FIM-E Main Event Preview
Words and photos Ivan Sansom & Rose Hughes
(unless otherwise stated)
This weekend sees many of Europe’s finest two-wheeled contestants descend on the new all concrete quarter mile at Santa Pod Raceway for the traditional season opener, the FIM-E Main Event.
FIM-E Top Fuel Bike
FIM-E Top Fuel Bike has ten entries and although there are only three fully-fledged nitro burners, five of the remaining seven funny bikes have the requisite six-second ticket to ensure a full eight bike eliminations ladder on race day.
Reigning champion Rikard Gustafsson and the RG Engineering team are looking forward to building on last year’s success both in Europe and the US: “Nothing is changed on the bike just checked everything. The plan is to run FIM Championship and some EDRS events and Mosten. The plan is also a visit to the US in November. We will continue our program and try to stay consistent and run quicker.”
After a fiery end to last season, 2017 series runner-up Stuart Crane’s pro mod bike has been through major surgery, after being stripped back to the bare chassis to totally rebuild the bike after the fire and engine blow up. “We then fitted the newly freshed spare motor as we haven’t tested it so want to start the season with it, we have also had new bodywork made with moves the tank forward 3 inches. Also a new nose cone which should help more with the aerodynamics as it passes the air past my hands and allows me to get further towards my chin being on the tank. The bike has also had more lightening work carried out to lose some weight and also has clear rocker cover fitted so we’re testing that too as it is new. The clear rocker cover allows us to keep an eye on the valve train between rounds. Many thanks to all my sponsors MPM Oils UK and Warpspeed Racing. Our intention at Warpspeed is to campaign a full European tour with all 3 bikes this year”
Crane’s Warpspeed Racing team mate Dale Leeks has been getting in some unusual practice for the 2018 tour “I’ve been away jumping off mountains in Italy! Basically the bike has been stripped completely and the engine overhauled and rebuilt. With new intervals Warpspeed Racing have installed a new Grothus front end supplied by the Drag Store Athens and, like Stuart, I’ll be running new front bodywork with all electronics up front. After Stuart’s fire last year it seemed a good idea to move the electronics. I will be loading the bike up and hopefully laying down some nice clean 6 second passes to start off where we left it. And thanks as always to the continued support from MPM Oils and Warpspeed Racing. Without these it would not be possible!”
The Storm compound turbo of Barry Eastman and Mick Hand, with Lorcan Parnell in the hot seat: “has undergone a complete rebuild over the winter following our PB 6.74 @ 210.9 mph at the Straightliners event in October. A new, billet, cylinder block has been made and the cylinder head converted from “power rings” to a more conventional copper gasket. The team is now supported by the University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD) Motorsports Engineering Dept. in a project aimed at improving dragbike aerodynamics. CFD analysis of 3D scans is underway and as an interim measure the existing seat unit has been extended by some 16 inches. The bike has been repainted in a new colour scheme. Overall gearing has been reduced by 7% reducing top speed at 11,000rpm from a rather optimistic 250mph to 233mph, with the intent of improving short times. Larger diameter clutch plates are on order from Bob Malloy. Our thanks go to turbo sponsors Owen Developments for their continued support.”
Throw in Fil Papafilippou in his first competitive outing on the ex-King Racing fuel bike, veteran Steve Woollatt on a tweaked Dealer nitro burner, together with the six second funnies of Glenn Borg and Thomas Pettersson and Phil Crossley and Eric Richard, who will both be striving for a so far elusive six second clocking, it should be a barnstormer of a race.
FIM-E Super Twin
Nine entries for FIM-E Super Twin also promises some spectacular action with a mix of returning veterans of various hues, together with some first footers at Santa Pod and the usual diverse mix of V-Twins, parallel twins, blown or injected that illustrate the engineering marvels that exist within the class.
Reigning champion, and looking for a trio of titles, Martijn de Haas is taking a focussed approach to this season. “We haven’t changed a lot on the bike. However, our main focus is on the clutch for this year. As the competition is steep (9 entries for the Main Event) we realize this year we have to improve our 60ft times. At the top end, our bike is strong so we mainly are focusing on the start. We are very happy to welcome new riders and racing [the returning] Hans Olav Olstad this year.”
Martijn de HaasFellow Dutch-based team of Ton and Vincent Pels have had a lot more on their plate over the winter: “We’ve obviously have been looking at the valve train issues we had with the Zodiac sponsored Supercharged Top Fuel Harley-Davidson. At this moment we are finalizing the last parts of the valve train components. New cams from S&S Cycle with a re-designed profile. New lifters (a.k.a. cam followers or tappets) from Jesel, which we modify to make them adjustable. New valve springs from Kibblewhite Precision Machining with a higher seat and peak pressure to keep it the valvetrain under control better. New double ceramic crank bearing set-up on both the output shaft and the pinion shaft which should give more strength and enable us to run the super slick SAE 70 Spectro Oil. More spares so we can build two complete engines and have spare parts ready in the trailer.
Last year was one of our most disappointing race seasons ever and obviously, we want to come back stronger. The new cam galley which we developed in 2017 should have been the cure for a lot of issues we had with our 1000+ HP V-Twin engine, but it gave us some hick-ups that ended up in a very dramatic (and expensive) engine failure at the Main Event and again issues that stopped us from continuing the race season last August at the NitrOlympx in Hockenheim Germany.
Looking at all the damage we could only trace it back to lifter failure, but on a nitromethane engine, the damage is often catastrophic when something in the valve train lets go. The amount of fuel going into the engine needs to be able to get out, or a “fuel lock” is inevitable. Hopefully, this season will be better, both for Ronny’s and for our own sake.
We are not planning to run records at the moment, but want to have a quick and reliable bike to win races and ultimately championships. Last time we held the big FIM-Europe cup in our hands was 2013 and that feels like too long ago!
This year we will have a new crew member on the team. Thomas, a friend, and colleague of Ronny, will help us out to speed up the in-between round maintenance so we have some more time analyzing the data and setting up the bike.
Zodiac Racing is proudly sponsored by Zodiac International B.V., Spectro Oils of America, Kibblewhite Precision Machining, Inc., and S&S Cycle, Inc.
Ronny Aasen added “Just want to say that the Journey so far with team Zodiac has been both fun and exciting. The team I am a part of is always trying to look a step forward! Exciting stuff going on this year!! There have been a few ups and downs the last 2 years, but that’s racing!! Hopefully, this season will give us some more track time, and data to make the bike fast and reliable. As always I look very much forward to get in the saddle again, in one of the coolest places for drag racing in Europe!”
Neil Midgley will again be steering another of the well-known blower entries on the European scene, with Chris ‘Cannon’ Hannan giving us the low down ahead of the 2018 season: “basically we have a number of upgrades for this year, we have a new blower drive system to eliminate the slip on the run to stop the bike dropping cylinders just past 1/8 mile. We also plan to run the new Cannon Motorsport engine at the test day on Thursday and depending on how that goes may revert to the old engine for the race if required. After the 6.4 last year in which Neil shut off due to the rate of acceleration, he is still on a learning curve but the incremental showed a time in the 6.1s had we run through to the finish line, however, we race on tracks not what if so we will start slow again and build slowly. The bike is ready and we can’t wait to get to the track! We have again got the backing of Lucas Oils for the 7th year along with Power Race Graphics and Cannon Engineering.”
Switching from nitrous pro mod, Allan Davies will make his first appearance in Super Twin with the Surprise Attack V-Twin blown entry. “The bike was built between 1995 & 1997 by Dad [Pete – the originator of Puma] and Frank Brachtvogel for Adam Hewitt with Adam only doing a few test passes in 1997 on it. Phil Brachtvogel rode it in 2009 for a few test passes but the bike always suffered from a few problems and has sat in Frank’s garage since. Last year I bought the bike and we went through the whole bike and did a few test sessions with a best of 8.4 but nowhere near any full passes yet. Since we put it together last year it has had modifications to the valve stems, a new blower belt assembly, new exhausts, Racepak fitted, new oil tank, larger drive belt bearings fitted and drive system all upgraded along with lots of other minor mods, also handlebars and pegs moved to suit me (we are still working on that need a few more passes to work it out). We were hoping to run it at Easter but couldn’t due to the weather so the Main Event will be its first race meeting, we will be testing the bike on Thursday. Big thanks to Eurol, Dad, Frank and all the crew.”
The field also includes Hans Olav Olstad, Marcus Christiansen, Christian Jager, Gert Han Laseur and Marc van den Boer all of whom will be looking to avoid not being part of the race day eight bike ladder.
FIM-E Pro Stock
With multi-time FIM-E Pro Stock Bike champion Fredrik Fredlund not contesting the Main Event whilst searching for sponsors, we should have a new title holder by the end of the season. Seven riders are making the call for the season opener and all should make the full series.
Alex Hope has been in the title mix over the past couple of seasons and is in the mood put in a strong challenge again this season with the CBD Asylum back Suzuki. “Dad [Chris] has put a lot of work in over the winter to get Bobby Frasier’s bike up to scratch. He has also worked with them for the first couple of races to get them to the point where she is comfortable on the bike which was achieved in Hungary with consistent 8-second runs. Their team now seem competent so that can now be handed over and I can have my main man back on the program at Hope Racing. Dad is now back with my brother Mark and I full time for the 2018 Pro Stock schedule in FIM-E and Super Street Bike in the EDRS series and has been working on getting the pro stock bike ready for the Main Event.
We checked over the chassis that was new to us last year and believe we have found the cause of the handling issues which forced us to park it and move back to the original bike early in the season. Some repairs to the chassis were made at Warpspeed Racing and we are confident it should now work as we had first hoped. A change of bodywork is also taking place for the start of the season and the bike will be liveried up in the CBD Asylum colors to match the TF Dragster of team-mate Liam Jones. Both V&H 1755 motors are refreshed and ready to go so we’re hoping to be in a position to improve on last year’s runner-up finish. The main thing is we have the main man back in our corner for the rest of the season and we’re coming for that number 1 plate. The bike is literally like brand new and is put together with the perfection I’ve grown to expect from anything Dad puts me on.”
Looking to bounce back after a frustrating (and expensive) season Kenneth Holmberg is viewing the forthcoming year with renewed hope. “The 2017 season was unsuccessful with a number of technical failures and damages. We have updated our 2 engines for this season. Pretty big changes also on the adjustment with other components. We will attend all EM races and probably all EDRS events and may race in Mosten/Danmark. The faithful team is the same with Gabriella “Gabbi” Nikolovska and Kent “Kenta” Carlsson. We will probably have some well-known guest-playing mechanics during some event, with great success in Pro Stock. We’ve also retained all our previous sponsors, especially Swecomposite. We are really looking forward to the first race at Santa Pod with the wonderful atmosphere and the new surface. We have forgotten last season’s disappointment and look forward to this season!”
Sophomore contender Charley Abraham is looking to build on a learning year last season: “During the off racing season, I rebuilt the complete engine, but with no mods or significant updates. As you know, last year, was our first season in FIM ProStock Bike with the Parts Europe Buell. It was a practice year, I learned what I must do and also don’t do! LOL For 2018, the target is simple: continue to learn, be faster and why not get the trophy? We plan to make the full FIM championship this year too. I’ve just finished the bike and we shortly leave for Santa Pod… so no pre-season test yet. We will make some passes during the Pro Peak Test ‘n’ Tune on the Thursday before the Main Event to break in the engine. I want to make a special thank you to the Parts Europe Team, you rock!!! Without you, it wouldn’t be possible. And thank also Silkolene Oil and S&S Cycle for their support. And a big huge to the Star Racing Team which help me more and more. Thank you Jackie and George! I’m proud to be a part of your adventure. So now, let’s race!”
FIM-E Super Street Bike
The no-bar brigade have the jump on the rest of the series as FIM-E Super Street Bike have already managed to get around in at a somewhat incident-packed event at Kunmadaras Drag Arena in Hungary. Now elevated to full championship status, the class has a bumper 24 car entry for the Main Event.
2017 title winner Rick Stubbins has kicked off his title defence in fine fashion: “The season has started off well winning at the first round in Kunmadaras, I have yet to try my new boost controller and hope to have ago with it at the Main Event, also have some new upgrade parts for the engine to try. It’s a big entry, so it will be tough but I will try my best.”
Last year’s runner-up Dane Mogens Lund is certainly racking up the miles at the moment: “We went for the first round of the FIM in Kunmadaras Hungary and what a difference a year make. The Hungarian organizers had worked hard on improving everything. The track looked and was awesome, and with the new toilet and shower facilities, “KNMDR” has made a big step onto becoming part of European drag racing and a track worth visiting. I really hope more classes will join in the future. We haven’t really made any changes to the bike for 2018, apart from building a new engine after the explosion in Valdosta. We managed to qualified 1 with a 7.10 and 326kmh on a very hot track, several others made it into the teens and twenties as well so elimination would be interesting. Many teams had made the trip and a full 16 ladder was a fact. We got to the semis and left good against Rudi Zorzi but at about 80 feet the bike went into the air after a “spin and hook” and I had to get it back down and under control, managed to cross the finish line with a 7.71 enough for 3rd place. It will be interesting to get back to the Pod to try the new surface, the for sure colder weather and see what the 24 entered bikes will bring on the scoreboard.”
Having lost his crown last season Garry Bowe has serious plans to push the envelope further: “Going into 2018 we decided to make more changes to try to stay at the front of the pack as far as ET and mph goes this year especially as there are a few lighter/younger riders coming through!!! We still have the new for the end of last year MoTeC m130 which will be added to for this year the new gats program for the ams2000 which we are testing for NLR with backing from Sebastian Domingo, and we have already run a 7.0 on the 2nd pass so I have no doubt it will be nothing short of excellent! As an extra, we have a nitrous kit for accurate power control which Brad O’Connor from BTC Moto has overseen the design alongside Trevor Langfield from Wizards of NOS. Many thanks to the following companies: Brad @ BTC Moto; Fuchs Silkolene; NLR AMS 2000; Wizards of NOS; Cometic gaskets and Central Scanning.”
Father and daughter duo of Steve & Jemma Venables have been tweaking things over the winter with consistency at the forefront of Steve’s mind. “Jemma’s bike is now on the MoTeC M1 ECU with an integrated boost controller and will be looking for better consistency this year. For me this season, after sacrificing the championship last year to develop the bike we shipped it to the USA to race in November for the Man Cup Finals and ran a best of 6.94, hoping this year for some performance gains and consistency. We are very pleased to announce that we still have the backing and support from DME Racing, Owen Developments, Suzuki GB, Protec fuel systems, Cometic Gaskets and Nimbus Motorsports.”
Class stalwart Thomas Granica returns to the fray after a year out “As we were not able to run the 2017 season because of financial problems we want to thank our new sponsors Strassenreinigung Oberheiden and Turbo Total as without their help we could not run the championship in 2018. We have also big changes on the bike. The Joker has a new clutch, headers and turbo. The goal this year is to run a PB get in the top ten in qualifying and to go as many rounds in eliminations as possible!”
Another long-time SSB competitor Graham Dance has had a few things to deal with prior to the season “After recovering from a shoulder operation to repair a severed tendon it has been a slow start to 2018 with not much changing on the bike, except a new complete front end including a billet wheel from the workshop at Warpspeed Racing who have done a great job. A freshen up of a couple of engines and fine tuning of the clutch especially the 60′ which has suffered the last couple of seasons and we are now confident of improved consistency with help from BTC Moto who will again be troubleshooting any problems that arise.”
At the other end of the experience scale, Erik Jennes is moving up to join the FIM-E class for this season “I am currently converting my Comp Bike to Super Street Bike specs after racing on and off in the Dutch and ACU [domestic British] rounds/championships. It is a lot more work than I could imagine! And for the first time ever, my bike has a professional paintjob. The Main Event will also be my first entry at a FIM-E race!”
New for 2018 is the inclusion of Junior Dragbike as a FIM-E Dragbike Cup series and, like Super Street Bike, they have already an outing in Hungary at the start of the month. 12 year old Meggie Talbot from Shark Attack Drag Racing, headed up by Top Fuel Rider and Step Dad Rene van den Berg, will be competing in the second round of the FIM-E Junior Drag Bike Cup. Mum Kerryanne van den Berg passed on the following “Meggie has just returned from the first ever round of FIM-E in Kunmadaras, Hungary and achieved a PB, no 1 qualifier and won the event. Thanks as always to sponsors Rene van den Berg, EUROL, Tijger Leathers, Bikers World and No Nonsense ICT!”
FIM-E Drag Bike Championship dates:
29th April-1st May Kunmadaras, Hungary (SSB & Jr Drag Bike)
25th-28th May Main Event, Santa Pod Raceway, UK (all classes)
17th-19th August NitrOlympX, Hockenheim, Germany (not Jr Drag Bike)
6th-9th September European Finals, Santa Pod Raceway, UK (all classes)