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FIA/FIM European Finals : Event Preview from Santa Pod Raceway

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European Finals, Santa Pod Raceway, FIM-E Event preview

Words & Pictures: Ivan Sansom & Rose Hughes

The 2016 FIM-E Dragbike championship comes to conclusion this weekend back where it started at Santa Pod Raceway, England at the prestigious European Finals. The meeting also represents the culmination of the 50th Anniversary celebrations of one of the oldest continuously operating tracks in the world so a bumper weekend on and off track is in propect.

From Friday evening through Saturday and Sunday the event will be broadcast on a free channel here: http://www.santapod.co.uk/webtv.php


 

FIM-E Top Fuel Bike

The Top Fuel Bike points have three riders vying for the championship with Ian King (currently ahead with 155 points) followed by Rene van den Berg and Rikard Gustafsson both on 111 but with the Dutch rider ahead thanks to his event win at the NitrOlympX at Hockenheim, Germany, last month. With similarly powered PUMA based entries and all three having recorded their PB numbers this season, it could be quite match-up although with twenty points available for each round win, together with final qualifying points, King would have to qualify poorly and then go out in the opening round of the eight bike field to open the door for the others to deny the British rider a tenth European title. Eyes will also be focussed on the scoreboards as we can anticipate Gustafsson (current PB 6.024) becoming the second Swede into the five second zone if the RG Engineering fueler hits the sweet spot and van den Berg could be closing in on the quickest numbers for a Dutchman if he can lop over a tenth off his 6.161 from Germany (it is not that long a stretch given how the numbers for the Euroil backed Shark Attack team have tumbled this year).

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FIM-E Super Twin

In Super Twin it looks to be a head to head between 2015 champion Martijn de Haas and 2014 title holder Samu Kemppainen as Ronny Assen is mathematically done in third spot. Kemppainen is the form horse with the Victory V60 Skull Racing entry, undefeated at European and Nordic level since dropping his front wheel on the timing blocks in eliminations at this event in 2014. The Finn has also been producing some solid 6.4s (which were one of the subsidiary aims for this year) with a best of 6.483 in recent meetings. The de Haas brothers would seem to be on the back foot in their title defence with over two elimination rounds to make up, but confident in having removed the gremlins that slowed them down earlier in the year we wouldn’t be surprised if they dipped into the 6.5s for the first time over the weekend.

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FIM-E Pro Stock Bike

A nine bike entry will restrict the points available in Pro Stock Bike to three rounds of eliminations and the ancillary qualifying points, which will provide extra focus for Alex Hope (on 113 points) and Fredrik Fredlund (112) as they try and close the slightly intimidating gap that Gert-Jan Laseur has thanks to his win in Germany and early season points leader Hope falling at first round of eliminations. Hope has had a new bullet delivered to Santa Pod that could propel him into PB territory, whilst multi-time champion Fredlund will be seeking the tweaks to the combination that will put the PAF Suzuki back to the performance levels he enjoyed last year. However, Laseur also has the benefit of Star Racing’s Jackie Bryce being in attendance and we’d be surprised if she didn’t provide some tips and advice to the Dutch G2 Buell backed by Eurol/Zodiac/Jongerius Amersfoort/Star and Icon that could help him secure his first European title.

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FIM-E Super Street Bike

The Super Street Bike Cup points chase is a bit more convoluted than in the other three classes as the additional round in Hungary, together with what should be a 16 bike ladder based on the number of entries, there is considerable scope for movement, but it is likely that the 2016 title holder will come from one of Rick Stubbins (currently in the lead on 188 points), Shawn Buttigieg (177), Steve Venables (174), Garry Bowe (166) and Thomas Granica (the German being a longer shot at 143). With British trio of Stubbins, Venables and Bowe all on their home track we can anticipate a record or two falling if the weather and track conditions are right (it would be good to see more joining the Euro Six Second Club, current membership: Steve Venables on his D.M.E. Hayabusa) and perhaps these are the favourites, although Buttigieg will be keen to break the UK hegemony in the class.

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Remaining FIM-E Championship rounds
8th-11th September: FIA / FIM Finals, Santa Pod Raceway, England

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