Rain KO’s FIA European Round #1
Unfortunately, Mother nature did not take kindly to the highly anticipated opening round for the European FIA & FIM series held at Santa Pod Raceway, England…
If it rains the British always get the blame – we have lived with that image for years but could offer no excuse only apologies as the long, warm, dry spring suddenly came to an abrupt end a day or so before the FIA European Drag Racing Championship and FIM European Drag Bike Championship started.
There was just time for three qualifiers in the Pro classes whilst not a wheel turned in anger on eliminations day. Sportsman classes also were left without finalising eliminations.
Qualifying did include some mishaps. Swedish Pro Mod driver Mats Eriksson was unlucky on a first qualifier when after a long wheelie the car ended up hitting both walls ending up a wreck; Eriksson was unhurt and hoped to rebuild the machine ready for the next round in Finland in July. Another mishap occurred in the pits when Britain’s only Top Fuel driver, Chris Andrews fell and dislocated his shoulder; the Lucas Oil team managed to fly in Finn, Jari Halinen who was taking a year off to substitute but after a fair try failed to make the field.
Traction was so good on the asphalt surface when it was dry it caught several racers off guard and produced some big wheel stands. Thomas Nataas the defending FIA Top Fuel Champion netted the top qualifier with the only three second pass of the shortened event, a 3.910 at 309.23mph led the nine car field. Nataas from Norway wheeled the Denmark based Andersen Racing fueller ahead of the likes of Finland’s Anita Mäkelä who managed a 4.01/293 for second spot and Denmark’s Stig Neergaard in third with a 4.078/291.
Timo Habermann the German and his younger brother Dennis came back into a resurgent Top Methanol Dragster class after over a year off and what a return the pair made. An out of the trailer 5.242/269 from Timo beat Dennis’ 5.314/266 to the finish line; the pair were well over a tenth ahead of the pack in qualifying, what a shame there were no eliminations to see how well they may have continued.
Johan Lindberg from Sweden is the lone brother competing in Europe as his sibling, Jonnie races periodically on the NHRA circuit. A highly refurbished Chevy Monte Carlo Top Methanol Funny Car whisked Johan to a 5.725/247 top qualifier, again, over a tenth in front of the other four teams to show the way in the first round of the season.
Jimmy Ålund the Swede, and defending Pro Stock Champion freshly returned from standing in for Greg Anderson in the NHRA Pro Stock wars and proudly still basking in the glory of his win at the 4 Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C. qualified his Camaro on top with a 6.535/210 to show he intends to maintain and benefit from his US experience.
Marc Meihuizen from the Netherlands took his MPM Oil backed Firebird to lead the way in Pro Mod, a fine 5.981/241. Only two five second passes were in the fifteen car field with Sweden’s 2013 Champion, Micke Gullqvist taking his Camaro to a 5.990/240 qualifier for number two spot.
Gordon Smith led the qualifying in the opening round of the non-FIA European Funny Car Series with a 4.796/211 staying ahead of the all British at present class.
Post and Photos by Roger Gorringe. www.nitroexposure.co.uk (Copyright: May 2014)