Round 2 2018 Race Report
Round 2: Santa Pod Raceway – The Main Event - 25th to 28th May 2018
Michael Gullqvist: low qualifier, race winner, low elapsed time and top speed of the meet – in other words, business as usual.
Not necessarily so. The great pre-race imponderable had been the new, all-concrete track down which, thanks to the extended winter, none of these more potent cars had yet ventured. The track was built to deliver stout performances, but would it take time to bed in? Such concerns were allayed during the previous weekend’s Doorslammers event as the lone interloper from Sweden’s Top Doorslammer series, Mattias Wulcan and his no-holds-barred, ‘outlaw’ Camaro – recalibrated from its usual eighth-mile tune-up – shattered all previous European door-car standards with a 5.534sec/262.67mph demolition of the quarter-mile.
More to the point, some of the conventional Pro Mod runners (if Pro Mods can ever be called ‘conventional’) produced some tasty Doorslammers figures on the new concrete, notably David Vegter with two career-best ETs (5.932 and 5.883). For eventual Doorslammers winner Jimmy Ålund, it was a worthwhile fortnight at Santa Pod: £10,000 in the bank for Doorslammers victory and, a week later, homeward-bound with a mere 20-point deficit in the FIA championship after finishing runner-up to Gullqvist at The Main Event. Gullqvist was not on song at Doorslammers but any notions of vulnerability were promptly dispelled at The Main Event. The seven-time FIA champion qualified on pole with an ‘official’ track record 5.868sec, then took it steady (6.112) on a first-round solo before clocking three 5.9s to win the race, all four passes at over 240mph.
Easter’s washout meant that The Main Event would effectively kick off this year’s MSA British Championship, combined as ever with the start of the FIA European Championship. Nineteen Main Event entries were reduced to 16 when the Dutch duo, Marck Harteveld and Michel Tooren, both crashed during Doorslammers and Switzerland’s Roland Bolleter was a no-show. Come Monday morning’s first round of eliminations, Jean Dulamon, Peter Wacker and Jon Webster had all pulled out with qualifying session damage while Kevin Slyfield’s blown Thunderbird refused to start for his match against Norbert Kuno. It was a bitter disappointment for Slyfield and his Dorset team after setting fresh personal bests (6.100sec and 232.52mph) to qualify eighth.
Could a new era be unfolding for Wayne Nicholson? Yorkshire’s often troubled Lucky Devil team set PBs in Saturday’s first qualifying session (6.343/223.30) and a yet faster speed in Q2 (223.53), but importantly found a new consistency, with four passes in the 6.3/6.4sec zone, none slower than 219mph. Moreover, Nicholson outran Jan Ericsson in the first round (6.625 to 6.666) only to lose via a holeshot, brushing within inches of the centre line on the way. Local hero Bobby Wallace meanwhile slipped from the form which had carried him to second in last year’s MSA Championship, but was revealed to be running-in a brand new, bigger engine in the colourful Willys.
There were strong performances from overseas entrants, notably Denmark’s Kim Kristiansen, beginning his second season at the wheel of the Andy Robinson Race Cars-built Firebird formerly owned by Marc Meihuizen and setting a fresh pair of PBs on each of his first three qualifying passes, ending with 5.940/245.06. Kristiansen proved over-eager on the lights in his second-round match against David Vegter, who also achieved ‘official’ elapsed-time PBs (5.951, then 5.939) during qualifying in his own, Robinson-built Camaro, though still short of his ‘outlaw’ bests clocked during Doorslammers. New PBs also fell to Jan Ericsson’s Camaro (6.003/242.37), though this one was built by Tami Brander in Finland.
‘Fast Freddy’ Fagerström has acquired a new lease of life. The Pro Mod trucker produced form not seen for several seasons, coming close to his PBs with best figures of 6.051sec and 235.16mph. A rebuilt chassis lurks beneath the Chevy’s rat-look body while US Pro Mod racer Todd Tutterow contributed fuel system advice and Jürgen Leanders was present in the pit to offer guidance on the Leanders clutch. A replacement for a rear axle snout broken on Sunday was flown in overnight from Sweden following a Facebook appeal and allowed Freddy to beat Bruno Bader in Monday’s first round before losing a terrific match to Ålund, 6.093 to Ålund’s 5.915, in the second.
Bruno Bader enjoyed one of his less impressive weekends as did fellow Swiss first-round loser Marcus Hilt, though the blow for Hilt was likely softened by his £5,000 second prize for finishing runner-up in the Doorslammers race.
Along with the machines of Kristiansen, Slyfield, Vegter and Wacker, there was one other Andy Robinson Race Cars product in the show, the Camaro belonging to Robinson himself. The Anger Management team had hit on a winning combination on their last outing at September’s National Finals (three 5.9’s, two 6.0’s). Being racers, they naturally changed everything around over the winter, including lowering the rear of the car by two inches. Yet the changes did no harm, indeed yielding four 6.0’s and a best of 5.925 with a new speed PB (244.08mph) to qualify Robinson third. He would have needed all of that performance to combat Jan Ericsson’s 6.003 in the second round, but tyre shake intervened to scotch his progress.
Nevertheless, 2018 begins with six-time MSA champion Robinson leading the group that will challenge for the UK championship while seven-time FIA champion Gullqvist sits atop both sets of Pro Mod points before heading off to pursue the European series – in other words, business as usual.
ET MPH MPH
1. Michael Gullqvist SWE 5.868 244.20
2. Jimmy Ålund SWE 5.912 241.24 242.41
3. Andy Robinson GBR 5.925 244.08
4. David Vegter NED 5.939 240.28 241.10
5. Kim Kristiansen DEN 5.940 245.06
6. Jan Ericsson SWE 6.019 242.37
7. Fredrik Fagerström SWE 6.051 235.00
8. Kevin Slyfield GBR 6.100 231.38 232.52
9. Norbert Kuno DEU 6.147 234.07
10. Bruno Bader SUI 6.228 226.99
11. Wayne Nicholson GBR 6.343 223.30 223.53
12. Jean Dulamon FRA 6.607 218.14
13. Bobby Wallace GBR 7.058 196.31 198.00
14. Marcus Hilt SUI 8.115 177.83
15. Jon Webster GBR 8.370 165.47
16. Peter Wacker SUI 8.661 115.96
Roland Bolleter SUI
Marck Harteveld NED
Michel Tooren NED
Norbert Kuno 24.169sec, 29.37mph def. Kevin Slyfield DNS
Fredrik Fagerström 6.606, 231.68 def. Bruno Bader 7.136, 200.14
Jan Ericsson 6.666, 221.33 def. Wayne Nicholson 6.625, 207.93
Kim Kristiansen 6.020, 243.68 def. Jean Dulamon no show
David Vegter 6.137, 232.87 def. Bobby Wallace 8.078, 121.90
Andy Robinson 6.012, 239.84 def. Marcus Hilt 11.811, 56.74
Jimmy Ålund 12.203, 58.12 def. Jon Webster no show
Michael Gullqvist 6.112, 240.31 def. Peter Wacker no show
Jimmy Ålund 5.915, 242.53 def. Fredrik Fagerström 6.093, 235.16
Michael Gullqvist 5.914, 245.40 def. Norbert Kuno 6.761, 172.39
David Vegter 6.423, 190.59 def. Kim Kristiansen 14.033, 71.29 DQ R/L
Jan Ericsson 6.003, 237.77 def. Andy Robinson 7.111, 151.62
Jimmy Ålund 5.936, 241.22 def. Jan Ericsson 6.027, 236.52
Michael Gullqvist 5.925, 241.59 def. David Vegter 6.017, 238.71
Michael Gullqvist 5.904, 246.71 def. Jimmy Ålund 6.898, 147.66
Low Elapsed Time of the Event: 5.868sec. – Michael Gullqvist (Q2)
Top Speed of the Event: 246.71mph – Michael Gullqvist (E4-final)
Personal-best performances set during event:
Jan Ericsson 6.003 242.37
Kim Kristiansen 5.940 245.06
Wayne Nicholson 6.343 223.53
Andy Robinson - 244.08
Kevin Slyfield 6.100 232.52
David Vegter 5.939 -