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MSA British Drag Racing Championship

Championship Rounds Race Reports

Round 1: Santa Pod Raceway - Auto Trader Easter Thunderball - 6/9 April 2007

A Pro Mod racer from The Netherlands stole the show at the MSA British Drag Racing Championship’s opening round.  Robert Joosten swept the honours in an uncontested final after early-season gremlins had hampered his opponents.

Joosten’s Pro Dutch 1999 C5 Corvette set Low E.T. and Top Speed of the Meet at 6.28sec./229.53mph in Saturday’s second qualifier and continued to run strong mid-6’s until Monday’s final, when he simply motored through on a solo.

Joosten’s only opponent in eliminations was Andy Robinson.  As low qualifier, Joosten received a bye run in round 1, then faced the winner of the Robinson-Englefield match-up in the semi.  A freak outcome in another round 1 match meant that no finalist emerged from the opposite side of the ladder, hence Joosten’s gentle, 12-second single to victory in the final.

Slyfield spacer Englefield spacer Robinson

Joosten, a commercial barge captain by profession who transports petroleum products along Europe’s inland waterways, emerged from this opening round with a healthy lead in the MSA Championship as the opposition faltered.

Andy Robinson, the probable pre-race favourite, had suffered tyre-shake and handling problems throughout the event.  His 1953 Studebaker qualified 3rd at 6.44/223.79 on its only properly representative pass of the meet.  Robinson took round 1 with a troubled 7.88 after his opponent, Philip Englefield, had broken.  In the semi against Joosten, Robinson shook to a 10-second loss.

Gordon Appleton suffered his own weekend of frustrations.  Having rebuilt his Wheelgame 1967 Camaro following an accident late last year, Appleton needed now to rebuild his tuning database.  After a pair of slow, shake-ridden passes on Saturday, the team decided to start again from scratch on Sunday and was rewarded with a promising 6.89, followed by a 6.39/219.62 to qualify 2nd.  The freak outcome in round 1 of eliminations was Appleton’s.  With opponent Ray White already broken, a faulty microchip in Appleton’s two-step system caused the Camaro to launch before the lights had started running, and Appleton was disqualified.  A bye run would have awaited him in the semi-final.

White spacer Joosten spacer Trophy

Mechanical woes also afflicted Philip ‘Bert’ Englefield, whose off-pace 7.63/128 qualified his 1938 Ford Coupe 4th.  However, Englefield believed his team had cured the problems going into eliminations and was planning to give his opponent, Robinson, a tough race, only to have the starter motor fail at the crucial moment.

Appleton and Englefield both showed their true colours in an exhibition match-up later in the day.  Englefield clocked 6.86/208.25 and Appleton improved to 6.33/221.82.  Rather than bemoan the fates which had given them such strong performances on a post-eliminations demo run, both racers left the track encouraged by their prospects for the next race.

Ray White was another frustrated racer who went home in similarly buoyant mood.  His team felt it had solved the problems which had seen it qualify 5th at just 7.90/135 and then break before eliminations.  White’s 1955 Ford Zephyr Mk. 1 is one of the more characterful vehicles in this class of characterful vehicles and the team believes that the knowledge gained this weekend will place it in good stead to fulfil its aim of achieving competitive 6’s at 200mph-plus this season.

Kevin Slyfield debuted a gleaming new, burgundy-red Willys with several 9-second licensing runs and hopes to have completed the process in time for eliminations at the next meet.

Round 2 of the MSA British Championship takes place at Santa Pod Raceway’s FIA Main Event  (25-28 May).  On this occasion, the MSA and FIA championship rounds will be combined and 20 or more cars from all over Europe are expected to enter.

Eliminations (based on 8-car field):

Round 1

Robert Joosten  bye run  (6.36/224.98)

Andy Robinson (7.88/126.76)  def.  Philip Englefield  (broke)

Gordon Appleton (disq.: left before lights)  -  Ray White (broke)

Semi Finals

Robert Joosten (6.37/224.77)  def.  Andy Robinson (10.57/80.21)

Other semi-final not contested.

Final

Robert Joosten  bye run  (12.76/100.84)

Points standings after Championship Round 1:

Po Driver R1
1st Robert Joosten 98
2nd Andy Robinson 56
3rd Gordon Appleton 37
4th Phillip Englefield 35
5th Ray White 34
- Kevin Slyfield 0

The 2007 Season Standings are on the Rounds & Points page.