowe.