FIA European Drag Racing Championship

FIA European Drag Racing Championship round 2 at Tierp Arena

After a weather affected start at Santa Pod Raceway, the FIA European Drag Racing Championship continues with the SpeedEvents Internationals at Tierp Arena, Sweden. Due to the rain, no winners were crowned in England, so let’s hope the full points and trophies can be awarded after a great race weekend at Tierp Arena. The first round of the FIA European Championship was an indication who might be the title favourites this season, but with four rounds to go and a tough competition, anything can happen.

The FIA European Drag Racing Championship continues with the SpeedEvents Internationals on 13th – 16th June, at Tierp Arena, the state-of-the-art drag racing facility north of Stockholm. Speed Events, the organizer and promotor of the event, did a lot of promotion for the race meeting on social media, so don’t be surprised to see packed grandstands, as seen before at Santa Pod Raceway. Drag racing is one of the most popular forms of motorsport in Sweden and with favourites for a race win in all four classes, the fans will definitely show up to support their heroes. They can look forward to a tough battle in all four FIA classes at the SpeedEvents Internationals, with several new entrants compared to the opening round in England. Due to the rain, in Top Fuel, Top Methanol and Pro Stock only one elimination round was completed at Santa Pod, while Pro Modified had two elimination rounds. As a result, the points standing in all four categories is still very close.

Top Fuel

Jndia Erbacher and Duncan Micallef advanced to the final in round one at Santa Pod Raceway. The Swiss driver is leading the championship, but the bad news is that Erbacher will not be at Tierp. Due to study and work commitments the Monster Energy supported driver has to skip the race in Sweden and will not be able to defend her number one position. Micallef, the Maltese Lion who claimed the 2017 FIA European Top Fuel title, will go for a race win and take over the lead in the championship in his DM Motorsport/Rune Fjeld Motorsport dragster.

Out for revenge will be Susanne Callin. Due to mechanical issues in qualifying, the RF Motorsport/Slick Tricks Racing driver was not able to take part in the eliminations at Santa Pod. In her home country, Callin, the runner-up in last year’s title race, will do everything she can to close the gap to the leaders.

The SpeedEvents Internationals will be the first race of the season for Antti Horto. As he did last year, the 2022 FIA European Top Fuel champion from Finland will compete in a limited number of races this season. It’s certain that the Eagle Top Fuel Racing/RF Motorsport driver will try to prove that he is still and will always be a force to be reckoned with.

Top Methanol

Tony Bryntesson from Sweden and Sandro Bellio from Belgium were the finalists in England, before the rain brought an early end to the racing action. Former Top Fuel driver Bryntesson surprised with a great 5.36-second ET in qualifying, but also suffered traction problems several times.

But even far worse were the problems for Bellio, the 2019 and 2022 FIA European Top Methanol champion. After solving the oil pressure problems from qualifying, Bellio was on his way on a very quick run in the semi-finals, when a head gasket blew out and caused a big fire. As we are used to see from the Bellio family, they took the car apart the next day and started preparing to bounce back at Tierp, something they will definitely do to prove that they have de quickest and fastest funny car in Europe.

Jonny Lagg had all sorts of traction problems in England. The veteran driver from Sweden and his experienced crew had three weeks to sort out the problems and will try to do better at their home track. Silvio Strauch will be sadly missed at Tierp. Finally the tyreshake problems the driver from Germany had last season were solved at Santa Pod, and Strauch recorded a great 5.51-second ET in the semi-final. But the team found severe damage when servicing the engine after the run. Strauch wants to sort out what caused the damage, before going to another race.

After a far too long break Ari Pietilä will be back in the championship at Tierp. The driver from Finland updated his funny car to the latest standards and can definitely surprise.

Pro Modified

The Pro Modified category saw some fierce and tough competition at Santa Pod Raceway, and although the British competitors will not be at Tierp, with no fewer than 20 entrants from six countries, the Pro Modified field is once again the most international and with almost ten drivers who can record the numbers to win the race, the most competitive field in Sweden.

David Vegter was the man to beat at Santa Pod. The Dutchman was the number one qualifier, recorded a string of low 5.8-second runs to improve to an impressive 5.76 seconds in the first round of eliminations. Only a red light in the quarter finals, due to his reaction to the flashing stage light of the driver in the other lane, could stop the Vegter Pro Mod Racing driver. Vegter will try to bounce back in his second home country and collect as many points as possible.

Bruno Bader, Stian Rusånes, Andres Arnover and Andreas Sjödin advanced to the semi-finals at Santa Pod and these four drivers are the top four in the title race at the moment. Swiss veteran Pro Mod driver Bader is leading the championship and once again proved that consistency and being quick at the moment when it’s needed, is the key to success.

Rusånes, from Norway, is only one point short of the leader and can surprise again. Arnover impressed in preseason testing, but suddenly had some problems at Santa Pod. In the quarter finals the Estonian driver was a bit back to form with 5.89 seconds, but still not the 5.7-second runs he recorded in the weeks before The Main Event with his turbo powered ’67 Mustang GT500. Arnover will be out to prove Santa Pod was only an incident. 

Sjödin is the number four in the championship, also to his own surprise after defeating Andy Robinson (red light) with a great 6.09 seconds.

Jere Rantaniemi is the number seven in the championship. With his turbo powered Camaro the Finn impressed in qualifying and is a force to be reckoned with this season. Peter Kunc travelled to England as well, made some good runs and is ready to attack at his home track.

But there are several very quick drivers from Sweden who will start their title hunt at Tierp Arena as they skipped the first round in England. Former European recordholder Andreas Arthursson, Mats Eriksson, Fredrik Fagerström, Roger Johansson and Åke Persson all proved that they can win races and will only need one or two runs to go to the top of the qualifying ladder.

Maybe not among the favourites, but drivers who can surprise and steal some points from the championship contenders are Olof Andersson, Jan Brännvall, Micke Johansson, Marcus Perman, Leif Karlsson, Jesper Sternberg, good old Patrik Wikström and the only driver from Denmark, Mike Reymond.

Particular attention will be paid to Michel Tooren, as the Pro Dutch Racing driver will debut his new car for this season. The number seven in last year’s title race bought the car that still has to be revealed at the end of last season, scheduled to be delivered in March. Due to things beyond his control, the car arrived in Rotterdam just before the start of The Main Event. The team worked around the clock to be ready in time for Tierp. Tooren will already be happy when he can make some straight test runs in qualifying and gain some data.

Pro Stock

Jimmy Ålund is the leader in Pro Stock. The 12-time European Pro Stock champion is definitely the man to beat with his blue Camaro. At Santa Pod the Summit driver was quickest in almost all runs, the number one qualifier (6.56 seconds) and quickest in the first round of eliminations (6.58 seconds) as well.

Robin Norén also advanced to the semi-finals in England and that was a great performance as the team from Sweden finished the Pontiac GXP just in time after the crash in Hockenheim last year and travelled to England without even one test run.

Richard Sundblom (Chevrolet Cobalt) from Finland is the number three in the title race and the only non-Swedish driver in Pro Stock. Stefan Ernryd had all sorts of problems in qualifying at Santa Pod. But the Dodge driver and runner-up in the 2023 FIA Championship solved the problems just in time to defeat reigning FIA European Pro Stock champion Michael Malmgren in the first round of eliminations.

Simon Ekengren will be out for revenge at Tierp. Last year’s number three in the championship was quick in testing at Santa Pod, but the Dodge driver was defeated in the first round by Sundblom.

Lasse Britsmar is the number seven in the championship, but still only 34 points behind Ålund. Christian Sagelv is the only driver who was not at Santa Pod and also the only competitor in Pro Stock with a Ford Mustang.

Qualifying for the SpeedEvents Internationals will start on Friday 14th June and will continue on Saturday 15th June. Eliminations for the FIA classes will start on the morning of Sunday 16th June.         

Text and photos: Remco Scheelings

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