The 2018 Tierp Internationals on track and from the pits

Less than two weeks after the season kick off in England, the FIA European Drag Racing Championship was back on track at the state-of-the-art Tierp Arena for round two, the Tierp Internationals. And once again the Tierp race had everything that makes drag racing so interesting; large numbers of entrants in all classes, record bump spots, exciting races, great elapsed times, holeshot wins and surprise winners. All qualifying and eliminations results were published on the Dragracingeurope.eu website during the event, and all details can always be reviewed in the excellent live coverage on Eurodragster.com. In this article we look back at some highlights and other interesting things that happened during the Tierp Internationals at Tierp Arena.

With ten entrants for an 8-car elimination ladder, qualifying in Top Fuel was a race in itself. But it was strange to see that Top Fuel was the only class where the elapsed times were not as quick as expected. Probable the fast changing weather conditions and high temperatures played a major role in this.

There was one team that seemed to have no problems at all, as in the first qualifying run Anita Mäkelä immediately stormed to a great 3.905 seconds to claim the number one qualifying position.

Mikael Kågered bounced back from a difficult Main Event and was the number two qualifier with 4.07 seconds.

Timo Lehtimäki started his FIA campaign at Tierp and surprised with a new personal best of 4.13 seconds and the number three qualifying position. After their dominant performance at Santa Pod, the three Rune Fjeld Motorsport fuelers were struggling with the air and track conditions at Tierp.

Antti Horto and Duncan Micallef went up in smoke several times and couldn’t do better than fourth and fifth. The problems were even bigger for Liam Jones, as the British driver needed his fourth and final run to get into the field and pushed Björn Mårtensson out of the elimination ladder.

In the first round of eliminations the CBD Asylum dragster finally did what the tuners wanted it to do and Jones stormed to a stunning 3.909 seconds. The RF Motorsport driver would have won every other round with this elapsed time, but as Mäkelä had a better reaction time and recorded an only 0.01 seconds slower elapsed time, the Finnish 2016 FIA European champion won on a holeshot and Jones was out. With 3.909 seconds at 503.7 km/h and 3.919 seconds at 500.5 km/h this first round race was the quickest and fastest Top Fuel run ever in Europe.

In the semifinal Mäkelä remained in the 3.9 seconds to defeat Horto, who eliminated Micallef (up in smoke) in the first round. On the other side of the elimination ladder Kågered also needed a holeshot to beat Jöran Persåker in the first round, and had a bye run in the semifinal when Lehtimäki had to shut off his car after the Finn suffered a fuel leak in the burn out. Although the numbers one and two qualifiers had to face each other in the final, looking at the numbers so far, Mäkelä was the clear favourite in this classic confrontation that goes back to their days in the Top Alcohol categories.

Mäkelä lived up to the expectations and although the Finnish driver suffered a broken blower belt, the 4.84 seconds was more than enough to defeat Kågered and claim the victory.

With the Tierp win and Santa Pod runner up finish, Mäkelä is the new leader in the championship after two races.

Drag racing at its best

Pro Modified was once again a crowd pleaser with stunning elapsed times, numerous personal bests, close racing and a surprise winner. Before qualifying started, Andreas Arthursson was an outsider to win the event, but after the turbo Chevelle stormed to a stunning 5.86 seconds at 408 km/h on Friday, the Swede was upgraded to one of the favourites. Only Jimmy Ålund went quicker with 5.84 seconds to claim the number one qualifying position.

After a difficult Friday, Michael Gullqvist improved to 5.88 seconds to finish qualifying in third position. With Jan Ericsson (5.93 seconds), David Vegter (5.94 seconds), Kim Kristiansen (5.96 seconds) and a surprise Michael Joneskog (5.98 seconds, his first 5-second run), there were no fewer than seven drivers to qualify in the 5-second zone. Lars Järpler was the number 16 qualifier and his 6.23 seconds made the Tierp Internationals Pro Mod field to the quickest ever in Europe.

In eliminations Ålund and Arthursson carried on from where they left off with recording stunning 5.8-second runs, and like in Top Fuel, the numbers one and two qualifiers both advanced to the final. Ålund produced a string of 5.8-second runs to defeat Järpler in the first round and Roger Johansson, who improved on his earlier performance with a 5.97 seconds in the quarter finals. Norbert Kuno was Ålund’s surprise opponent in the semifinal, after the German defeated Ericsson in the quarter finals in a new personal best of 6.03 seconds. Kuno’s race ended in the semifinal, as Ålund ran another 5.8 seconds.

On the other side of the elimination ladder Arthursson was both quick and consistent as well. After defeating Marco Maurischat in the quarter finals with 5.89 seconds, Arthursson had to face the at Tierp almost unbeatable Gullqvist in the semifinal. In a great race the turbo Chevelle stormed to another 5.88 seconds to defeat the reigning champion. With the two fastest, quickest and most consistent 5.8-second cars in the final, the Pro Mod final promised to be the race of the weekend. Unfortunately it ended in an anticlimax as Ålund’s engine didn’t fire up and Arthursson had a solo run to the victory. But with another 5.88 seconds at 407 km/h, Arthursson proved his consistency and is no longer an outsider and even a favourite to break the European Pro Mod elapsed time and speed records. With his runner up finish, Ålund is the new leader in the championship, with Gullqvist only nine points behind in second position.

Another Habermann 1-2

In Top Methanol the Habermann brothers Timo and Dennis carried on from where they left off in England. This time it was Timo’s turn to claim the number one qualifying position with a great 5.31 seconds, with Dennis second with 5.34 seconds.

But most attention was focused on Jonny Lagg as the Swede reset his personal best several times to finish qualifying in third position with a great 5.35 seconds.

Johnny Oksa was the first and quickest of the five Funny Cars, but the 2016 TMFC champion was out of competition after a heavy crash in qualifying round four (see below). Behind Ari Pietilä the young Norwegian rider Linn Engan Karlsen made steady progress, while last year’s winner Sandro Bellio had the same tyre shake problems he suffered at Santa Pod. Mikael Larsson was the number eight qualifier and had to deal with some mechanical issues.

There were no major surprises in eliminations and so Timo Habermann advanced to the final, while on his way to the final Dennis Habermann won a close semifinal over Lagg. In the final Dennis was the quicker of the two brothers and claimed the win in 5.32 seconds. In the championship Timo Habermann is still in the lead, with Dennis only six points behind in second position.

Close competition

At the Tierp Internationals Pro Stock was exactly as it is supposed to be, close racing and holeshot wins. In qualifying Bengt Ljungdahl claimed the number one position with 6.5317 seconds, but the reigning champion was followed by 10-time champion Jimmy Ålund with 6.5322 seconds, a margin of only 0.0005 seconds! Stefan Ernryd was third with 6.54 seconds, while Thomas Lindström (5.581 seconds), Michael Malmgren (6.590 seconds) and Robin Norén (6.598 seconds, his first 6.5 seconds and personal best) were even closer together. Magnus Petersson was the number eight qualifier. The Swede recorded 6.671 seconds, only 0.14 seconds from pole position, making the Tierp Pro Stock field the quickest ever.

There was a major upset in the first round when reigning champion Ljungdahl lost on a hole shot against Petersson. Michael Malmgren, the number five qualifier, defeated Lindström and advanced to the final when Petersson suffered tyre shake in the semifinal.

After defeating Norén in the first round, Ernryd had to face Ålund in the semifinal. In a great race Ernryd stormed to his second consecutive 6.60-second, to beat the 10-time champion.

In the final Ernryd was a bit too quick, pulled a 0.001 second red light, handing the win to Malmgren, the Swede’s first Pro Stock victory in a very long time. After his win in England and runner up finish at Tierp, Ernryd is leading the championship, with Malmgren in second position and reigning champion Ljungdahl third.

Dennis Nilsson’s Top Fuel debut didn’t go according to plan. During the technical inspection it was determined that the distance between the driver’s crash helmet and the roll cage was less than what it should be according the rule book. The roll cage was separated from the chassis and ME Racing Services rebuild it. On Friday the new roll cage arrived at the track and was welded together with the chassis in a workshop under the main building at Tierp Arena. On Saturday morning the car was race ready in the pits and Nilsson could finally make the first runs in his own car.

There was drama for Johnny Oksa in qualifying when the Finn crossed the finish line with over 400 km/h and the chutes didn’t deploy. Oksa went into the gravel trap and rolled over. Although he felt okay, the safety crew and medical staff didn’t want to take any risk and cut the roll cage from the chassis to extricate the driver from the car. After a medical inspection in the hospital, Oksa was back at Tierp a few hours later. All the hard work during the last few months to build an almost new car with a new Mustang body was lost in a few seconds.

On Saturday there were a lot of people in the grandstands to watch all the exciting action

Traction problems for the RF Motorsport cars. An up in smoke for Antti Horto

and Duncan Micallef as well

And you are sure that you have the same setup as your teammate when you go up in smoke at exactly the same moment

Robin Norén, Pro Stock finalist at Santa Pod, had a difficult Friday. On Saturday the young Swedish Pro Stock driver bounced back with a new personal best, his first 5.5-second run (5.598 seconds) and the number seven qualifying position.

That makes a crew happy.

David Vegter suffered engine problems in the fourth qualifying run when the Camaro blew the head gasket. The block, head and bodywork were damaged and many parts had to be replaced. Mats Brag welded the block and head, while Kenneth Holmberg of Swecomposite worked on the body. The crew worked until Sunday morning 4 AM to fix everything. At 8.30 AM the engine was alive again and nothing reminded on what happened the day before.

With two Top Methanol Dragsters you also need some more wheels

The most beautiful Pro Mod is now also one of the fastest, quickest and a race winner, the Chevelle driven by Andreas Arthursson.

Mikael Larsson lives in Gävle, only 45 kilometers from Tierp. Of course family, friends and many of his local sponsors came to Tierp to meet the team. The red carpet was there.

There was bad luck for Timo Lehtimäki. After defeating Stefan Gunnarsson in the first round, a fuel line broke in the burn out of the semifinal and the Finn had to shut off the engine.

There was also bad luck for Ari Pietilä. The Finn suffered severe engine damage in the first round of eliminations. The team finished the rebuild just in time and entered the line-up at the moment that Timo Habermann almost had to start his engine. But all the hard work didn’t pay off as the engine of Pietilä’s Funny Car failed to start.

After a longer period in Pro Modified, Jöran Persåker was back in Top Fuel. In the car formerly driven by Monica Oberg, and tuned by Dan Söderberg, the Swede qualified in seventh position, but was defeated in the first round on a holeshot by Mikael Kågered.

Liam Jones smiles but is not happy. Finally the car did what it was supposed to do and ran 3.909 seconds at 503 km/h, but even that was not enough as the CBD Asylum driver was defeated on a holeshot by Anita Mäkelä.

Anita Mäkelä could smile again

Kim Kristiansen had to a busy weekend. On Friday the Danish team had to replace the engine and on Saturday they had to repair the bodywork when a chute took the wrong way and came out through the rear window. But Kristiansen also reset his personal best to 5.91 seconds.

It was a good weekend for the German Pro Mod drivers. Marco Maurischat, after a few seasons in the MSA British Pro Modified Championship back in the FIA Championship, reset his personal best in qualifying to 6.03 seconds and won his first round over Michael Joneskog. In the quarter final Maurischat was defeated by race winner Andreas Arthursson.

Norbert Kuno, the other German racer, had a good weekend as well. In the quarter final Kuno reset his personal best to 6.03 seconds and advanced to the semifinals, were he was defeated by Jimmy Ålund.

Hard work sometimes pays off with a final, as happened with Mikael Kågered

and with Anita Mäkelä

Umbrellas were almost only needed as a protection against the sun. Only short before the start of the finals there were some rain drops.

In August we will be back.