Report NitrolympX- Hockenheim / Germany
EUROPEAN CHAMPION 2003 !
Holland, August 26 2003Under excellent summer conditions the
biggest event of the year (crowd wise) was held in Hockenheim
Germany. This state of the art venue has the best facilities
by far, with a formula one style pit area, free showers and
a smooth & wide track that has plenty of run off area.
This year it was the return of the official FIA & FIM/UEM
European championship rounds at this event.
It was a real shame however that bad mistakes were made during
the preparation of the track. This became clear not before
the first qualifying day and it rather looked like an ice
skating championship then a drag race event. Even Pro-Stock
bikes were having tire spin all over the quarter mile. In
fact it was even dangerous. For this reason the event came
to a halt several times that day. Well in the afternoon the
decision was made to halt from further qualifying and concentrate
on the track first. The also present organizer of Gardermoen
Raceway (who has the best prepared track in Europe) stepped
in by offering his expertise. With a lot of combined efforts
they tried to make the best out of it.
As we were sitting out the first
qualifying session anyway it didn't affect us in the first
place. We tried to figure out what would be the best setting
for our first attempt on Saturday. While the first cars &
bikes made their qualifying passes it showed that the track
had improved a bit, but traction was still far below average.
On our first pass we "drove
it out" instead of "nailing it from the line"
in order trying to make the best of it. Despite this and being
on and off the throttle several times, it smoked the tire
badly twice during that run. A pour 7.1 second @ 337 km/h
pass was the result. Still it was the best ET in our field.
The organizers nightmare scenario
continued as around noon the timing computer went down as
well. This forced them to replace it completely and qualifying
again came to a stop for another hour and a half.
Because of all these delays there
was only one more qualifying shot remaining. With the data
gathered during our first "slipping & sliding"
we adjusted the clutch system. In fact we took almost all
Because the track was improving
(very) slowly our last pass resulted in a 6.65 sec @ 327km/h.
Still a lot of tire spin and the bike was real "loose"
at the last part of the track which explains the low speed
at the top end.
Though this 6,65 is far below
our average, we obviously did better (or should we say "less
worse") than anybody else in our class as it was the
only six second pass and we remained the # one qualifier.
All in all qualifying was not
exactly what we expected in the first place, but at least
we were able to do better then our competion.
We won our first round (6.99sec)
on Sunday, however we had "detuned" the bike so
much that it even misfired (because of the very little load
on the engine). The good thing was that we learned that the
traction was starting to go in the right direction, so we
decided to take a few steps back towards a more "acceptable"
This proved to be a good decision
as not only did we win the next (semi- finals) round, but
we also resetted the track record (was already in our possession)
to a 6.37sec! The data showed that this was the maximum the
track could take. Also because there was little time between
the rounds, we left the tune up of the bike as it was for
the final round.
When it was time to fire the
engine for our final round appearance little did we know that
drama would struck this time as the engine refused to run
on nitro (Top Fuel bikes are always started up on methanol
and once running they are switched over to nitro).
We made two attempts and our
opponent Peter Bossert waited patiently (thank you once again
Peter!) As we couldn't find a reason why in the first place,
we were just about close from throwing in the towel as we
discovered that the (lanyard controlled) safety fuel shut
off was apparently accidentally hit, therefore totally blocking
the fuel transfer to the engine. After resetting this safety
valve the engine came to life. Pffffff..... a narrow escape,
we nearly had to give away this one!
Despite it slowed down to 6.43,
we won the final round.
Another perfect score; number
one qualifier, event winner & resetting the track record.
But hold on there's more.....
with still one more round to go we already clinched the European
Top Fuel Bike Championship title for 2003.
This is our third European championship title.
That last round of this season
will be as usual at England's Santa Pod Raceway in two weeks
time. Again a record number of top fuel bikes have signed
in for this event.
Being relieved from the pressure
of the championship title, this gives us a little more room
to play. No need to explain what our goal will be for that
Marius van der Zijden