FIA European Drag Racing Championships with FIM Europe Drag Bikes
Santa Pod Raceway
May 26-29, 2023
The FIA Main Event Drag Racing 2023
Words and photos by Ivan Sansom & Rose Hughes
Bouncing back post-pandemic and after Brexit, the FIM-E European Dragbike championship awoke from its winter slumbers spectacularly at Santa Pod Raceway, England. The bikes grabbed several event highlights over the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend with the facility packed on Saturday and Sunday for the four rounds of qualifying before the assembled classes headed into eliminations on the Monday.
FIM-E Top Fuel Bike
The opening two qualifying sessions on Saturday had Neil Midgley and Rene van den Berg in one and two spots with 6.054/201 and 6.065/216.15 respectively and not too much else to report apart from reigning champion Rikard Gustafsson getting over 250mph on a 6.19 (big speeds from the RG Engineering bike would be a theme for the weekend) although his second shot came at the expense of a valve and a lot of work overnight.
Sunday was a whole lot better for the field. At the sharp end, Midgley and Gustafsson traded blows with the Swede pushing into the 5.7s with a 5.7674/244.09 followed by a 5.7905/219.27 from Midgley in the first session of the day (third overall), while Al Smith on the unique PBR Rocket triple posted a 6.0488/231.26.
The final session kicked off with Mike Olie running his first six with a 6.9236/201.51 from his ZX funny bike which many on site thought put him into the field until an overlooked line in the 2023 FIM-E rule book was consulted which meant the Dutch rider needed two six second tickets to enter eliminations.
Beneficiary of this exclusion was Thomas Petterson as first alternate after a 7.1 best.
Spots seven though to five were occupied by the funny bikes of Eric Richard (6.6626/204.42), Stuart Crane (6.6164/211/95 at the expense of a motor) and Mark Smith (PBing with a 6.5062/207.09). Van den Berg didn’t improve, but the final three passes of saw Midgley leap to the top with PBs of 5.7084/245.09, Smith confirm his third spot with a 5.9803/223.64 and Gustafsson also PBing with a 5.7424 at a huge 260.55mph.
Into eliminations and the quarterfinals went to the form book for the top two with Midgley handily covering Pettersson with a 6.0292/198.66 and Gustafsson still in the fives on a 5.8640/260.65 (the latter a new speed record and securing his position as second on the world TS list).
However, the Warpspeed duo of Crane and Smith (M) managed to vanquish their fuel bike foes with a most excellent 6.2522/218.14 from the former handling Smith (A)’s 6.2222/215.96, and a none-too-shabby PB of 6.4846/210.20 from the latter to cover an ailing van den Berg.
The final quartet matched fuel bike vs. funny bike in both pairs, with Midgley stepping up to a 5.847/215.84 (to defeat an ailing Smith) and Gustafsson used a 5.775/256.22 (to take out Crane’s 6.400).
Thus the crowd got the most anticipated final round of the event, with both teams turning it up, indeed a bit too much as they broke traction well before mid-track to record a pair of sevens (not the side-by-side seventies we’d hoped for) with Midgley taking the win light after a great leave (0.029s RT) and a stupendous 0.957s 60-foot clocking.
If you want to see some of the best fuel bike racing on the global stage, you could do yourself a favour and get over to Europe for the final three events of the season in August and early September. Those side-by-side seventies will happen, maybe at the forthcoming Tierp Internationals in just over a week’s time.
FIM-E Super Twin Bike
With four entries, qualifying wasn’t much of an issue for the Super Twin field as all would run on Monday, with Vesa Lipponen nipping ahead of Marcus Christiansen with a 6.2646/212.06 to a 6.2916/213.85 for the top two spots on the ladder.
Martijn de Haas (6.6368/202.36) and Chris van Nimmen (7.1698/188.21) would be hoping for a stumble from the leading two come race day.
The stumble would come from low qualifier Lipponen failing to fire handing a freebie to Chris van Nimmen who used a 7.030/205.19 to take his spot in the final and a long trip back home for the Finn. Christiansen rarely makes an error and the first round of eliminations would be no exception as he rumbled to a 6.291/225.92 over a slowing de Haas.
Onto the final and van Nimmen got a slight lead off the start line, but thereafter it was all the Dane who eased to a 6.224/224.75 for the quickest ET of the meet and give the rest of the Super Twin field food for thought as the tour moves to the Nordic class stronghold for the next two events.
FIM-E Pro Stock Bike
Four entries in Pro Stock Bike, so another all-run field with little pressure in qualifying apart from bragging rights.
However, Martin Newbury had to withdraw after setting class low ET of the event with a 7.1417 with gearbox concerns while waiting on a V&H shipment.
Second place qualifier (with a 7.2624/189.72) Bertrand Maurice defeated Martin Bishop (learning his way around the new EFI setup on his Suzuki), while Aswin le Noble took a bye thanks to Newbury’s no-show.
Maurice’s Suzuki has developed a habit of coming to a halt off the line in recent events and duly did so in the final.
In frustration, the Frenchman buried his head in his hands, having not spotted the red in the opposite lane for quite some time.
FIM-E Super Street Bike
Thirteen entries so an all run field for Super Street which stretched from Alan Morrison Jnr’s 6.7618/222.32 to Margot Schmidt’s 7.9339/183.62 at the end of qualifying. By the end of the event, five of the assembled field would have improved on their personal best marks, including Morrison Jnr and Schmidt (7.2552/203.33 in a losing first round effort), Peter Ostlund (7.278), Kristian Jasz (7.418) and Ross Morrison (6.926).
However, the trophy run off would be contented by the two low qualifiers, Morrison Jnr and Daniel Lencsés in a superb match up. Morrison Jnr had been consistently in the 6.8s in the earlier round but stepped up to a 6.7616 at a huge 230.22mph (new FIM speed record) which thanks to a holeshot kept ahead of a quicker and motor chewing 6.743/214.11 from the Hungarian reigning series champion.
FIM-E Junior Dragbike Cup
A super tight eight bike field bunched up with a 0.075s spread based on dial-ins from Harry Isaccs (+0.0039s on a 13.30 dial) to Richard Willcox (+0.0790s on a 9.40) suggested that the Junior trophy could be up for grabs across the whole class.
Indeed, it was Willcox that would underline the point, taking out Isaacs in the opening round and then 2022 Cup holder Hollie King at the semi-final stage before holding off Alia Lester in the final to lift his first FIM-E Cup trophy.
Remaining FIM-E rounds
*Junior Bike Cup rounds
- June 15-18 – Tierp Internationals, Tierp Arena, Sweden
- August 10-13 – Summit Racing Internationals, Tierp Arena, Sweden
- August 25-27 – NitrOlympX, Hockenheim, Germany*
- September 7-10 – European Finals, Santa Pod Raceway, UK*
— Scroll Down for Complete Round Results —
Day 4 – Eliminations
FIM TOP FUEL BIKE
W – Neil Midgley / 0.0294 / 7.2759 / 149.56
RU – Rikard Gustafsson / 0.1808 / 7.7420 / 169.81
FIM SUPER TWIN TOP
W – Marcus Christiansen / 0.1310 / 6.2244 / 224.75
RU – Chris Van Nimmen / 0.1071 / 7.1300 / 199.68
FIM SUPER STREET
W – Alan Morrison Jr / 0.0882 / 6.7616 / 230.22
RU – Daniel Lencses / 0.1822 / 6.7434 / 214.11
FIM PRO STOCK BIKE
W – Bertrand Maurice / 0.0220 / Aborted Pass
RU – Aswin Le Noble / – 0.0040 / 10.2367 / 129.45
JUNIOR DRAG BIKE
W – Richard Willcox / 0.1851 / 09.29 / 9.3709 / 68.49
RU – Alia Lester / 0.2837 / 13.06 / 13.1270 / 42.89
TOP FUEL BIKE
SUPER TWIN TOP
PRO STOCK BIKE
JUNIOR DRAG BIKE
Day 3 – Final Qualifying
Final qualifying from The Main Event 2023 at Santa Pod Raceway is completed. Most noteworthy of the day is Rikard Gustavsson setting the new FIA Speed Record, running 260 mph! Top Fuel #1 qualifier Neil Midgley also ran a mindblowing .951 60′!
Top Fuel – Neil Midgley / 5.7084 / 245.09
Super Twin Top Fuel – Vesa Lipponen / 6.264 / 212.06
Super Street Bike – Alan Morrison / 6.761 / 222.32
Pro Stock Bike – Martin Newbury / 7.141 / 184.32
Junior Drag Bike – Harry Isaacs / 13.303 / 46.98
- Neil Midgley / 5.7084 / 245.09
- Rikard Gustavsson / 5.7424 / 260.55
- Al Smith / 5.9803 / 223.64
- Rene van den Berg / 6.0655 / 216.15
- Mark Smith / 6.5062 / 207.09
- Eric Richard / 6.6626 / 204.42
- Stuart Crane / 6.6164 / 211.95
- Mike Olie / 6.9236 / 201.51
- Thomas Pettersson / 7.1034 / 164.85 – Not Qualified
Super Twin Top Fuel
- Vesa Lipponen / 6.2646 / 212.06
- Marcus Christiansen / 6.2916 / 213.85
- Martijn de Haas / 6.6368 / 202.36
- Chris van Nimmen / 7.1698 / 188.21
Super Street Bike
- ALAN MORRISON JR / 6.7618 / 222.32
- DANIEL LENCSES / 6.8635 / 218.25
- JAKE MECHAELL / 6.8801 / 217.95
- MATHIAS BOHLIN / 6.9864 / 213.80
- MOGENS LUND / 7.0177 / 206.26
- STEVE VENABLES / 7.0260 / 205.33
- ROSS MORRISON / 7.0691 / 191.40
- MARK HOPE / 7.0766 / 205.34
- PETER OSTLUND / 7.2784 / 189.02
- CLEMENS WALLEIT / 7.4863 / 198.09
- KRISTIAN JASZ / 7.5575 / 208.02
- STEPHEN MEAD / 7.7679 / 189.74
- MARGOT SCHMIDT / 7.9801 / 185.10
Pro Stock Bike
- Martin Newbury / 7.1417 / 184.32
- Bertrand Maurice / 7.2624 / 189.72
- Martin Bishop / 7.9122 / 173.71
- Aswin Le Noble / 12.0580 / 70.40
Junior Drag Bike
- HARRY ISAACS / 13.3039 / 46.98
- LEAH MORRISON / 11.4170 / 56.39
- ALIA LESTER / 13.1585 / 43.01
- HOLLIE KING / 9.4738 / 71.58
- BRAD MORRISON / 14.8179 / 43.14
- JAXON KING / 13.2398 / 45.62
- ANOUK BURGERING / 13.5214 / 49.52
- RICHARD WILLCOX / 9.4790 / 68.33
The FIA Main Event Drag Racing 2023 – Day 2
- Neil Midgley / 6.054 / 201.67
- Rene van den Berg / 6.065 / 216.15
- Rikard Gustavsson / 6.193 / 250.45
- Al Smith / 6.202 / 198.88
- Stuart Crane / 6.680 / 191.33
- Eric Richard / 6.769 / 199.87
- Mark Smith / 6.787 / 188.22
- Mike Olie / 7.329 / 188.14
- Thomas Pettersson / 7.572 / 122.43
Super Twin Top Fuel
- Marcus Christiansen / 6.315 / 220.35
- Vesa Lipponen / 6.478 / 208.00
- Martijn de Haas / 6.636 / 202.36
- Chris van Nimmen / 7.169 / 188.21
Super Street Bike
- Alan Morrison Jr / 6.818 / 221.13
- Jake Mechaell / 6.880 / 217.95
- Mathias Bohlin / 6.986 / 213.80
- Ross Morrison / 7.069 /191.40
- Daniel Lencses / 7.086 / 215.86
- Steve Venables / 7.237 / 151.16
- Peter Ostlund / 7.278 /189.02
- Mark Hope / 7.296 / 192.95
- Mogens Lund / 7.308 / 193.87
- Kristian Jasz / 7.557 / 208.02
- Margot Schmidt / 7.980 / 185.10
- Stephen Mead / 8.085 / 177.81
- Clemens Walleit / 17.616 / 42.98
Pro Stock Bike
- Martin Newbury / 7.141 / 184.32
- Martin Bishop / 7.912 / 173.71
- Bertrand Maurice / 9.475 / 93.09
- Aswin Le Noble / 12.058 / 70.40
Junior Drag Bike
- Harry Isaacs / 13.303 / 46.98
- Leah Morrison / 11.417 / 56.39
- Alia Lester / 13.158 / 43.01
- Hollie King / 9.473 / 71.58
- Brad Morrison / 14.817 / 43.14
- Jaxon King / 13.239 / 45.62
- Anouk Burgering / 13.590 / 49.26
- Richard Willcox / 9.479 / 68.33
The FIA Main Event Drag Racing 2023 – Day 1
European Season opens this weekend
This weekend sees the opening round of the 2023 European Drag Bike Championships at Santa Pod Raceway, England. The pits are rapidly filling up and the weather according to the forecast appears to be set fair for the whole weekend.
Nine entries in the headline FIM-E Top Fuel Bike eliminator means qualifying will mean something with four nitro burners and five funny bikes on the list including reigning champion Rikard Gustafsson back from Sweden to defend his crown.
Four competitors are at the facility for aiming for FIM Super Twin honours and what a four it is with great Dane Marcus Christiansen back with his injected bike and first twin into the fives Vesa Lipponen making his first visit to Santa Pod.
FIM-E Pro Stock Bike is also a quartet headed by current champion Martin Newbury back from a recent trip to the NHRA circuit no doubt picking up tips for the Psycleworkz Suzuki.
The FIM-E Super Street Bike entry is looking healthy at 14 with as wide a range of nationalities as we’ve seen in recent years, all of whom will be looking to knock Daniel Lensces off his championship pedestal.
The Juniors are also showing nicely with an eight bike entry led by 2023 FIM-E champ Hollie King.
Qualifying starts tomorrow and runs through on Sunday before we head into eliminations on Monday.
Santa Pod Raceway
Airfield Road, Podington, Wellingborough, Northants, NN29 7XA, England
Tel: 01234 782828 / International Tel: +44 1234 782828