Antti Horto, Sandro Bellio, Michael Gullqvist and Jimmy Ålund winners at Tierp Arena
Antti Horto from Finland raced to victory in the Top Fuel final of the Dico Internationals, round five of the FIA European Drag Racing Championship at Tierp Arena, Sweden. It was the first win for the young Finnish driver this season, who is also the number two in the championship standing at this moment. In Top Methanol Sandro Bellio won for the second consecutive time at Tierp Arena, as the young Belgian driver won the first Top Methanol race of his career in June at the same track. Reigning Pro Modified champion Michael Gullqvist was the winner in his category and also reset the European record to 5.834 seconds. In Pro Stock 10-time FIA European champion Jimmy Ålund defeated Stefan Ernryd in the final and took the win.
The FIA European Drag Racing Championship has one of its best seasons ever as it was another great day of racing with exciting eliminations and great elapsed times at Tierp Arena, the state-of-the-art drag race facility north of Stockholm, Sweden. The Dico Internationals was the fifth and penultimate round of the FIA European Championship.
There were several major upsets in the first round of eliminations in Top Fuel. Championship leader Duncan Micallef and still reigning champion Anita Mäkelä had to face each other several times this season and every time the Maltese driver was the winner. But at Tierp the Finnish fan favourite won. It was the first time this season that Micallef lost an elimination round! Stig Neergaard, the number three in the championship, couldn’t stop his car after the burn out and saw Michael Kågered take the win light. Antti Horto, the number two in the championship, bounced back after a difficult qualifying and defeated Jndia Erbacher in the first round, to improve to a great 3.99 seconds to beat Mäkelä in the semifinal. In the final the young Finnish driver had to face Kågered, who took the win in the second semifinal when Liam Jones’ (the number one qualifier) chutes deployed in the burn out.
Horto was in a class of his own in the final as the Finn recorded another 3.99 seconds to take the win, his first win of the 2017 season. Horto closed the gap in the championship to Micallef and the Finn still has a fair chance to win the title in England.
In Top Methanol Sandro Bellio was the man to beat in eliminations. In the first round the Belgian driver defeated Jonny Lagg in a great 5.52 seconds, to improve to a stunning 5.44 seconds in the semifinal against Dennis Habermann. The 5.44 seconds is one the quickest elapsed times ever in Europe!
In the final Bellio had to face championship leader Timo Habermann. Bellio lost traction at the start line, but could come back and win when the German driver suffered mechanical problems. The Dico Internationals was Bellio’s third Top Methanol race ever and the Belgian driver scored two wins (at Tierp) and one runner-up finish!
Eliminations in Pro Modified at Tierp Arena were record setting, with several 5.8 elapsed times and side-by-side 5.9 and 5.8-second runs. There were two major upsets in the first round as David Vegter and Roger Johansson, the numbers four and five qualifiers were both defeated. The numbers one, two and three qualifiers, Åke Persson, Jimmy Ålund and Michael Gullqvist did extremely well and all advanced to the semifinals. Persson had no problems to defeat the surprise semifinalist Freddy Fagerström, but the run between Ålund and Gullqvist was stunning, as Ålund recorded 5.88 seconds, but was beaten by Gullqvist’s 5.86 seconds.
In the final the reigning champion even stepped up and ran 5.834 seconds, a new European record, to defeat Persson (5.96 seconds). Gullqvist recorded four (!) 5.8-second runs in eliminations and extended his lead in the championship.
In Pro Stock there was a major upset in the first round of eliminations when championship leader Bengt Ljungdahl was defeated by Stefan Ernryd, the number two in the championship standing. Ernryd improved to a great 6.59 seconds in the semifinal to defeat Richard Sundblom, the number three qualifier from Finland. In the final Ernryd had to face Jimmy Ålund, the number one qualifier and 10-time European Pro Stock champion.
After 6.55 seconds in the semifinal, Ålund improved to a great 6.53 seconds in the final, to defeat Ernryd, who came close with a great 6.58 seconds. With his runner-up finish, Ernryd closed the gap to championship leader Ljungdahl and can still win his first European championship at Santa Pod.
The FIA European Drag Racing Championship continues in two weeks time with the European Finals at Santa Pod Raceway, England, September 7-10.
For all see: http://www.dragracing.eu/results.asp?id=2&year=2017 and www.eurodragster.com
More photos from the Dico Internationals can be found at: http://www.dragracingeurope.eu/fiaedc/dico-internationals-24-27-august-2017/