UEM Dragbike Championship, Round Five
Scandinavian Internationals, Tierp Arena, Sweden
Words and pictures Ivan Sansom and Rose Hughes
Tierp Arena is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the quickest tracks in Europe, and by the end of the Scandinavian Internationals the ET records in all three UEM championship classes were duly set, not to forget the little matters of the world’s quickest Fuel Bike pass in history and the first UEM Super Twin pass in the six twenties. Although eliminations were ultimately washed out with the finals un-run, the first running of the Scandinavian Internationals will go down in European drag racing history as to reminisce about and say “I was there”.
UEM Top Fuel Bike
There can’t be many Top Fuel teams that have experienced a weekend like that of the Billet Racing/Team Starta of Peter and Sören Svensson. The unique fueler that has been on the circuit for a fair few years now has been significantly ahead of the European pack for a couple or three years since recording their first five in Norway during 2009, and started threatening to produce some jawdropping numbers in recent months. First run of the weekend was a 5.927 on a very early shutoff, second pass and, although things got a little wayward at the top end, it wasn’t too much of a surprise when a 5.709 at only 220mph (half track coming and going in 3.748/212mph and 1000 foot mark being reached in 4.758 at 238mph) flashed up on the boards given what had preceded it. Needless to say this low ET of the world mark would stand for low qualifying mark, despite Peter and Sören’s efforts on the Saturday. Sunday was raceday and a 5.860/227 clocked up a first round win over Kai Selkämaa (and would stand as the new backed up European record) and a 5.921 semifinal solo that involved some drivetrain dramas that would have called an end to their day had the rain not done it for them.
The person with the best seat in the house to view Svensson’s 5.70 was Rikard Gustafsson, whose 6.5 was largely overlooking in the euphoria of the moment. A 6.469 was enough to give Gustafsson third spot on the ladder and a 6.57 lit the finishline light over Peter Andersson Strom’s 6.80 in the first round and a 6.465 came alongside Nils Lagerhöf at the semifinal stage. The likely solo in the final would have been handy for Gustafsson in the points as he’d not been up to usual form since the season opener back in June.
Gustafsson’s opponent in the final four was a surprising Nils Lagerhöf. Not a surprise considered the Swede had made the final in Finland, but more because he’d slapped the left hand wall pretty hard on a qualifying attempt. Undeterred, the NCRacing team found sufficient bits and pieces to put the Hayabusa Funnybike back to a racing condition and gained a freebie into the semis when championship leader Ian King suffered an ignition trigger failure whilst trying to fire up the bike. Lagerhöf’s 6.592 on the solo was a PB by a substantial margin, and, although a further improvement to a 6.577 lost out to Gustafsson, the side by side numbers must be pretty close to the quickest funnybike pairing in history (and certainly outside of North America).
UEM Super Twin Bike
It’s been a long time coming, but the oldest ET record in the UEM books finally fell not once, but twice as two riders carded numbers that bettered Anders Charley Karling’s Super Twin ET record from 2004. Svein Olav Rolfstad would emerge with the new mark thanks to a spectacular first round 6.409/200 that the Norwegian would back up at the semi-final stage with a 6.455/205 and gain a spot in the un-run final. Next stop for Rolfstad and team-mate Jan Sturla Hegre is the November Manufacturers Cup meeting in Valdosta.
Rolfstad’s final round opponent would have been Nate Gagnon, the Canadian appearing in his fourth final round of the year which has pretty much locked down the 2012 championship for Big Kids Racing. The first round of eliminations saw a slice of help from Job Heezen who drifted and took out the timing blocks when appearing to be some distance ahead of Gagnon, but the semifinal win over V-60 travelling companion Samu Kemppainen in a 6.607/221 to a 6.642/214 was a barnstormer that just about ended Kemppainen’s chances to overtake Gagnon in the points.
Impressive though Rolfstad’s numbers were, the ‘mad’ finnish experimenter Jaska Salakari qualified low with a 6.452 that was better than Karling’s record, and then demonstrated just what numbers his unique (well, it would be one of a kind if the team didn’t have a clone) high gear blower bike would produce if both cylinders were kept lit down track with a first round 6.273/221. This was the first dip into the six twenties for the twins in Europe (Karling, Per Bengtsson and Salakari having picked up 6.3 tickets previously) and came with short numbers that were a click or so away from Salakari’s best and an early shut-off so there’s still more in the combination. Unfortunately, a smoke haze at the top end was a harbinger of doom as Salakari was a no-show for the semifinal match-up with Rolfstad.
Among the record setting and championship mayhem, Ulf Nylén had quietly lowered his PB ET to a 6.683 that secured Skutt fifth spot on the ladder. Although this would give him the honour of running alongside Rolfstad’s 6.40 in the opening round of eliminations, he kept the Norwegian honest with a 6.836 that pointed towards a degree of consistent go to match the show of the superbly turned out machine.
UEM Pro Stock Bike
The chase for the first six-second ticket in UEM Pro Stock Bike has been heating up lately, with Fredrik Fredlund (ably assisted at Tierp again by Gary Stoffer) making a serious charge at the barrier. Fredlund qualified low with a 7.025 (backed up by an earlier 7.05). The moisture in the air during eliminations held back raceday performance a tad with a pair of 7.1s gaining Fredlund a third final round spot in a row, placing him in a strong chasing position in the points especially given the UEM titles will be decided by the best five from six events this year.
Ulf Ögge, the current points leader, was also on sub-Euro record pace with a 7.065 before Fredlund nailed down the mark. Ögge took his place in his fourth final of the season with victories over Timo Savolainen and Elvira Karlsson, the latter with a 7.117/189 that would have given the Bikeline Buell lane choice had the rain held off. With the final championship round being conducted over this weekend at Santa Pod Raceway, things are warming up nicely.
Remaining UEM Drag Bike Championship rounds
September 6th – 9th FIA European Finals, Santa Pod Raceway, England
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