FIM-E Event preview
Words & Pictures: Ivan Sansom & Rose Hughes
Anyone following social media covering the straightline sport in Europe will have surely realised by now that this weekend sees the 2016 edition of the world famous NitrOlympX at the home of the German F1 Grand Prix. In recent years trips to the Hockenheimring have come with a degree of trepidation if the NitrOlympX has followed the Grand Prix due to issues over the cleaning of the Rico Anthes Quartermile and the short preparation time, but this year it looks as if the track is in very fine fettle following a grinding and two weeks of sledding glueing sledding and yet more sledding so we can be very optimistic that this weekend will be a barnstormer in front of some of the biggest crowds seen at a drag racing event anywhere in the world.
The Saturday and Sunday of the event will be broadcast on a free channel here: http://www.santapod.co.uk/webtv.php
FIM-E Top Fuel Bike
As is pretty much standard for any series where Nitromethane provides the dominant form of go-juice, its been a mixed bag for the teams contesting the FIM-E Top Fuel Bike series coming into the NitrOlympX with championship leader Ian King looking to extend his points lead with the Gulf Oils/GPO Puma following on from yet another extremely successful display at the world renowned Goodwood Festival of Speed, whilst second place holder Rikard Gustafsson has been pounding the Nordic tracks in testing with the RG Engineering fueler with mixed results. Some excellent short times (in the 3s at the eighth is a very solid benchmark) but then crank issues arose during the same weekend at the reopening of the Gardermoen track in Norway at the start of August. Fortunately these have been fixed and we wouldn’t bet against the two going head to head in Sunday’s final despite the attentions of nine of Europe’s finest.
One rider looking to bounce back from a struggle at the Main Event back in May (was it really that long ago?) is Otto Knebl where oiling issues prevented a raceday appearance. “At the race at Santa Pod we damaged the oil pump, which caused a a loss of oil pressure and damage to the crankshaft. Repaired oil pump, repaired crankshaft, new bearings… we believe that everything will be OK. We look forward to friendly Hockenheim!
FIM-E Super Twin
Since the Main Event a number of the Super Twin teams have been contesting domestic and regional series all over Europe as well as putting some demo runs down. In doing so, some have chewed up a lot of metal on the way resulting in one or two unfortunate no shows at the NitrOlympX and others with a bit of a rush to make the event. By way of contrast championship leader Samu Kemppainen comes into the event in fine fettle with his Victory Motorcycles V60 Skull Racing entry, the Finn having dipped into the 6.4s early in the year and continuing a strong vein of form.
2015 champion Martjin de Haas will be looking to provide a stiffer challenge to the Finn at Hockenheim. “The Main Event gave us loads of small problems, giving the team a lot of hard work (and hard thinking) throughout the weekend to solve those problems which resulted in us not racing or improving that weekend but just working on the bike to fix stuff. We have replaced lots of stuff over the recent weeks and are still working to get the bike ready for Hockenheim. Looking forward to some good racing and fast runs!!”
We shouldn’t count out the Czech duo of Roman Sixta and Petr Cech from the running in what amounts to their ‘home’ event on the series, nor the thunderous blower bike of Ton and Vincent Pels with Ronny Aasen in the hot seat.
FIM-E Pro Stock Bike
The Stockers have a bumper entry that might end up with a 16 bike ladder, if this happens then the opportunities for some big moves in the championship will be available, which will grab the full attention of multi-time series champion Fredrik Fredlund and current second spot holder Gert Jan Laseur who will be wanting to make up ground on Alex Hope.
Hope, the championship-leader, as been busy riding his Super Street Bike in the Nordic series in between FIM-E rounds “we got off to the perfect start in FIM-E Pro Stock Championship and hoping to follow this on in Hockenheim. Made a lot of alternations to the bike for this race moving weight around to try improve the short times and get us closer to the front runners et’s in the 7.0 bracket. We will be using the same engine (dd is the engine name) that has been fully refreshed by crew chief and engine builder ‘dad’ [Chris] for Hockenheim as that which got us the win at the Main Event.”
Kenneth Holmberg owner and rider of the Swecomposite entry has had a less than satisfactory start to the year “After a little problematic start this season with a broken thumb and a broken engine at the Main Event. Crank, pistons, sleeves, valves and top-end were damaged. We managed to renovate the engine quickly before the Nordic races in Sweden and Finland. At the same time, we had great electrical and ignition problems. We managed to solve them in Finland. There remains a test in Norway before the big event in Germany NitrolympX, so now we sincerely hope that we get a good result after all the problems we had beginning of this season. With a PB end of last year of 7.11/306 km/h, we look forward to a good result in Germany after all the improvements we have achieved now. Really looking forward to NitrolympX with its convenient track, plant and atmosphere.” Unfortunately Kenneth’s woes didn’t let up at the aforementioned Norway test with a lot of scrap metal that seemed to bring the curtain down on his season, but we were pleasantly surprised to see Kenneth has made it to Hockenheim and will be in competition this weekend.
Bertrand Maurice is also back in contention this weekend with the French rider enjoying competing at the top tier of European drag bike racing “After my first race at Santa Pod with an old pro stock motorcycle (the chassis is an old Dave Schultz rolling chassis) and a Ward four valve engine, I will try and push my ETs below 7.3 and go as far as possible at the NitrOlympx and then finish the championship at Santa Pod. Thanks everyone who help me run this year!”
The UK’s Martin Bishop has been an underdog for quite some time, but always there wanting to win. “Breakages and not having enough spares to build a solid 2nd last year have really put us on the back foot into 2016. Now we have a strong engine and most of the parts to build a spare bullet for the round at Hockenheimring. For the most part the bike remains unchanged but we are constantly making lots of subtle changes to try and gain efficiency. The team will be slightly different for NitrOlympX as my no1 tech Timon Marshall can’t it make due to personal reasons, but we have the next best thing in the form of his brother Dan. Last year they worked very hard on the track and it showed, so we’re hopeful that we can get a good result this time for us and our sponsor Lucas Oils UK.”
FIM-E Super Street Bike
The central location of Hockenheim always draws in a multinational Super Street Bike field and, at 31 entries, the 2016 edition is no exception with entries from right the way across the continent, some of whom put down seriously impressive numbers on the Kumandaras airfield dragstrip last week and the British teams who have swept the board in recent years will come under some heavy pressure this weekend.
One of the more specific goals for the event is that set for veteran Steve Wood whose Hayabusa is somewhat distant from the NLR and DME derived bikes that tend to occupy the quick end of the European series. “Team Woody and crew are delighted to be racing with Super Street in Germany again and after a stressful start to the season are hoping to get back on track. With the discovery of a leaking plenum and resultant loss of boost last winter we are learning all over again. With our little GT28 turbo we are still hoping to break out of the 8’s and into the 7’s – the best we have achieved so far (8.07) has always been at Hockenheim. Let’s hope Woody can keep the front down and that we can get a bit closer to our goal!” We will certainly be keeping an eye on Steve over the course of the event.
We are also aware that some of the travelling drag bike community have had an interesting journey to get to Hockenheim with one race transporter breaking down on the way and having to call in team mates to replace the fuel pump, the only one spare being a high flow one from a race bike so that was swapped in on the roadside – not too sure if the nitrous was plumbed in at the same time, but after the lengthy journey we suspect the convoy might have wished it was!
Remaining FIM-E Championship rounds
19th-21st August: NitrOlympX, Hockenheim, Germany
8th-11th September: FIA / FIM Finals, Santa Pod Raceway, England