UEM Drag Bike Championship Preview

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UEM Drag Bike Championship Preview

A new race season is always a new chapter and so also this time. If Drag Racing was easy predictible we could assume already now who the new champions in Top Fuel Bike, Super Twin Bike and Pro Stock Bike will be. But Drag Racing is not easy and this year the UEM Championship has two extra twists to it..

.. As travel costs are high and teams are struggling to raise budgets (and time) to manage to attend all rounds, it was decided for 2012 to allow teams to drop one round of their choice without penalty, meaning in other words that max 5 out of the 6 championship events will count for each participant (the five best pointswise). That gives the UEM Drag Bike Championship one twist to start with and opens possibilities for top ranking positions for teams that can´t go to all rounds. That twist also include the fact teams who at the later part of the season find themselves among the top ranking ones (or just outside), may have a chance to improve their points and rankings by attending all remaining rounds (if they had not planned it already). For anyone interested to read about the regulations, please go to Speedgroups website at www.speedgroup.eu and click the page Practical Information 2012 – UEM, where you will find a link to the regulations and other useful information connected to the 2012 UEM Drag Bike Championship.

Back to twist number two, which is connected to the Top Fuel Bike category. A change in regulations allow the quickest funny bikes to enter the Top Fuel Bike class. The performance level to be eligible is 6.99 sec or quicker based on 2011 years results. With the addition of a few funny bikes already from the start of the season, the Top Fuel Bike category will have more competitors than we have seen before and although performance normally differ between a funny bike and a top fuel bike, there are at least one funny bike rider who will be at a level to compete for event wins and be a serious top ranking contender in the championship alongside Ian King, Peter Svensson, Sverre Dahl and a few other established Top Fuel Bike riders. His name is Rikard Gustafsson and you can read about his recent achievement in a separate article in this edition! Rikard and Nils Lagerlöf (also Sweden), funny bike riders at the entry list for Main Event.

Ian King Top Fuel Racing
Ian King, UK – Top Fuel Bike

In the Super Twin Bike Class, which is the biggest class in the UEM Championship we can foresee a positive trend as most bikes are in operation and a good number of riders are expected to fill their championship event quote. As a majority of teams in the class has base in the Nordic region, the class association, Speedgroup and the UEM promoter saw a need for a “stepin” Series to the championship.

With the aim to provide mainly new and “non top ranked” teams chance to get track time and improve performance in their own pace, Speedgroup together with the Super Twin Drag Bike Association and the organizers Tierp Arena, FHRA and Gardermoen agreed on a three event EDRS Super Twin Bike Nordic Challenge Series, operated at non-championship events. The first event is soon upcoming at Tierp Arena May 25-26th (followed by Alastaro Finland June 29-July1st and Gardermoen Norway August 6-8th).

Christian Jäger, Germany- Super Twin Bike
Christian Jäger, Germany- Super Twin Bike

We will see new teams enter the Super Twin Bike class 2012 and we will see “old timers” with new equipment (see the Engineering Excellence article about Hans Olav Olstad for instance). The Super Twin Bike class has during the two years I have been monitoring it been the most difficult to foresee event and championship winners in, it is just SO competitive and with the ladder size in the championship limited to 8 bikes, there are always so many good riders left out already before the eliminations!

2011 years champion Per Bengtsson has a split focus this year, and will not be running the full championship (we will have reason to come back to that in a separate article), while other riders like Svein Olav Rolfstad , Jan Sturla Hegré, Hans Olav Olstad and Trond Jostein Höiberget from Norway and Samu Kemppainen (Finland) are starting the season by attending both the Nordic Challenge at Tierp May 25-26th and then go directly to Santa Pod for the Championship event.

Nate Gagnon from Canada will return to Europe for part of the Championship and is also on the entry list for Main Event, which is exciting news.

In Pro Stock Bike the major news since last year is the 2011 champion Jesper Thiel will not be competing to defend the title by the look of it, while 2010 champion Ulf Ögge, who had a disastrous season 2011, is back in the championship with a combination that has been tested in the US over the winter. Team Ögge just go the bike back to Sweden a week ago, did some testing at Tierp and and Ulf is on the entry list at Main Event.

Martin Bishop, UK - Pro Stock Bike
Martin Bishop, UK – Pro Stock Bike

Looking back to Main Event 2011 the eliminations rained off. The low qualifiers that time was Steve Woollatt in Top Fuel Bike 6.41 sec, in Super Twin Bike Christian Jäger (who was rookie in the class then) quickest with 6.64 sec and in Pro Stock Bike Jesper Thiel ran 7.25 during qualifications, wich was quickest then , but far from quickest run performed at the Santa Pod track by a Pro Stoc Bike (Dave Beck set the current European record of 7.078 sec there in 2009). Our qualified guess is that Beck´s ET record will be replaced in 2012. The questions is by whom – Fredrik Fredlund came close 2011 and Ulf Ögge has performed quicker with his bike in the US just months ago. To wrap up the speculations about the Pro Stock Bike Championship, worth mentioning is that the two youngsters in the class Kalle Lyrén and Elvira Karlsson have been on training camp in the US over the winter and both have been on track warming up at Tierp. Fredlund had it going big time 2011and my guess is he will be a top contender for a championship title 2012. We will have reason to feature some of these teams more closely in the forthcoming editions.

To end this UEM championship preview I wish to say we must not forget the teams that are not the usually fastest but among the most consistent and reliable riders. I am for instance thinking of Steve Woollatt Top Fuel Bike (ah well he did win the Main Event 2010) , Martin Bishop in Pro Stock Bike.. and In Super Twin there are many.. but Hans Olav Olstad, Jan Sturla Hegré, Samu Kemppainen and Job Heezen to mention a few.. I would not be surprised if we see some of these riders in the winner´s circle at Santa Pod on June 5th after the finals have been run. I will just have to wait and see and give you my comments in the next edition published the week after the event.

We are in for an exciting UEM Drag Bike Championship 2012 no doubt about that.. and the countdown (for me at least) has started..

For more information visit: www.speedgroup.eu

Text: Åsa Kinnemar
Photos by Ivan Sansom
This article is part of the Speedgroup Club Europe Newsletter #4/2012

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