Three Finns and a Greek rule in Kauhava
With three winners from Finland, the home crowd had plenty to cheer about after the eliminations for the FHRA Nitro Nationals, round two of the EDRS Pro Nordic Motorcycle Championship. At the brand new drag racing facility at Kauhava, Harri Piensalmi claimed the victory in Super Twin Motorcycle, while in Pro Stock Motorcycle Fredrik Fredlund defeated Janne Koskinen in an all Finnish final. In Super Street Bike there was an all Finnish final as well, with Vesa Ruhanen defeating Ida Zetterström. In Top Fuel Motorcycle Filippos Papafilippou from Greece claimed the victory, and just like Ruhanen, it was his second consecutive win of the 2019 EDRS Pro Nordic MC.
After the opening round at Tierp Arena, Sweden, Kauhava was host to the second round of the EDRS Pro Nordic Motorcycle Championship. The FHRA Nitro Nationals was also round three of the FIM Europe European Drag Bike Championship. For almost all riders Kauhava was an unknown track, and although some were struggling with the sometimes rapidly changing track conditions, the motorcycle classes had fewer problems then some of the FIA car categories.
Great side-by-side runs
In Top Fuel Motorcycle Rikard Gustafsson and Filippos Papafilippou stunned once again with great 5.8 and 5.9-second side-by-side runs. After four runs the rider from Sweden was the number one qualifier with 5.836 seconds, closely followed by Papafilippou with 5.865 seconds.
Jan Sturla Hegre couldn’t match the elapsed times of the two quickest and fastest Top Fuel Motorcycle riders in Europe, but the rider from Norway claimed the number three position with 6.39 seconds.
In fourth position Thomas Pettersson was the first Funny Bike rider with 6.96 seconds, with Mikko Rajaniemi, Willem Been and Vesa Lipponen in fifth, sixth and seventh position.
It seemed to be pretty sure that Gustafsson and Papafilippou would face each other in the final to race for the victory. But in the semi-final there was a major upset when Gustafsson pulled a red light, handing the win and place in the final to Pettersson.
On the other side of the elimination ladder Papafilippou didn’t make any mistakes and with a bye run in the first round and a 5.97-second win over Hegre in the semi-final, the rider from Greece advanced to the final. Because Pettersson couldn’t come back for the final, Papafilippou claimed the victory in 6.07 seconds. After winning in Tierp, it was the second consecutive EDRS Pro Nordic MC victory for the Greek.
Harri Piensalmi surprises
In Super Twin Motorcycle, Marcus Christiansen claimed the number one qualifying position with a great 6.42 second elapsed time. Martijn de Haas finished qualifying in second position with a great 6.64 seconds, with the three Finnish home favourites Harri Piensalmi, Samu Kemppainen and Torsti Kettula third, fourth and fifth.
Hans Olav Olstad had some mechanical problems in qualifying and was the first rider in the 7-second zone in sixth position, with Gert-Jan Laseur seventh and Roman Sixta eighth. Teemu Tettula and Greger Johansson didn’t qualify for the 8-bike ladder.
In the first round of eliminations Christiansen stormed to another 6.4 seconds to defeat Sixta, and then had to face home favourite Kemppainen. After a great 6.62 vs 6.75-second side-by-side run Christiansen advanced to final. On the other side of the eliminations ladder Piensalmi was too quick for Olstad and then had to face Laseur, who was the surprise winner in the first round over his countryman De Haas.
In another close semi-final Piensalmi claimed the win over Laseur with 7.14 vs 7.16 seconds. In the final Christiansen was of course the favourite to win the race, but as soon as the Danish rider started his burn out, a mechanical problem forced the reigning champion to shut off his engine. Thus Piensalmi had a bye run in the final and claimed the victory.
Another one for Fredrik Fredlund
Without Tierp Arena winner Kalle Lyrén, Fredrik Fredlund was of course the clear favourite at Kauhava. In qualifying the Finn stormed to a great 7.09 seconds to claim the number one qualifying position.
Kenneth Holmberg was the number two qualifier with a troubled Lasse Koskinen third. But the Finn was happy to be back, as it looked like his season was over after his finish line crash at Tierp a few weeks ago.
As Holmberg had to withdraw from eliminations, it was an all Finnish final between Fredlund and Koskinen. Although Fredlund had a far from perfect run with 7.43 seconds, it was more than enough to defeat a struggling Koskinen.
Another Finnish final
In Super Street Bike Vesa Ruhanen stormed to a great 7.08 seconds to claim the number one qualifying position. The home favourite was followed by two drivers from the UK.
Stephan Mead surprised with a great 7.15 second elapsed time to claim the second position, while Alex Hope improved to 7.22 seconds and jumped into the third position.
Anders Blanck was fourth, with a struggling Mogens Lund fifth. Kimmo Pulakka, Ida Zetterström and Mark Hope completed the 8-bike ladder.
While Ruhanen didn’t make any mistakes and defeated Mark Hope and Lund to advance to the final, Zetterström, the number seven qualifier, surprised on the other side of the elimination ladder with major improvements.
In the first round Zetterström took an upset win over Mead, to defeat Alex Hope in the semi-final with a great 7.28-second elapsed time.
But in the final the female rider from Finland couldn’t surprise again as Ruhanen stormed to another great 7.14 seconds to claim the win, after his Tierp Arena win, the Finn’s second consecutive victory of the 2019 EDRS Pro Nordic MC season.
Super Comp Bike
In Super Comp Bike Kim Oksanen claimed the number one qualifying position with the almost perfect 8.504 seconds elapsed time, closely followed by Peter Östlund with 8.521 seconds. Petri Koivuniemi recorded the third elapsed time with 8.567 seconds, with Juha Hervi fourth.
In the semi-finals Koivuniemi defeated number one qualifier Oksanen, while Östlund defeated Hervi. Due to some rain delays during the day, the 8 PM curfew was already reached when Super Comp Bike had to run their final and so that last run had to be cancelled.
Super Gas Bike
In Super Gas Bike it was even closer in qualifying then it already was in Super Comp Bike. In this 9.5-second index category Viivi Ollikainen recorded the perfect 9.500 second elapsed time to claim the number one qualifying position, with Jenni Pekkarinen second (9.508 seconds) and Juha Komulainen third.
But in eliminations none of the top three qualifiers reached the semi-finals as title favourite Pekkarinen lost in the first round, while Ollikainen and Komulainen were defeated in the quarter finals. In the semi-finals Jyrki Sinisalo took the win over Jari Malinen, while Nico Verronen had a bye run into the final.
Because Super Gas Bike was in the same group as Super Comp Bike, the final for the 9.5-second index category couldn’t be run either.
SSB brothers Alex and Mark Hope, a long trip from the UK
Wheels up in Kauhava
See you all in Gardermoen for round 3 of the EDRS Pro Nordic Motorcycle Championship