FIM-E Championship 2016 : Top Fuel Bike Preview

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Santa Pod Raceway the Man Event

FIM-E Championship 2016
Santa Pod Raceway
May 27-30, 2016

The last weekend in May sees the opening round of the 2016 FIM-E Drag Bike Championship, with the Santa Pod entry list showing healthy numbers across the four Championship and Cup classes. A significant number of the 50 pro entries will be competing in the full series so without further ado we pass on the news from the two-wheeled fraternity who will be chasing down the 2016 titles.

Top Fuel Bike Preview

With eleven entries and all bar two of the Funnybikes having the prerequisite six-second tickets in the mix and match formula, qualifying at the season opener will prove to be a tense affair. There are some familiar names on the list, some not so recognizable, and a couple stepping up with new rides.

Reigning (and nine time) series champion Ian King is chasing his tenth in a pretty healthy place: “Gulf have renewed their contract as primary sponsor with King Racing, other sponsors stayed on board, Bell Helmets UK joined us for the first time – www.bellhelmets.co.uk. The changes to the bike are minimal, new titanium clutch parts, modifications to alleviate the sprocket failures and minor improvements. Our main plans are the FIM Championship, Goodwood and a possible tilt at an official FIM World Record at the end of the year.”

16-0524-fim-Ian-King-Rikard-Gustafsson

Ian King and Rikard Gustafsson

Parking up the super quick RG Engineering Funnybike for the year, Rikard Gustafsson will be on pop in 2016 with his new Puma powered nitro scooter: “After 6 years of building the bike was ready late last summer. After changing/upgrading some parts after the late season test last year, we went to Malmö [Sweden] to do some testing before Main Event and did our first full pass on the 1/8 mile with 4.02 @ 305 km/h and reset the 7 years old track record of Peter Svensson. It was almost unreal result for the first outing and I’m very humble that it will take some time before we could compete in the top level where we want to be. Our intention for the 2016 season is to learn and get to know the new bike, routines and how to keep it together. This bike is a complete different deal than my record breaking Funnybike.”

Fast Filippos Papafilippou has been tweaking things over the off-season “the ex-TFB-05, now TFB-03 300 Spartan Warriors PXM has a new body and new paintjob. No other major updates for 2016, since the bike had already more power than what we could put on the strip. Our target this year is to calm it down and improve on our setup and power management to the ground. I do all tuning and setup with the help of Nick Tzanidakis and his brother Michael Tzanidakis (Racetech by Tzanidakis Dragteam) and hopefully we will be able to run quicker and maybe get the bike in the 6.4’s.

Filippos Papafilippou

Filippos Papafilippou

The other bike that we support and race as team-mates is Glenn’s Borg funnybike (the General Lee). Glenn has been in the 6.8s in the past, but now we upgraded to a better body, improved the chassis in various areas and we hope to run in the mid 6’s as well. I believe we got the TFB-31 number on Glenn’s bike, which will have an all black carbon look with the new body. That’s the plan for 2016! We will race in all 3 FIM events and as many ACU [UK domestic series] events as we can.”

Glenn Borg

Glenn Borg

We caught up with Otto Knebl’s wife Yvona who gave us the low down on the Czech team’s plans for the year ahead: “With the ex-Brian Johnson Top Fuel Bike Imperial Wizard, Otto Knebl is ready again this year to attend the whole European Championship. At the Euro Finals at Santa Pod last year, we broke a gearbox and the result was not what Otto would have liked. During the winter there was a lot of work and when repairing the motorcycle, he found the main cause – a damaged pin in the magneto drive (!!!) with the ignition ‘working’ incorrectly with retard and advance being +/-10 ° out. Everything is now repaired and ready for the season. We believe that the Imperial Wizard will be ready and OK. We look forward to running in friendly England and the opening round”

Otto Knebl

Otto Knebl

The Warpspeed duo of Stuart Crane and Dale Leeks have been far from idle with their giggle-gas entries. Crane: “Well for 2016 I’m running a brand new bike with the latest in chassis technology it run’s a 14″ rim with a 10.5 tyre for maximum grip etc. The bike also runs a few other mods that are new to the class. My aim for this season is to become the fastest ever British rider to run nitrous oxide currently Chris Hall’s 6.89. Also I’m looking to try and run a sub 1 second 60 foot time with the bike.

Stuart Crane

Stuart Crane

The team “Warpspeed Racing” will be doing a full FIM tour including Hockenheim etc.” Leeks is also sporting a new ride: “As the underdog I’m coming out against some serious competition and with a new bike built specifically to get me that 6 second pass I’ve been hunting for, so hopefully I’ll get it… it’s there I just need to put it all together. I have a good mentor (Stuart Crane) but I have to do my job properly to make it all work we shall see”

Dale Leeks

Dale Leeks

Others on the roster for the Main Event include the fuel bike veterans Steve Woollatt and Rene van den Berg together with a pair of FIM-E rookies in the shape of Lorcan Parnell with the unique Storm compound turbo that has already hit the sixes and Eric Richard who has yet to do so with his Suzuki Funny.

For more information about the Main Event, visit Santapod.co.uk

Watch the Main Event  webcast Sunday 29th and Monday 30th  at http://www.santapod.co.uk/webtv.php

Story and photos by Ivan Sansom and Rose Hughes

2016 FIM-E Championship schedule

27th-30th May Main Event, Santa Pod Raceway, England
12th-14th August Kunmadaras, Hungary [Super Street Bike Cup only]
19th-21st August NitrOlympX, Hockenheim, Germany
8th-11th September FIA/FIM Finals, Santa Pod Raceway, England

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