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MSA British Drag Racing Championship

Championship Rounds Race Reports

Round 2: Santa Pod Raceway – Main Event - 27th to 30th March 2016

Round 2 WebTV Show

Report

Bruno Bader grows stronger with each passing year. His previous race wins, at FIA level, have been of the come-from-behind variety. This time he led from the front. Bader’s victory tally now stands at four in FIA competition, including three in Santa Pod’s combined FIA-MSA events, plus a single MSA-only triumph. This last win, at 2013’s National Finals, was the only one Bader had achieved from pole position – until now.

Bader qualified low – at 5.946sec, a new personal best – on his second qualifying pass and bettered that time in an epic final-round defeat of Michael Gullqvist, 5.939sec to Gullqvist’s losing 5.964. It was the second-ever all-5sec Pro Mod pairing on UK soil. Gullqvist’s finish-line speed, 245.07mph, was the event’s fastest, the only attainment over the weekend to have eluded Bader.

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Eliminations followed qualifying form with the four quickest qualifiers reaching the semi-finals and the top two contesting the final. Third qualifier was 2010 FIA Champion Johan Lindberg, making a welcome return to Pro Mod after an excursion into Top Methanol Funny Car which had netted him that eliminator’s 2014 FIA crown. Lindberg has taken over the wheel of Sweden’s charismatic Old 51 Chevy Business Coupe driven with distinction for many seasons by Niclas Andersson, now retired with a back injury. The Old 51’s last Santa Pod appearance came at 2007’s European Finals, since when the car with the old-style look has achieved some distinctly new-style performance figures, dipping into the 5’s at over 240mph. After a hesitant start, Lindberg steered it to another 5sec clocking (5.977) in the last qualifying session, wiping a fair few miles-per-hour off the terminal speed (231.67) with a very early parachute. A 238.89mph clocking in the second round of eliminations made the Old 51 the second-fastest car in the show, behind only Gullqvist’s blue Camaro.

While the quick four progressed comfortably through their opening elimination matches, three of the other four first-round contests produced winners from the bottom half of the field. Only seventh qualifier Thomas Stiefel made it to the second round from the top half. Ninth qualifier Philip ‘Bert’ Englefield was on a roll, clocking new ET and speed PBs in qualifying before bettering the ET mark in a first-round win over David Vegter. Englefield ran quicker and faster still in round two (fresh PBs: 6.282/226.92) but to no avail against the all-conquering Bader.

For reigning MSA British Drag Racing Champion Kevin Slyfield, a switch of livery from former carbon-fibre matte black to gleaming Venetian red with a shiny black roof seemed to smooth his Thunderbird’s passage through the air, if only incrementally. Slyfield entered the event with PBs of 6.349/223.30 and left with them seven thou’ quicker (6.342sec) and 0.35mph faster (223.65mph). Indeed, Slyfield clocked 223mph terminal speeds on four of his weekend’s six runs. Qualified 11th, Slyfield beat surprise package Michel Tooren in the first round and lost to Lindberg’s 5.992/238.89 in the second.

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Dutch entrant Tooren was a revelation. Spending only his second weekend in the driving seat of the Pro Dutch Barracuda vacated owing to the untimely death of Robert Joosten – indeed only his second weekend piloting a racecar of any kind – Tooren clocked fresh elapsed-time PBs on each of his qualifying passes, beginning with 13.002sec and ending at 6.163 just three runs later, with a 233.96mph terminal speed into the bargain. The effort placed him sixth on the qualifying list. Although his first-round figures slipped back to 6.569/204.27 and defeat against Slyfield, those in the know were mightily impressed by Tooren’s handling of the potent car in such emotional circumstances. A minute’s silence was observed before eliminations in honour of Robert Joosten.

The Netherlands’ other new arrival on the Pro Mod scene, Marck Harteveld, also finished qualifying with PBs (6.470/219.20, good for 12th) and went one round better than his countryman. The experienced Harteveld had brought his ’70 Plymouth Superbird up from the SuperPro ET ranks this season. Harteveld’s first-round opponent would be Andy Robinson, who looked to be in fighting form during qualifying with a stout 6.095sec, good for fifth, but whose Camaro simply froze on the line against the Dutchman, crawling eventually to a 13sec defeat. Harteveld set another PB in round two, but his 6.408 fell short against Mats Eriksson’s 6.019.

Both Dutch racers intend to contest the full MSA Championship this season, a welcome addition to the series.

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Another notable debutant was Kuwait’s Hussain al Shammari, the first contestant from the thriving Arabian Drag Racing League to race in Europe. Shammari has gone as quick as 6.05sec in the ADRL and has also raced over the eighth-mile in America’s PDRA series. Here, he took the wheel of Norbert Kuno’s second-string ’00 Dodge Avenger and, after a sticky start mired in double-digit ETs, crept into the field in 15th place at 6.977/212.91. Unfortunately that earned him a first-round tie with Gullqvist, but the Kuwaiti plans to run the full FIA European season and possibly to bring his six-flat nitrous Camaro with him for part of it, which sounds a juicy prospect indeed.

One nitrous star who won’t complete the full FIA season is Roger Johansson. The Swedish veteran, who won this race in 2005, was paired with Gullqvist in the opening qualifying session, but veered across the track in front of him at the finish line and struck the wall at an estimated 200mph. Johansson was airlifted to hospital with, reportedly, a broken leg and damaged ribs, a saving grace after onlookers had feared the incident might have been so much worse. Johansson was said to be already planning a replacement car from his hospital bed.

Points gained this weekend and at Easter’s rain-curtailed Festival Of Power, together with the ineligibility of non-EU racers, place BA Racing’s Philip Englefield at the head of the MSA British Drag Racing Championship, with Andy Robinson and Michael Gullqvist tied for second and Jean Dulamon and Kev Slyfield sharing fourth. Gullqvist will be off pursuing the FIA Championship trail when the MSA title chase resumes four weeks hence at the Summer Nationals, leaving the Brits and their French and Dutch opponents to battle for the glory.

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Qualifying    

Po. Driver Country Time Speed Best Speed
1 Bruno Bader     SUI   5.946   234.08    
2 Michael Gullqvist    SWE   5.974  244.21   
3 Johan Lindberg  SWE    5.977   231.67  
4 Mats Eriksson    SWE  6.079  233.75  237.77
5 Andy Robinson    GBR   6.095  230.16 232.75
6 Michel Tooren  NED   6.163  233.65   233.96
7 Thomas Stiefel     SUI    6.165    232.48   
8 David Vegter     NED    6.192   234.07  
9 Philip Englefield     GBR  6.319  225.76   
10 Norbert Kuno     DEU  6.450  222.52     
11 Kevin Slyfield    GBR  6.461  223.30   223.53
12 Marck Harteveld    NED  6.470   219.20   
13 Roger Moore  GBR 6.578  211.91  
14 Jean Dulamon    FRA 6.900   198.11    
15 Hussain al Shammari    KUW   6.977   212.91     
16 Chris Isaacs  GBR  7.011 190.58  218.97
  Alternates:        
  Marcus Hilt    SUI    7.353    129.78  148.57
  Mick Payne      GBR   7.659      156.29     
  Roland Bolleter SUI  7.770  119.96  
  Wayne Nicholson  GBR    8.361   118.54   183.58
  Withdrawn entry:        
  Rick Garrett  GBR      

ELIMINATIONS:
Round 1:
Philip Englefield 6.294sec, 221.15mph def. David Vegter 6.397, 225.86
Thomas Stiefel 6.716, 181.40 def. Norbert Kuno 9.731, 124.55
Kevin Slyfield 6.342, 223.65 def. Michel Tooren 6.569, 204.27
Marck Harteveld 6.978, 203.48 def. Andy Robinson 13.732, 88.04
Michael Gullqvist 6.021, 239.95 def. Hussain al Shammari 9.268, 93.32
Mats Eriksson 6.049, 235.29 def. Roger Moore 6.579, 210.92
Johan Lindberg 6.784, 155.75 def. ALT Marcus Hilt 7.397, 199.66
Bruno Bader 6.109, 218.04 def. Chris Isaacs 6.631, 225.89

Round 2:
Bruno Bader 6.020, 231.29 def. Philip Englefield 6.282, 226.92
Mats Eriksson 6.019, 237.78 def. Marck Harteveld 6.408, 217.92
Michael Gullqvist 7.094, 143.51 def. Thomas Stiefel no show
Johan Lindberg 5.992, 238.89 def. Kevin Slyfield 6.461, 223.31

Semi-Final:
Bruno Bader 6.196, 190.52 def. Mats Eriksson 10.751, 76.16 DQ R/L
Michael Gullqvist 5.997, 242.52 def. Johan Lindberg 9.014, 94.69

Final:
Bruno Bader 5.939, 235.28 def. Michael Gullqvist 5.964, 245.07

Low Elapsed Time of the Event:  5.939sec. – Bruno Bader (E4)
Top Speed of the Event:  245.07mph – Michael Gullqvist (E4)

Personal-best performances set during event:
Bruno Bader 5.939                 -
Philip Englefield 6.282       226.92
Marck Harteveld 6.408       219.20
Chris Isaacs 225.89
Hussain al Shammari 6.977       212.91
Kevin Slyfield 6.342       223.65
Michel Tooren 6.163       233.96

The 2016 points table is on the Rounds & Points page.