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MSA British Drag Racing Championship

Championship Rounds Race Reports

Round 2: Santa Pod Raceway – Main Event -22nd to 25th May 2015

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What a difference a year makes. At this rain-plagued event in 2014, Mats Eriksson got crossed-up on his first qualifying attempt, hit both track walls and caused substantial damage to the bodywork and the new chassis installed in his fabled old Green Goblin ’56 Ford Crown Victoria. This year he made his first visit to Santa Pod since that nightmare moment with the Goblin body still showing the patched-up bumps and bruises from that accident to go with the contrived ‘rat-look’ rust that seems steadily to be displacing the greenery of the paintwork. However, appearances can be deceptive: the car may have looked a mess, but it didn’t run like one.

Eriksson appeared the class of the field from the outset, even though Michael Gullqvist was quicker and late-entrant Tero Laukkanen faster. Eriksson was quickest qualifier after the opening session (6.108sec/233.74mph), then set fresh personal bests of 5.956/244.06 in session two. Gullqvist, outside the field after Saturday’s first two sessions, rebounded on Sunday to pip Eriksson for low qualifier with Santa Pod’s quickest-ever Pro Mod pass, 5.882 at 245.53.

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Finnish speed merchant Laukkanen and his turbocharged Mustang delivered Santa Pod’s second-ever 250mph Pro Mod pass – 250.42mph, a whisker short of his 250.99 shot at last September’s European Finals – to defeat Rick Garrett in the first elimination round. The Finn clocked stout 6.0’s in all three elimination rounds leading to the final, the last of which defeated Gullqvist, 6.043 to 6.087, in the semi-final match of the day.

Eriksson reached the same point with a 6.0 and a pair of 5.9’s. Laukkanen had presumably picked up some damage in that semi-final win but wasn’t letting on, hoping that Eriksson might spring a red light or cross the centre line. No such luck: while Laukkanen sat stationary at the start, Eriksson sprinted away to another, die-straight 5.9 to seal victory. Eriksson had fellow Pro Mod standout Adam Flamholc assisting him between flits across the Atlantic to run in America’s ADRL series. If this performance was an indication of things to come for the team, Eriksson is plainly back to his 2009 FIA European Championship form.

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On the home front, Kevin Slyfield maintained the lead he had established in the MSA British Drag Racing Championship with his Festival Of Power win at Easter. Slyfield shook off the last vestiges of his ‘wild Willys’ legacy with fresh personal bests from his sleek ’57 Ford Thunderbird of 6.403/221.14 to qualify 13th and set up a first-round match with fourth qualifier Norbert Kuno, also with a personal-best ET (6.093) to his credit. The German driver’s advantage was erased when both cars shook and swerved into a full-blown pedalfest which Slyfield won by the barest margin. Slyfield’s next opponent was Laukkanen, and any hopes Slyfield entertained of beating the flying Finnish speedster were dashed when the Dorset racer left before the lights. Nevertheless, Slyfield went home with his championship lead intact and, with the next two rounds of the series offering chiefly domestic competition, he has a fine chance of still holding it when the continentals show up again for the FIA European Finals in September.

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The event’s most heartening revelation was Jean Dulamon. The French racer seems now to have cured the ‘nitrous burp’ problems that had hampered him (so spectacularly) in recent years. The Camaro still spits flame, only now sideways from the exhausts at gearshifts rather than upwards from the hood scoop at the launch. Local attention has lately focused on the three-way battle for home nitrous supremacy between Rick Garrett, Roger Moore and Bobby Wallace. Dulamon was an afterthought, lagging adrift of their ever-increasing pace. Not any more: Dulamon has installed a big new engine (872ci/14.2ltr) for this season and is making it count. He leapfrogged the British trio with a new PB of 6.305sec to qualify an unforeseen 10th, then boosted his speed PB to 221.18mph in a sterling but fruitless first-round attempt to beat David Vegter. Bear in mind that Dulamon’s previous personal bests (6.605/219.00) were set in 2010 and 2011, and that he has got nowhere near them in the ensuing years, and his progress is very apparent. As Dulamon is contesting all this season’s MSA rounds, the home battle for nitrous supremacy has just turned international.

Garrett (6.347/217.10) and Moore (6.418/216.14) were also among the seven racers setting personal bests during the event, and Moore scored a notable first-round win over Europe’s nitrous supremo, Roger Johansson, who shook away a four-tenths qualifying advantage over the Essex racer to hurt any title hopes he might entertain in the FIA Championship.

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Bobby Wallace had to withdraw his entry from the event when parts failed to turn up in time from America. Robert Joosten had to withdraw when his entire new car failed to turn up from America, the result of a US dock strike which delayed shipping by five weeks. Switzerland’s Peter Wacker did manage to turn up with his nitrous Roofer’s Toy Chevy, a full 10 years after his last Santa Pod appearance and 11 years after winning this event in 2004. Wacker’s compatriot, Thomas Stiefel, planned to step up to Pro Mod from Competition Eliminator with his blown ’57 Chevy but an injector problem prevented him making a pass.

Qualifying    

Po. Driver Country Time Speed Best Speed
1 Michael Gullqvist  SWE    5.882  245.53    
2 Mats Eriksson  SWE  5.956   244.06    
3 Roger Johansson  SWE  6.000   231.21   
4 Norbert Kuno   DEU 6.093  231.39  
5 Tero Laukkanen   FIN   6.155  248.22   
6 Bruno Bader  SUI   6.182   222.51  
7 David Vegter     NED   6.233  230.49    
8 Marcus Hilt   SUI   6.258 224.75   
9 Andy Robinson   GBR  6.263  229.34   
10 Jean Dulamon   FRA    6.305  213.08  
11 Marco Maurischat    DEU   6.309     221.23    
12 Rick Garrett     GBR  6.347  217.10   
13 Kevin Slyfield   GBR  6.403   221.14   
14 Roger Moore   GBR 6.418    214.85     
15 Andy Wright  GBR 6.837    204.29 213.06
16 Chris Isaacs      GBR   7.006   214.00 216.93
Alternates:
17 Peter Wacker    SUI 7.174 192.13  193.85
18 Wayne Nicholson    GBR  7.543 185.89  
Present but broken:
  Thomas Stiefel SUI       

ELIMINATIONS:
Round 1:
Andy Robinson 6.395sec, 229.32mph def. Marcus Hilt 7.589, 135.34
David Vegter 6.155, 230.49 def. Jean Dulamon 6.548, 221.18
Bruno Bader 6.082, 229.04 def. Marco Maurischat 7.792, 121.73
Tero Laukkanen 6.057, 250.42 def. Rick Garrett 6.372, 214.00
Kevin Slyfield 7.085, 208.17 def. Norbert Kuno 7.116, 213.88
Roger Moore 6.451, 216.06 def. Roger Johansson 10.478, 75.43
Mats Eriksson 5.993, 237.77 def. Andy Wright 26.033, 25.80
Michael Gullqvist 5.904, 242.91 def. Chris Isaacs 7.742, 134.96

Round 2:
Michael Gullqvist 5.893, 241.44 def. Andy Robinson 10.167, 93.46 DQ RL
Tero Laukkanen 6.099, 239.83 def. Kevin Slyfield NT left before lights
Mats Eriksson 6.092, 236.54 def. David Vegter 6.157, 231.41
Bruno Bader 6.129, 226.78 def. Roger Moore 6.421, 216.14

Semi-Final:
Mats Eriksson 5.981, 239.02 def. Bruno Bader 6.605, 214.88
Tero Laukkanen 6.043, 236.27 def. Michael Gullqvist 6.087, 235.29

Final:
Mats Eriksson 5.994, 230.39 def. Tero Laukkanen NT did not launch

Low Elapsed Time of the Event:  5.882sec. – Michael Gullqvist (Q4)
Top Speed of the Event:  250.42mph – Tero Laukkanen (E1)

Personal-best performances set during event:

  ET MPH
Jean Dulamon 6.305 221.18
Mats Eriksson 5.956 244.06
Rick Garrett   6.347  217.10
Marcus Hilt 6.258  224.75
Norbert Kuno   6.093  
Roger Moore 6.418 216.14
Kevin Slyfield   6.403 221.14

The 2015 points table is on the Rounds & Points page.