FIA "The Main Event" 2005 Report
Friday 27th - Monday 30th May
FIA European Drag Racing Championships Inc UEM Drag Bikes
Santa Pod Raceway played host to the first round of the FIA drag racing championships, in a weekend of high drama and stunning performances.
The weather defied reports, and remained dry for virtually the whole four days, allowing the full program of European and national drag racing to take place.
Changeable temperatures and wind conditions made car and bike set-up all important, and perhaps was responsible for a few surprising upsets among the favourites.
Huge competitor entries for all classes meant that qualifying was a frantic affair, despite having three days to get things right, and no-one wanted to be heading home on the trailer before eliminations had even started. Every round of European drag racing at Santa Pod also seems to bring new European records, and sure enough, three drivers left the event having set breathtaking records. Dave Wilson set a new Top Methanol Dragster ET (elapsed time) record at 4.522 seconds. Patrick Wikstrom set new ET and TS (terminal speed) records in Pro Modified, at 6.255 seconds @ 227.17 mph, and Urs Erbacher set a new TS record in Top Methanol Funny Car at 252.37 mph.
European Racing Round-Up
FIA Top Fuel Dragster drew in a record ten machines with contenders from Sweden, Norway, Holland, England and a Brit from Canada. It was Lex Joon from Holland in his ex David Baca car that shone throughout eliminations after surviving an almost blowover wheelie during qualifying that bent just a couple of A arms, it was thought that the strong headwind that helped lift the car gradually cushioned his return to earth. A first round 4.96/289 left a broken Jöran Persåker on the startline then a 4.93/288 beat the shake and tyre smoke from Swede Tommy Möller. Englishman Jon Webster was also having a good weekend getting by a breaking '04 Champ Andy Carter with a 5.07/259 whilst in round two a 5.08/264 took out number one qualifier Norway's Thomas Nataas. The final was a disappointment for Webster as he lost drive and saw a flaming Lex Joon drive all the way from half track in a fireball to take the win with a 5.41/219.
FIA Top Methanol Dragster had a healthy entry that wound up with two Brits and old adversaries in the final. Dave Wilson had a bye run to the semis then faced German Peter Schöfer, a off form 5.93/220 from Schöfer was heavily defeated by the record setting 5.455/249 from Wilson. Rob Turner meanwhile was overcoming threats from class rookie German Timo Habermann a cool 5.54/252 was all that was needed as habermann slowed after losing the blower belt to a 10.74/68 then an easy bye into the final where Rob Turner's 5.60/249 was no match for current Champion Dave Wilson who recorded a 5.422 as a new European record to win the title.
In the FIA Top Methanol Funny Car ranks Swiss man Urs Erbacher the reigning Champion laid down the law and took the event win with a 5.72/252.37 Euro speed record as Denmark's Dan Larsen charged behind with a close 5.78/244 lose. Erbacher had earlier dealt out the likes of motor expiring German Jürgen Nagel then, a lucky break as Sweden's Niclas Andersson was shut off with a leak on the startline allowing an easy solo to the final. Larsen however had to fight tooth and nail for his place with a 5.90/229 win on the 5.94/239 from Jörgen Johnsson then onto a 5.85/235 drubbing of Sweden's Leif Andréassons' 6.04/234 to get him to the final.
FIA Pro Stock saw all the heavy hitters fall by the wayside leaving Denmark's Jackie Hansen to take the trophy with his Chevy Cavalier, a 7.05/195 beat last years Champion Jimmy Ålund's 7.07/195. In round one Hansen took out the two times Champion Michael Malmgren with a 7.09/194 win to the 7.12/196 that failed to catch up. A red light shone in the next round as Ulf Jonsson fouled away his chances giving Hansen a 7.10/195 win to enter the final. Ålund had a better run through to meet Hansen a 7.21/192 holeshot beat the 7.32/188 from Finland's Richard Sundblom then an easy bye run of 7.23/198 put the Champ into the final.
The ever increasing popularity of the fabulous Pro Modified class attracted a huge entry that was eventually won by Roger Johansson in his nitrous Mustang beating record setting Patrik Wikström's blown Camaro 6.59/208 to a below par 7.93/135.
UEM Super Twin Top Fuel Bike win went to Norway's Svein Olav Rolfstad with a 6.92/202 as German rider Joachim Riemer broke on the launch. Rolfstad saved the best till last as his way to the final never produced another six, a 7.69/189 won over a breaking Czech Republic rider Tomas Sulek then a 7.05/199 beat fellow Norwegian Hans Olav Olstad's 7.35/196. Opponent, Riemer managed to beat current Champ, the mighty Ton Pels on a holeshot 7.31/168 that beat the 'Godfather's' 7.32/178 then a 7.43/157 managed to stay ahead of Norway's Hans Christian Nilsen's 7.96/157 to enter the final.
The UEM Top Fuel Bike category was an all British affair with Ian King running consistent numbers all weekend, a fine 6.38/206 beat off the 6.59/212 charge from Steve Woollatt. Earlier defeats of Shaun Branch, 6.33/205 to 7.62/139, then a 6.39/200 smashed Neil Midgley's 6.82/193 hopes. Woollatt meanwhile dispatched Dave Holland with a 6.61/212 to the 7.25/165 in round one then a 6.59/211 saw off the 7.72/162 from fellow Brit Gary Jones to get Woollatt into the auspicious final.
The UEM Pro Stock Bike event win went to Martin Bishop in another all British contest, a 7.67/168 beat Richard Gipp's 7.82/169. Bishop had got his finals place with a trouncing of fellow countryman Chris Hope in a 7.59/171 to a 7.91/160 in the initial round then a lucky solo as multi champion roger Pettersson broke leaving the way clear for Bishop's 7.67/172 to the final. Gipp's pathway saw the eradication of Martin Newbury in round one, 7.70/171 to the 8.77/158 and a 7.66/170 win over Ray Debben's 7.91/164 put Gipp against Bishop for the money run.
Pro Racing Round-Up by Roger Gorringe ©2005.
Super Pro ET: Steve Johnson (7.30) firstname.lastname@example.org def Vince Gibbs (8.84) email@example.com
Pro ET: Lee Huxley (10.50) firstname.lastname@example.org def Chris Isaacs (9.63) email@example.com
Sportsman ET: Rick Denny (13.09) firstname.lastname@example.org def Jon Turner (12.50) email@example.com
Super Comp: Brian Pateman firstname.lastname@example.org def Malcolm Francis email@example.com
Super Gas: Frank Mason firstname.lastname@example.org def Tony Morris email@example.com
Super Street: John Grant firstname.lastname@example.org def Paul Spiers email@example.com REDLIGHT
9.50 Bike: Steve Knapp firstname.lastname@example.org def Paul Hambidge email@example.com REDLIGHT
Junior Dragster: Peter Walters (8.75) firstname.lastname@example.org def Daniel Giles (14.52) email@example.com
Off Track Round-Up
The racing hardly needed it, but there was loads of additional entertainment laid on both on and off track to keep the action coming thick and fast on all four days.
In the air, Denny Dobson provided his famous stunt display, the Royal Navy parachute display team dropped in on Sunday, helicopter rides provided an Ariel view of the packed Santa Pod site, and to top things on during the finals on Monday, a beautiful Lancaster bomber and Spitfire escort made a barnstorming low-level flypast right up the length of the track. a truly memorable sight that almost brought a lump to the throat of those who witnessed it.
On track, Ronnie & Gary Picardo debuted the new wheelie truck and also showed off the famous Stingray. In addition, Sune Andersson was out popping enormous wheelies on the equally enormous Triumph Rocket III.
Off track, Ragmop provided live country and western music and classic hits on a mobile stage, and there was a huge range of activities for kids, from ceramics painting to bouncy castles and mini-quads.
The FIA championships now move on to Finland, and are back at Santa Pod in September.
For a full race report visit Eurodragster.
For More Main Event photos check out the daily galleries.
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