FIA/UEM European Finals 2008
Thursday 4th to Sunday 7th September
Rain Off Announcement: Despite the best efforts of track crew, racing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday was also called off due to rain. Please therefore keep hold of your tickets as a credit value has been attributed to them.
Thursday ticket: £12
Friday ticket: £32
Saturday ticket: £32
Saturday & Sunday ticket: £25
All 4 Days ticket: £35
Grandstand Seats: Full face value for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
In the event of racing at an event being severely affected by adverse weather please keep hold of your tickets as credit values are awarded on a pro-rata basis against the amount of racing that has been omitted caused by adverse weather, values are at the discretion of the Event Director. Where a credit value has been given, the relevant admission/grandstand ticket may then be redeemed at a future event for this amount or if the ticket is sent to the ticket office, the value can be redeemed against the cost of an advance ticket. The credit value/ticket will be valid for 12 months against future Santa Pod organised events, up to and including the relevant event affected. No monetary refund. No disputes will be entered into. Tickets redeemed on a 1 for 1 basis only. Can not be used in conjunction with any promotional offer. If the new event is of a lesser value then the rain off value, then any unused rain off amount will be lost. Credit values do apply to tickets purchased using Tesco Points, Caravan Club and other 20% promotions.
2008 Photo Gallery: View what happend at the European Finals in the Daily Galleries.
FIA/UEM European Finals 2008 Race Report
It is almost unbelievable that so much rain can fall and consequently ruin what would have been the year highlight in drag racing – the culmination of almost a full year of great point chasing by every team in all the classes. When it rains everyone is affected, from the promoter to race teams and spectators, all of whom witnessed the gallant efforts on Sunday to get the professional classes finalised. It almost worked, the track crew's many hours paid off drying the track and the one shot qualifier was successfully completed and it lasted till mid evening with just some quarters, semis and a final left undecided as the weather delivered another soaking.
Sportsman racers took it on the chin when it was announced they would not be running, allowing the pro classes a chance to complete. After the brand new Medical Centre burnt down on Sunday morning Race Director Darren Prentice quipped “the plague of locusts arrives at eleven o’clock and by two the Russians will have invaded”. European Championship Point totals were calculated on the racing that had occurred and the new Champions were later crowned at the evening Award Banquet.
It was a tight battle coming into the last race of the year as Holland’s Lex Joon in the MPM Oil car lead by a small margin of just five points over England’s Andy Carter in the Lucas Oil machine who in turn held a five point advantage over Sweden’s Micke Kågered. Last years FIA Top Fuel Champion Switzerland’s Urs Erbacher sat in fourth place thirty-six points behind Kågered and making up the top five was Finland’s Jari Halinen forty-eight points behind Erbacher, just in with a mathematical chance.
Carter’s history this year started with the rained out Main Event in England where he qualified number one with a 4.891/292 before the event was washed out. At Finland’s Nitro Nationals he held the pole with a track record 4.767 then went out to Kågered in the second round with Joon taking the event win. Carter took the number one qualifier again at Sweden’s Veidec Festival in July running over the one thousand feet track then beating last years champ Urs Erbacher in the final. The new round at Germany’s Hockenheimring saw Carter go out in round one.
With just the final to be run at the European Finals as the rain returned, Andy Carter was declared the 2008 FIA European Top Fuel Champion (subject to ratification) over Lex Joon by just one point. Of the eight cars that made the Finals, Carter led with the only four in the one shot qualifier, a 4.908/293 with Joon close behind with a 5.004/306. Finland’s Risto Poutiainen was Carter’s first round victim, a 4.747/317 beat the slowed up 6.489/137 and a parachute dragging 5.057/237 gave Carter a lucky second round win as opponent Tommi Haapanen from Finland had problems leaving late and slowing to a 17.80/67 lose.
Top Methanol Dragster
Once more the top two in the class of eight were right together in the points at the year end and it was an all German affair led by Timo Habermann on 274 points with Peter Schöfer close on his heels just four points behind. It was a two horse race between the top two with Brit Rob Turner vying for a top three place and former multi champion Dave Wilson in fourth still getting to grips with his A/Fuel car. Rounding out the top five was Norwegian Paul Ingar Udtian. Man of the moment had to be late starter Derek Flynn with his ex Larry Miersch nitro burner who clocked some impressive numbers on the two test days before the Finals, a 6.08 first pass followed by a 5.8 a 5.6 and a 5.5 before all the rain set in. However, Flynn did notch up a 5.499/253 as top qualifier before beating Wilson in round one.
The FIA Top Methanol Dragster Championship went in the end to Germany’s Peter Schöfer in the Bavarian Thunder car; the team have been chasing the championship for a repeat win for several years and finally wrapped it up with bests of number three (5.629/255) qualifier at the rained out Main Event, a number two qualifier in Finland coupled with an event win over Timo Habermann, 5.543/257 to a losing 6.424/157. A runner up place in Sweden behind England’s Rob Turner 5.608/248 as the blower burst panel boomed slowing Peter to a 6.089/195 and on home turf a round two loss to Timo Habermann, 5.510/254 to a losing 5.829/252.
At the Euro Finals Schöfer was down in seventh qualifier position then ran a 5.586/254 beating Rob Turner’s close 5.584/248. Habermann did not make the round suffering qualifying breakage of the big end bearing on the crankshaft that dealt him out of the points and sat Peter Schöfer comfortably in as the FIA Top Methanol Dragster Champion for 2008.
Top Methanol Funny Car
Ulf Leanders had a fairly commanding lead in the alky flopper division points coming into the European Finals, nearest rival was fellow Swede Leif Andréasson some seventy points behind with Norway’s Arvid Grødem thirty-two behind Andréasson and Finland’s Jarmo Kuutniemi twenty-five behind that with Denmark’s Dan Larsen making it into fifth spot out of the eight cars entered.
Ulf Leanders held onto that lead with a history of number one qualifiers at the rain hampered Main Event in England, (5.726/248) a 5.736/241 and the event win in Finland, a 5.694/249 beating the 6.941/186 from Finn Jarmo Kuutniemi. A ride up from fourth qualifier in Sweden to wrapping up the event win with a 5.876/245 and beating Norway’s Arvid Grødem’s crossed up 6.193/203, whilst in Germany it was back to pole position but a second round loss to event winner Leif Andréasson, 5.811/249 to a 5.880/246 closed the gap a bit.
A lowly 7.690/208 placed Leanders seventh in the eight car field back at the Euro Finals and a first round loss to Belgium’s Danny Bellio due to a thrown blower belt did him no favours allowing Leif Andréasson to march further forward but the evening rain that ended the event placed Ulf Leanders still ahead of the pack, this awarding him the 2008 FIA European Top Methanol Funny Car Championship.
There was a seventeen point lead in the factory hot rod ranks as they entered the Euro Finals and it was four times winner Jimmy Ålund from Sweden that held that lead as Finland’s Richard Sundblom chased from second. Sweden’s Michael Malmgren ran in third place thirty-four points behind and in fourth spot came fellow countryman Magnus Hansson eighteen points below leaving the fifth place, another Swede, Tommy Leindahl one point behind that.
There were some tough cars and drivers out there particularly this season with some new cars from the US, Richard Sundblom in particular who started the year with top qualifier places at the rained out Main Event then another in his home country of Finland, 6.730/203 and 6.770/204 respectively. It was by sheer hard work that Sweden’s Jimmy Ålund accounted for number two qualifier at the Main Event with new records of 6.766 and 204mph, an event win in Finland beating Tommy Leindahl 6.881/200 to a losing 6.954/198. In Sweden Ålund took pole position on a 6.853/201 but went out in round two beaten by Sundblom’s 6.989/200 to a 7.002/198. There was no Pro Stock round in Germany leaving Ålund with the lead.
It was at the European Finals that Jimmy Ålund in the Klintberg & Way Partners backed Pontiac GTO kept control with a top qualifier place from a 6.837/201 in the nine car field. The class got two rounds completed before the dreaded rain returned on the Sunday cutting short anyone else’s chances of catching the flying Ålund. A round one win of 6.828/201 beat Jan Palmqvist’s 7.01/199 then a 6.807/203 beat Magnus Hansson’s 6.892/200. Sundblom had dispatched Tommy Leindahl in one then Michael Malmgren in two to face Ålund in the final, however Jimmy Ålund had wrapped up the FIA European Pro Stock Championship before the relentless rain returned.
The Lindahl identical twins, driver Mikael and Crew Chief Magnus from Sweden came into the European Finals with a substantial lead in the points, nearest rival Holland’s Marc Meihuizen sixty-three behind with fellow countryman Robert Joosten twenty-nine points behind that. Swedes, Patrik Wikström and Mats Eriksson were just three and five points below Joosten respectively. The class has had huge entries all year with twenty-five turning up for the European Finals.
A resurgent Urban Johansson from Sweden seemed to lead the way as the season started; a pole position 6.226/230 at the wet Main Event was just ahead of Lindahl’s 6.330/225 before the rain took control. In Finland Johansson ruled the roost once more with a 6.190/230 with Lindahl down in third place on a 6.221/219 and in eliminations Lindahl lost to Patrik Wikström in the final. Luck did not continue in Sweden with a fourth place 6.267/226 then a loss in round two to Holland’s Marc Meihuizen ended his point run. Meihuizen runner upped at that event to fellow Dutchman Robert Joosten 6.416/221 to a shaking 7.758/114. In the German round Micke Lindahl sat in second qualifying place behind German Norbert Kuno 6.306/226 and 6.309/239 but Lindahl ran all the way through and took the event win in the Team Kendall Camaro, a 6.260/240 beat Rolf Ammann’s slowed up 10.281/80.
At the Euro Finals it was the nitrous Mustang of Roger Johansson that led the pack with a 6.324/221 leaving Lindahl way down on the bump spot of sixteen after an all over his lane attempt whilst avoiding centre line crossing Meihuizen, a subsequent rerun got the lowly 7.772/193 for Lindahl. It was a first round close to the guard wall pass that saw the demise in eliminations of Micke Lindahl as Roger Johansson went through but Lindahl had accrued enough points to become the 2008 FIA European Pro Modified Champion.
Super Twin Bike
Last years Champion, Switzerland’s Lorenz Stäuble lay in third place coming into the Euro Finals on 127 points, one below Sweden’s Per Bengtsson who was well below leader, Norway’s Svein Olav Rolfstad on 162 points. Laying fourth was another Norwegian, Hans Olav Olstad then Sweden’s Tommy Möller. Rolfstad’s lead was certainly helped with the experience he got riding in the US last year.
The year started well for Stäuble qualifying number one at the rainy Main Event in England with a 6.629/206 and Rolfstad on his tail with a 7.007/193. At the Finland event Svein Olav Rolfstad took the final beating his fellow countryman Hans Olav Olstad, 6.720/206 to the 6.923/205 try. The Swedish meeting at Mantorp Park was run over the eighth mile for safety reasons and it saw Sweden’s Per Bengtsson make the move in qualifying with a 4.360/154 ahead of Rolfstad’s 4.393/168 but it was Rolfstad that had the final say by taking the win with a 4.421/167 as Bengtsson no showed in the final. The Norwegian event was rained off.
The European Finals saw the one allowed qualifier in favour of Svein Olav Rolfstad with a 7.026/194 well ahead of the other riders and leaving notables like Hans Olav Olstad at number five with a lowly 10.886/99 and surprisingly Lorenz Stäuble on the bump with a below par 12.584/60. Eliminations never got past round one as the rain fell again in the evening but not before Svein Olav Rolfstad had notched up enough points with his first round bye to take the 2008 UEM European Super Twin title.
Top Fuel Bike
This is the class that pits Top Fuel Bike against all comers such as Funny Bike and it was on such a machine that the leader rode into the Euro Finals with the points lead, Sweden’s Rikard Gustafsson on 139 points just twelve points ahead of defending Champion Ian King. Sweden’s Peter Svensson has accumulated ninety-four points just one ahead of Frenchman Eric Teboul who was thirteen in front of Finland’s Kai Selkamaa making up the top five in a sixteen bike field.
Teboul started the year well with the Main Event pole position, a 6.293/211 with King still putting his bike together and failing to get it on the track before the rain, Gustafsson made it to third place with a fine 6.504/201. Finland saw King strike back with a number one qualifier of 6.538 and then going on to take the event win with a series of 6.4s including a track record 6.446. At Sweden’s Mantorp Park the race was run over the eighth mile and had Peter Svensson dominate taking the 4.063 eighth mile record then going on to secure the event win over Gustafsson. The Norwegian round was rained out.
Entering the European Finals it was Norway’s Sverre Dahl that was the clear leader with a 6.197/231 stunner of a qualifier ahead of Svensson’s 6.274/204 and King’s 6.284/212 and Gustafsson down in the DNQ alternate riders! It was just the first round that was completed and with Gustafsson out and Svensson crossing lanes it left Ian King with another UEM European Top Fuel Bike Championship making it a back to back one for the team.
Pro Stock Bike
Fredrik Fredlund hails from an island called Åland just off the coast between Finland and Sweden and was the point leader with quite a substantial lead on entering the Euro Finals, forty-two ahead of nearest rival, Sweden’s Ulf Ögge who managed to stay ahead of England’s Martin Bishop on 118 closely followed by other Brits Chris Hope and Richard Gipp on 97 and 91 apiece.
Denmark’s Tom Tinndahn led the pack at the start of the year with a 7.264/182 at the washed out Main Event but did not feature after that event. It was Fredlund that racked up the wins one after the other in Finland where he beat Ögge then in Sweden he defeated Greek rider Stavros Svrachnos before obtaining pole position before the rains fell in Norway.
Fredrik Fredlund had to make do with the number three qualifier at the European Finals behind Britain’s Len Paget on 7.527/179 and Ulf Ögge on pole with a 7.502/182. It was only the first round that was run before rain set in on the finals day and even though Fredlund stalled the bike off the line against Greek rider Mixalis Tsoutsidi he had amassed enough points to take the 2008 UEM European Pro Stock Bike title.
Race report by Roger Gorringe. www.eurodragster.com & www.nitroexposure.co.uk © September 2008. Photos by DJ.
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