Anita Mäkelä defeats Birgitte Bremnes in first-ever all-female FIA Top Fuel final
Anita Mäkelä raced to victory at the Tierp Internationals in a historic race as it was the first-ever all-female Top Fuel final in the history of the FIA European Drag Racing Championship. Mäkelä defeated Birgitte Bremnes, and as the Finnish racer was the only driver to record 3.9-second runs at Tierp Arena, she deserved the win at the track where Mäkelä already made history last year with her European record runs.
Tierp Arena and Anita Mäkelä seem to be a good combination, as last year the Finnish racer dominated the August race with a string of 3.9-second runs and a 3.87 second European record. After her first round exit at The Main Event, Mäkelä was on a mission in Sweden to decrease the gap to championship leader and Main Event winner Stig Neergaard. As at Santa Pod, there were eight entrants for the race at Tierp, with the only difference being that Birgitte Bremnes took over the driver’s seat from Steve Ashdown in one of the Rune Fjeld Motorsport cars. The young and talented Norwegian driver had her last outing in August last year at Gardermoen.
Unfortunately, qualifying was badly affected by the rain, and the four originally planned qualifying sessions had to be rescheduled to two runs on the Friday evening. Especially for the powerful Top Fuel cars, it was extremely difficult to find a good set-up for the green and cold track, and as the time between the first and second round was pretty short, only Mäkelä came back for a second run. While other drivers thought it would be impossible to improve on their earlier performance, at 10 PM the Finnish racer proved it was possible, as she collected the bonus points for the best run of the session, and improved to 4.46 seconds to jump from sixth to second in the qualifying list.
Number one qualifier was Urs Erbacher with an impressive 4.08 seconds. Behind Mäkelä, reigning FIA European champion Micke Kågered was third and Bremnes in her first run of the year in the 2015 Duncan Micallef car fourth, proving she didn’t need much time to get used to the ‘Manta machine’.
Neergaard had serious traction problems and found his name back in fifth place, with Björn Mårtensson and Stefan Gunnarsson in sixth and seventh. Liam Jones was eighth and last and knew he had the difficult job to meet Erbacher in round one.
There were totally different conditions on race day as the sun was back and provided a track that suited the Top Fuelers much better. After his unsuccessful qualifying run, Jones did much better in the first round against Erbacher, but still the 4.37 seconds was not enough to beat the multiple champion from Switzerland. Mäkelä had a bye run when Gunnarsson had problems at the start line, but as everybody knows, Mäkelä never takes it easy in the Dom Lagana tuned car and stormed to 4.02 seconds, already coming close to the 3-second zone.
A still not trouble free Kågered (4.52 seconds) advanced to the next round by defeating Mårtensson (5.66 seconds). Looking at the qualifying list it was no upset, but for the championship standings it sure was, as Main Event winner Neergaard went up-in-smoke at the start line to see Bremnes disappear and cross the finish line in a winning 4.23 seconds.
In the semi-finals Bremnes had to face multiple FIA European champion Erbacher. In a great run the Norwegian driver had the better reaction time and improved to 4.14 seconds to defeat Erbacher. Once again Mäkelä had to face Kågered, and as always, the reigning champion has his best run when Mäkelä is in the other lane. Kågered’s 4.04 seconds was by far his best ET of the weekend, but this time it was not enough to beat Mäkelä, as she stormed to 3.95 seconds, the first 3-second run of the event.
With Mäkelä and Bremnes, the Tierp Internationals had the first-ever all-female Top Fuel final in the history of the FIA European Drag Racing Championship. Of course Mäkelä was the favourite to win this historic race, but after beating Neergaard and Erbacher, for the still surprised Bremnes everything was possible.
The former Junior Dragster racer had the slightly better reaction time, but then Mäkelä stormed to her second 3-second run of the day and with 3.97 second took the win. Bremnes improved once again to 4.12 seconds, but this time it was not enough.
Mäkelä is the new leader in Top Fuel after the Tierp Internationals, with Neergaard only seven points behind in second. Only two points short of the number two position, reigning champion Kågered is third and 35 points behind the Swede, Erbacher is fourth.
Tierp Internationals statistics
Low ET: Anita Mäkelä, 3.954 seconds
Top speed: Anita Mäkelä, 486.5 km/h
Link to final qualifying list:
Link to elimination ladder
Link to championship points standings after the Tierp Internationals
For more photos see:
Text: Remco Scheelings
Photos: Remco Scheelings