Europe’s highest level drag racing scene reaches it’s season climax at fabled Santa Pod Raceway…..

The extremely long hot and dry British summer turned suddenly to autumn as the 2018 European FIA and FIM Drag Racing Series melded for the European Finals at England’s Santa Pod Raceway.

During the event (Sep. 6-9th) racers and the multitude of internationals fans had to contend with rain showers, a strong, cool wind and an unprecedented amount of oil clean-ups and rescues as several racers ran off the end of the track.

But in the end Europe’s 2018 season Champions were crowned with many winning their accolades and taking the event win to boost their weekend. Several had the wins sewn-up entering the event; others had to go rounds to achieve the result. Rain and oil down delays meant that Friday through Sunday ended up being very long days running late into the evening in none too favourable conditions but it all concluded successfully in front of a vast fan attendance.

FIA Top Fuel — After enduring a disastrous 2017 season, Finland’s Anita Mäkelä cured the problems and led the point chase entering this event and just had to qualify to gain the FIA Top Fuel Championship. She performed almost in a league of her own all weekend; a 3.8706/297 was number one qualifier and a new European ET record. Mäkelä made her way through the field with a bye followed by a 3.899/305 as Denmark’s Stig Neergaard fireballed and lost. It would be an all female final as Jndia Erbacher continued her foray into the ultimate class coming from a lowly 9.129/89 seventh qualifier to see off your own part retiring father Urs in round one then winning round two over Finland’s Antti Horto, both slowing with problems.

Finland’s Anita Mäkelä was impressive while prevailing in Top Fuel at the season-ending European Finals.

The final pitted Finland versus Switzerland, Anita Mäkelä in the Auto Haapanen/Levin Iglut machine and Jndia Erbacher in the Monster Energy/Midland Oil car. A better light coupled with a 3.967/276 clinched the deal for Mäkelä as Erbacher shook and clicked off to an 8.987/71.

FIA Top Methanol — That now mixed field of Dragsters and Funny Cars and was led by third in the points; Belgium’s Sandro Bellio in the Danny Cars backed Monte Carlo on a 5.452/264. The FIA Top Methanol Championship was decided in round one as Germany’s brothers Timo and Dennis Habermann squared up, it was younger sibling Dennis that wrapped up the honours; a 5.307/266 beat the 5.445/265 from the Mitsuboshi Blower Belt sponsored dragsters, Dennis then went on to take the event win to ice his cake, a 5.345/266 beat the slower leave, 5.429/262 of A-Fuel driver Jonny Lagg from Sweden.

Germany’s Dennis Habermann continued his domination of the European Top Methanol racing scene.

FIA Pro Mod – Europe’s very dynamic Pro Mod scene did have a couple of withdrawals as sadly numbers two and five in the points, Micke Gullqvist and David Vegter could not repair their cars to enter the race.

Sweden’s Pro Mod and Pro Stock driver Jimmy Ålund brought along the point leading ’51 Chevy Business Coupe to gain second in qualifying after Sweden’s Roger Johansson in his nitrous Mustang notched up a phenomenal 5.794 at 245mph. It was however, Jimmy Ålund that took the FIA Pro Modified Championship as Gullqvist’s no show gave no competition. Ålund went on to take the event win as well, dismissing the likes of Brits Wayne Nicholson, Kev Slyfield and a red lighting Andy Robinson in the semi. Meeting Ålund would be fellow Swede Jan Ericsson in his ’68 Camaro who saw off Switzerland’s Marcus Hilt, Holland’s Michel Tooren the a semi final bout against Mats Eriksson.

Driving his super cool ’51 Chevy – Sweden’s Jimmy Ålund prevailed to win both the event and season championship in FIA Pro Mod.

The sixteen car elimination came down to a run-off between two Swede’s, new champion, Jimmy Ålund and Jan Ericsson, a pretty even leave saw Ålund pull ahead to record the event win with a 5.873/241 to the losing 6.050/239.

FIA Pro Stock — That four-car field led by point leader; Sweden’s Bengt Ljungdahl in his VP Racing Fuels backed Camaro on a 6.608/206. Ljungdahl went on to add the event win to his now FIA Pro Stock Championship after qualifying had finished. Once again Ljungdahl made the final seeing off Robin Norén in round one to meet fellow Swede Michael Malmgren in the final who had earlier dispatched second in the points, Stefan Ernryd. It was Camaro versus Pontiac in the final with the Camaro of Bengt Ljungdahl recording a 6.662/202 against the losing troubled 18.959/41 from Malmgren.

Bengt Ljungdahl’s Camaro (from Sweden) won in Pro Stock.

Funny Car — Suffered multiple problems with oil-downs and breakages but England’s Kevin Kent shone through taking the overall win with a night-time 7.975/103 after earlier recording a good 4.399/278 when Norway’s now retiring Birgitte Bremnes no-showed.

England’s Kevin Kent made a series or runs in his nitro-burning Ford Mustang.

FIM Top Fuel Bike — Was led in points and qualifying by Greek rider, Filippos Papafilippou with a 5.814/240 but he came off the Gulf Oil 1585cc Puma at the top end suffering bruises and could not repair the bike but did take the FIM Top Fuel Bike Championship.

It was England’s Steve Woollatt that made the final after taking out Holland’s Rene van den Berg in round one with a 6.269/217 then a 6.400/185 ran past Dale Leeks try of 7.078/183. The final was a solo for Woollatt as fellow Brit Stuart Crane did not show, luckily as Woollatt’s machine went up in smoke but taking the event win with a lowly 15.050/48.

Despite coming off his bike (!) Greece’s Filippos Papafilippou clinched the 2018 FIM Top Fuel Bike title.

England’s Steve Woollatt prevailed for the FIM Top Fuel Bike event title at Santa Pod

FIM Super Twin Bike — Denmark’s Marcus Christiansen took the FIM Super Twin Bike Championship and the event win, he also led the qualifying on a 6.595/192. A round one solo got him then up against the mighty Ronny Aasen on the Zodiac blown twin but a 6.615/208 beat the slowed up 7.296/177 giving Christiansen a finals place. Last year’s champion, Holland’s Martijn de Haas made his way past Belgium’s Marc van den Boer in round one, then a 6.984/163 beat England’s Neil Midgley’s slowed up 7.248/134. So, it all came down to a run-off between Denmark and Holland and it was Marcus Christiansen’s 6.984/163 that caught and passed Martijn de Haas’ 6.781/203.

With his win – Denmark’s Marcus Christiansen took the FIM Super Twin Bike Championship title.

FIM Pro Stock Bike – This seven bike eliminator led by England’s Martin Newberry with a 7.148/185 qualifier. It was a bitter end to Alex Hope as his championship attempt was to be foiled in round one when he lost to eventual FIM Pro Stock Bike Champion, France’s Bertrand Maurice in round one. Maurice clinched the championship when he secured the win against fellow Frenchman Charly Abraham who red lit in round two. It was a clash in the final as Bertrand Maurice faced Martin Newberry, despite a better leave by Maurice coupled with a 7.577/169 it was the 7.191/184 from Newberry that scored the event win.

England’s own – Martin Newberry – won in the FIM Pro Stock Bike category.

France’s Bertrand Maurice was the overall season points champion for FIM Pro Stock Motorcycle

FIM Super Street Bike – With 19 entries, this bike field was led by England’s Garry Bowe on a resurgent 7.032/205 after an awful 2017, his luck ended after round one. It was fellow Brit and reigning champion Rick Stubbins that once again secured the FIM Super Street Bike Championship after reaching the semis and going out with problems to England’s Steve Venables. Venables went on to reach the finals to meet Denmark’s Mogens Lund and what a race, wheels up from Venables and a 7.059/200 was beaten by Lund’s 6.991/206 to take the event win.

Denmark’s Mogens Lund won in the very competiive Super Street Bike eliminator.

FIM Junior Drag Bike – winner Liam Holgate beat Meggie Talbot.
Comp Eliminator – winner Robin Orthodoxou beat Robin Sattler.
Super Comp – winner Leah Kellett beat Collin Morrice.
Super Gas winner Collin Morrice beat Brian Pateman.
Super Street winner Dave Cherrett beat Leigh Morris.
Super Pro ET winner Brad Jackson beat Mark Bailey.
Pro ET winner Lee Huxley beat Harrison Brown.
Street Eliminator winner Andy Bond beat Joe Stevens.
Junior Dragster winner Caitlin Wilson beat Daniel Weir.

Post and all photos by Roger Gorringe