FIA European Drag Racing Championships – FIM-Europe Dragbikes
Santa Pod Raceway
May 24- 27, 2019
Words and photos Ivan Sansom & Rose Hughes
The Main Event over the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend marks the traditional opener to the FIM-E season, although the Super Street Bike class had already kicked off their championship tour in Hungary at the start of May. The pits were occupied by a number of familiar faces, augmented by returnees to the FIM-E tour (hinting at the emerging detente that has brought the Nordic countries back into the tour after far too long absence) and new contenders.
FIM-E Top Fuel Bike
After a hideous off in Germany last August, the return of Rikard Gustafsson and the RG Engineering Puma after a few months of healing and rebuilding was particularly gratifying, and the Swede quickly picked up where he left off with an ‘off the trailer’ 5.9155/234.87 in the first session.
Gustafsson topped the sheets in the remaining three qualifiers with a final session 5.8361/234.97 whilst behind him was something of a trail of destruction with Steve Woollatt creating a bit of a mess trying to improve in the fourth session on a 6.1878/215.89 whilst Rene van den Berg rodded the cases and lit her up on a flaming 6.2872/195.43.
In fourth was last year’s champion Filippos Papafilippou with a 6.3162/171.10 best, the Gulf Oils team embarking on a direct drive setup accompanied by substantial weight loss effort, some promising 3.9 second eighth-mile tickets will keep them working away at it.
Thomas Pettersson punted out a new PB 6.5242 to lead the funny bike quartet including Glenn Borg (6.8293), Dale Leeks (7.1104 from his new turbo setup), Stu Crane 7.2567) and, in as an alternate, Eric Richard (7.3425).
The opening session of eliminations saw Borg progress with a solo, Richard outrun Leeks, Papafilippou overcome a holeshot from Pettersson who subsequently slowed, and Gustafsson ride around Crane with a 6.088/238.72 for the best numbers of the round.
The semi-finals pitted Fil against Gustafsson and Borg against Richard, with the all funny bike pairing being the closer with the Maltese rider progressing to his first FIM-E final with a 6.8857/193.05 to a 7.0395/195.37, the ET advantage definitely being needed as Richard had left the line with nine hundreds of a second reaction time advantage. The nitro bikes on the top side of the ladder had Gustafsson back into the fives (5.9120/233.75) to cover Fast Fil’s 6.1759/205.33.
The final went to form with Gustafsson rocking out another five second pass (5.9555/242.54) to comfortably overcome Borg’s 6.9074/201.58 although both teams could take considerable satisfaction from this event; Gustafsson will go quicker before the season is out, but five fives and a pair of six zeroes on each hit of the throttle is pretty impressive stuff.
FIM-E Super Twin Bike
With nine bikes aiming for a spot on the eight bike ladder, the fourth qualifying session was a last ditch effort for multi-time series champion Martjin de Haas got in the field at the last with a mid-seven from the DJ chassised ride that is new for this year, leaving Christian Jager on the outside and Marc van den Boer on the bump with a 7.4372 best from his pro fuel entry (which will shortly be replaced by de Haas’s old ride).
The rest of the field was in the sixes, with Allan Davies (6.8064/192.20) and Gert-jan Laseur (6.7231/198.00) both recording PBs on their first visits to the six-second zone.
Hans Olav Olstad (6.6901/209.89) and Neil Midgley (6.6073/194.63) were at fourth and third respectively on their blown entries, whilst Samu Kemppainen (6.5527/214.90) and Marcus Christiansen (6.3867/215.10) held the top spots for the injected brigade.
Christiansen opened eliminations with a 6.531/203.35 to defeat van den Boer’s PB 7.286/175.07 and then used a 6.652/209.82 to cover Laseur’s centreline threatening 7.066 at the semifinal stage – Laseur having earlier run a 6.909 to earn his semifinal spot over Olstad’s 7.526 that spat a fuel line off causing a small conflagration.
Kemppainen and de Haas met had a six-second match up with the Finn lighting the winlight with a 6.651/211.89 while de Haas was very happy with a smooth and straight 6.929/199.88 as the Dutch brothers shake down the new ride. Midgley (7.046) progressed past Davies (7.207/196.41) in a blown V-Twin pairing. Kemppainen then defeated Midgley with his best run of the weekend at 6.526/216.89 to head to the final on Skull Racing’s return to European competition.
The final turned into a bit of a non-event as Kemppainen’s ride just stopped at the hit of the throttle whilst Christiansen rumbled to a 6.505/215.13 to add to the Dane’s rapidly increasing collection of FIM-E silverware.
FIM-E Pro Stock Bike
A returning Fredrik Fredlund was looking to add to his six championships and a 7.1165/188.19 to head the field after the second session suggested things were on track, but a smashed gearbox locked his Suzuki up whilst looking to improve in the next session. This put him out for the event and almost out of the next event although we understand a replacement transmission has been sourced just in the nick of time.
The remaining six qualifiers were led by 2018 champion Maurice Bertrand (with a new personal best 7.2704), Fredlund’s fellow traveler Janne Koskinen (7.3784), the British class veterans Len Paget (7.4382) and Martin Bishop (7.5426) and a pair of rookies in the eights in the shape of Swizz Kevin Feuz and France’s David Simon.
The wounded field wasn’t helped by Paget failing to move off the starting line in the opening round against Bishop who then locked up after crossing the finish line, Simon also only staged against Bertrand whilst Koskinen defeated Feuz with a 7.332/180.63.
The semifinal saw Koskinen benefitting from Fredlund’s assistance to run a new PB of 7.125/184.32 to handily cover Bertrand’s 7.497/179.26 whilst Bishop staged to take the win. It wasn’t too much of a surprise when the latter was a no show for the final and Koskinen produced a 7.233/185.01 on the solo to take the first FIM-E for the Finnish Sweet Cheeks team.
FIM-E Super Street Bike
Super Street Bike embarked at its second round for 2019 on the back of their season opener in Hungary which saw Steve Venables run the first six at Kunmadaras and Alex Hope taking his first FIM-E Super Street Bike event win after moving from Pro Stock.
The significantly over subscribed field for the Main Event came from across the continent and got close to delivering a record bump spot with a 7.6597/186.60 for Clemens Walleit that stood a reasonable chance of being improved on if the class hadn’t lost its final qualifier due to running up against the track curfew. At the other end of the field, Venables (sub Euro record 6.8766/201.55), Mogens Lund (PBing with a 6.9642/209.13) and Garry Bowe (6.9951/203.49) made up the top three heading into eliminations.
Eliminations were a bit funky on the lower half of the ladder, Lund losing out to Erich Gruber thanks to an ignition failure in the opening round, and reigning champion Rick Stubbins losing to Stephen Mead at the same stage.
A similar theme developed in the quarter finals with Mead breaking against Gruber and Bowe red lighting against Alex Hope, and it continued in the semis with Gruber progressing to his first final after Hope slowed leaving stuff on the track.
Top side of the ladder made a lot more sense with Venables (6.937/209.85), Graham Balchin (7.132/200.53) and Mathias Bohlin (7.192/192.95) progressing as the better qualified in their parings and Rudolfo Maduro (7.153/192.22) completing the quarter final quartet.
Venables remained in the sixes with a 6.953/208.91 to cover Balchin in the final 8 and then Bohlin with a 6.889/210.93 before rocking out a new FIM-E record with a 6.854/213.90 to draw a line under Gruber’s dream weekend.
FIM-E Junior Dragbike Cup
The Juniors season opener attracted four UK entries, with 2018 Cup holder Meggie Talbot qualifying closest to her index, with Blade Dummer second and Casey and Liam Holgate third and fourth respectively.
We’re not too sure what happened with Dummer’s new ride between qualifying and eliminations, but it added four seconds to his dial-in overnight which might have thrown others a bit of a curveball. However, a first round win over Holgate (L) and a breakout from in the final Meg give him an early lead in the points.
Remaining FIM-E Calendar
June 6-9 – Tierp Internationals
Tierp Arena, Sweden (Top Fuel, Super Twin, Pro Stock)
July 5-7 – FHRA Nitro Nationals
Kauhava, Finland (Top Fuel, Super Twin, Pro Stock, Super Street)
August 16-18 – NitrOlympX
Hockenheimring, Germany (Top Fuel, Super Twin, Pro Stock, Super Street, Junior Drag Bike Cup)
September 5-8 – European Finals
Santa Pod, UK (Top Fuel, Super Twin, Pro Stock, Super Street, Junior Drag Bike Cup)
Monday – Eliminations
Round 1 of the FIA/FIM European Championships is one of Santa Pod’s most prestigious Drag Race meetings. This hugely popular, televised extravaganza features over 200 teams and 17 classes of cars and bikes including the sports F1 class – 8000bhp Top Fuel Dragsters accelerating 0-100mph in less than 1 second, making this event unrivaled for both the quality and quantity of racing.
Top Fuel Bike
Winner Rikard Gustafsson
Runner-up Glenn Borg
Winner Marcus Christiansen
Runner-up Samu Kemppainen
Pro Stock Bike
Winner Janne Koskinen
Runner-up Martin Bishop
Super Street Bike
Winner Steve Venables
Runner-up Erich Gruber
Junior Drag Bike Cup
Winner Blade Dummer
Runner-up Meggie Talbot
Video Coverage – Eliminations
Video 1 of 4
Video 2 of 4
Video 3 of 4
Video 4 of 4
Sunday – Qualifying
Final qualifying is set for Round 1 of the Main Event. The biggest improvement for the day came from Rickard Gustafsson who improved from a 6.025 to a 5.836 to keep the number one qualifying position going into tomorrow’s eliminations. Check out more photo coverage from today – CLICK HERE.
Rikard Gustafsson / 5.836 at 234.97 mph
Marcus Christiansen / 6.386 at 215.10 mph
Fredrik Fredlund / 7.116 at 188.19 mph
Super Street Bike
Steve Venables / 6.876 at 201.56
Meg Talbot / 9.8423 at 65.5 mph
Sunday qualifying rounds in the videos below:
Saturday – Qualifying
After day two of the main event, top qualifiers are as follows. Steve Venables and Mogens Lund run the quickest side-by-side pass in FIM Super Street in Europe with a 6.876 and 6.964 respectively. They both held the quickest side-by-side pass previously with a 7.03 and 6.93. The weather for tomorrow doesn’t look perfect, but Santa Pod will do their best to get as many racers down the track as possible. Check out more photo coverage from today – CLICK HERE.
Saturday motorcycle qualifying rounds start at 25 minutes in the video below:
FIM Main Event – PRE REPORT
Words and photos Ivan Sansom & Rose Hughes
After a somewhat puzzling offseason with the 2019 championship calendar only being finalized after the first round in Hungary for the Super Street Bike class at the start of the month, the FIM-E Dragbike Championship rolls into Santa Pod Raceway, England for the Main Event and the opening round for the full roster of Top Fuel, Super Twin, Pro Stock, Super Street classes accompanied by the Junior Dragbike Cup. With the four-day event coming to a conclusion on the Bank Holiday Monday, Friday was a setup day with a number of new rides, class shifts and returning racers gathering in force in the packed pits.
FIM Top Fuel Bike
- Filippos Papafilippou
- Stuart Crane
- Steve Woollatt
- Richard Gustafsson
- Dale Leeks
- Mark Smith
- Eric Richard
- Rene van den Berg
- Glenn Borg
- Thomas Pettersson
Last year’s Top Fuel Bike champion Fast Fil Papafilippou has stamped his mark on the Gulf Oil Puma over the winter with a lot of weight saving evident (and no this is not just restricted to the carbon fiber bodywork).
FIM Supertwin Bike
- Samu Kemppainen
- Christian Jager
- Allan Davies
- Marcus Christiansen
- Gert Jan Lasear
- Hans Olav Olstad
- Martijn de Haas
- Neil Midgley
- Marc Van Den Boer
Similarly, the Christiansen family team that swept all before them in Super Twin last year have also been trimming the load in the search for quicker times with team patriarch ‘Speedy’ looking forward to seeing what numbers will come up on the board when Marcus defends his championship.
Also in Super Twin, the Dutch de Haas brothers have a ‘new’ Don Johnson chassis for this year with a lot of work to finalize the bike (retaining their previous motor and drivetrain set up) to make the season opener.
As well as recent class stalwarts, Samu Kemppainen has rejoined the action with his Indian Motorcycles backed V60, although the Finn won’t be running the full tour this year as the bike will be shipped over to Canada for the Pushrod Nitrobike World championship race in July.
FIM Pro Stock Bike
- Martin Newbury
- Martin Bishop
- Len Paget
- Fredrik Fredlund
- Janne Koskinen
- Bertrand Maurice
- Kevin Feuz
- David Simon
- Alex Hope
Another returning face is multi-time Pro Stock champion Fredrik Fredlund looking to regain the title from Maurice Bertrand this year.
FIM Super Street Bike
- Rick Stubbins
- Mogens Lund
- Steve Venables
- Graham Balchin
- Garry Bowe
- Ida Zetterstrom
- Mark Hope
- Rudi Zorzi
- Graham Dance
- Stephen Mead
- Erich Gruber
- Pete Field
- Steve Wood
- Daniel Donat Lencses
- Clemens Walleit
- Kristian Jasz
- Margot Schmidt
- Rudolfo Maduro
- Dave Thomas
- Mark Dainty
- Knut Moller
- Richard Yannick
- Robert Haggblom
- Mathias Bohlin
- Mikael Olen
As mentioned the Super Street Bike class had it’s opening round in Hungary at the start of this month, with Alex Hope bouncing back from a frustrating 2018 in Pro Stock with the event win to give his season a boost with the CBD Asylum Hayabusa.
Steve Venables has also produced some seriously quick early season numbers (including the first six-second pass in Hungary and the best numbers seen in Europe of 6.815 and 218.28mph in domestic Super Street action) suggesting that the DME Racing blinged Busa will be a very major player this year.
FIM Junior Drag Bike
- Megan Talbot
- Liam Holgate
- Blade Dummer
- Casey Holgate