EuroZone Finale – Santa Pod Event Caps FIA Season
England’s fabled Santa Pod Raceway was filled with ardent race fans from all over Europe as a flag waving capacity crowd cheered on their home country racers during the FIA 2014 season finale…..
The exciting event played out in autumn’s first misty days followed by a warm sunny eliminations day.
FIA Top Fuel qualifying was led by point leader, Norway’s Thomas Nataas in the Danish owned and run fueller, a 3.949 at a new European speed record of 316.40mph with England’s Chris Andrews in hot pursuit on a night-time 3.979/290 qualifier, the only cars in the three’s out of the seven entries. Nataas had a bye in round one and was declared the FIA European Top Fuel Champion, he went on to defeat Sweden’s Micke Kågered in round two, a holeshot, weaving and tyre hazing 4.331/219 beat the 4.301/250. Switzerland’s Urs Erbacher has had a limited season not running at all the events but his luck held here as the number seven qualifier beat a shaking Chris Andrews in one then a 4.210/281 beat the on fire 5.241/133 from Malta’s Duncan Micallef. A Norway versus Switzerland final loomed with the Andersen Racing/Landmeco Batman car of Thomas Nataas adding the event win to his Championship win with a 4.026/303 as Urs Erbacher in his Midland Oil/Victory Motorcycles car clinched the runner up event win with a 4.285/285.
FIA Top Methanol Dragster had Germany’s Timo Habermann lead the qualifying on a 5.256/269 from his blown machine closely followed by point leader, Malta’s Chris Polidano on a 5.286/264 from his nitro burner. A one point Polidano notched up a European record only to have it wrenched from his grasp three minutes later as Timo Habermann ran the new number. Round one had the elder Habermann record a new European ET record of 5.221 with a 271 speed to see of English former champion, Dave Wilson, then a bye to the final. The FIA Top Methanol Dragster Championship went to Chris Polidano in round one despite losing to outgoing champ Sweden’s Jonny Lagg. It would be an all German family battle in the final as younger Dennis Habermann dispatched Malta’s Manty Bugeja in round one on a holeshot then defeated Lagg in round two, 5.496/256 to a losing 5.598/252. The final came down to a bye for Timo Habermann in the Hofler Fenster/Autokrandienst Habermann sponsored machine as brother, Dennis did not contest the race, an easy 6.117/162 got the trophy.
FIA Top Methanol Funny Car was a foregone conclusion as Sweden’s Johan Lindberg had wrapped up the FIA Top Methanol Funny Car Championship on entering the race on a last minute show. The race was on as to who got second place. Lindberg showed the way as per usual with a 5.516/256 top qualifier, then took out Germany’s Jürgen Nagel in round one and onto a bye in round two. An expensive start to round one was made by England’s Gareth Ellis who left a trail of clutch sparks all up track wrecking all the drive train and motor but taking the win 6.670/170 win as Belgium’s Danny Bellio came second on a below par 7.079/227. Round two saw a repaired Ellis put down a 5.752/249 as Sweden’s Leif Andréasson hit tyre smoke off the line. An England against Sweden battle for the final was decided when the Champ shook and got loose as Gareth Ellis powered on to take the popular home event win with a 5.774/249.
FIA Pro Stock had a small but slick field of five cars led by defending champion, Sweden’s Jimmy Ålund on a 6.551/213. There was a neat bit of driving from Sweden’s Thomas Lindström in round one as he got crossed up from sixty feet and performed a multi-sideways slalom all up track disqualifying himself by ending up in the other lane and taking a bow to the crowd, fellow countryman Michael Malmgren took the win. Ålund took a bye to round two then took out championship contender Malmgren in round two, 6.562/211 to a losing 6.706/205. Magnus Petersson was another contender for the championship and he saw off Simon Gustafsson in one then a bye to the final. Jimmy Ålund in his KWParts.com Camaro got the much better light and went on to take not only the event win but the FIA Pro Stock Championship as well with a 6.571/211 as Magnus Petersson chased hard to become runner up with a 6.632/208.
FIA Pro Modified provided a stella field of cars and big names led by defending champ, Sweden’s Micke Gullqvist on a 5.893/242, one of four out of nineteen cars in the fives. Gullqvist however, was put out of the championship race in round two by Dutch racer David Vegter, both getting crossed up en route. It was down to point leader, Sweden’s Mattias Wulcan to clear a way through the ranks and do it, he did with wins over England’s Roger Moore in one, Swiss stalwart Bruno Bader who ran his first five in qualifying, a 5.987/230 in two and a 5.981 saw off Vegter’s crossed up 7.667/148 in the semi. Netherland’s racer Marc Meihuizen was doing well on his side of the ladder with defeats over England’s Wayne Nicholson, Sweden’s Roger Johansson and England’s Andy Robinson in the semis, Robinson had also notched up his first five during qualifying a 5.968/239 for second qualifier. It was a pernicious race for the final, as Mattias Wulcan managed to secure the FIA Pro Modified Championship as well as the event win with a wary 10.364/84 as opponent Marc Meihuizen shook and got sideways tagging the wall hard and slowing for runner up with a 12.936/47.
Nitro Funny Car had three entries all from England with Gordon Smith in the point lead in the European Funny Car Series. Kevin Kent though, led qualifying with a 4.429/280 benefitting from tuning advice from US tuner and racer John Smith. Smith in the Shockwave III Dodge Stratus beat Jason Phelps in round one with a 4.445/273 but could not make the final due to breakage. It was left to Kevin Kent in the DVC Engineering Plant Hire West Ten Motorsport Mustang to take the honour for the event win taken with a 4.553/241 ticket. Gordon Smith was declared the European Funny Car Series Champion.
Overall the FIA European Finals was a safe well run event with the only extraordinary occurrence happening in Top Fuel Bike FIM portion of the event when Greek rider Filippos Papafilippou came off his errant machine and landed in the wheelie bars of opponent, Steve Woollatt for a passenger ride of a lifetime, he suffered a small ankle injury. (You can check out the YouTube video of that unreal incident : HERE )
Photos and Posting by: Roger Gorringe. www.nitroexposure.co.uk
Copyright: September 2014.