Rain makes early end to FHRA Nitro Nationals in Finland
Rain made an early end to the FHRA Nitro Nationals at Alastaro, Finland. After an exiting first round in Top Fuel and Pro Modified, with an early exit of number one qualifier Michael Gullqvist, a thunderstorm interrupted the third round of the FIA European Drag Racing Championship. The track crew almost got the Alastaro dragstrip in racing condition twice, when at 3.30 PM another heavy shower left the race director no other option than to cancel the event.
After two sunny days with good conditions and great qualifying, the weather was not with the racers at Alastaro, Finland. And that was a pity, as the first round in Top Fuel and Pro Modified saw some exiting racing, great elapsed times and major upsets.
In Top Fuel there were two major upsets in the first round. Number two qualifier Janne Ahonen lost traction and was defeated by number seven qualifier Liam Jones. After mechanical problems in qualifying, Jones improved to 4.19 seconds and that was too quick for the Finnish ski jumping legend.
The other major upset was the elimination of reigning FIA European Top Fuel champion Micke Kågered. The Swede saw Stefan Gunnarsson storm to 4.31 seconds and take the win. There were no problems for number one qualifier Stig Neergaard, as the Dane defeated Antti Horto in a close run (4.19 and 4.22 seconds). Anita Mäkelä, championship leader before the Alastaro race, improved on her qualifying performance with 4.18 seconds, the best elapsed time of the first round, to beat Timo Lehtimäki. With his better qualifying results at Alastaro, Neergaard is the new leader after three races, only one point ahead of Mäkelä. Kågered is third and Jones fourth.
In Pro Modified there was a major upset as reigning FIA European champion, number one qualifier and leader in the 2016 championship, Michael Gullqvist, pulled a red light in the first round against Fredrik Fagerström and was out of competition.
That gave Bruno Bader, Mats Eriksson, Johan Lindberg and David Vegter the chance to make up some points to the leader. All four impressed with great runs and great numbers in their first round. Eriksson (6.09 seconds) defeated Ǻke Persson, Bader (6.16 seconds) was too quick for Håkan Persson, Lindberg (6.11 seconds) beat Andreas Arthursson and Vegter (6.17 seconds) defeated Rolf Simonsson.
The rain came to help for Gullqvist as no further rounds could be run and no more points given. Gullqvist is still in the lead, with Bader second and Eriksson third.
Top Methanol Funny Car ran their semi-finals at Alastaro. As both Johnny Oksa and Ari Pietilä had a bye run, it would have been an all Finnish final. Oksa is leading the championship with Pietilä in second position.
Pro Stock was in the line-up for their first round when the first heavy rain shower came, and so the factory hot rods had no racing action at all on eliminations day at Alastaro. Jimmy Ǻlund is still leading the championship, with Alastaro number one qualifier Bengt Ljungdahl in second position and reigning champion Thomas Lindström third.
The FIA European Drag Racing Championship continues August 19-21 with the NitrOlympX at the Hockenheimring, Germany.
All results can be found: http://www.fhra.fi/keskustelu/threads/7-10-7-2016-fhra-em-osakilpailu-nitro-nationals.485/ (scroll down the page to see the results)
FIA European Drag Racing Championship points standings after round three:
Text and photos: Remco Scheelings