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MSA British Drag Racing Championship

Championship Rounds Race Reports

Round 4: Santa Pod Raceway – European Finals -6th to 9th September

Sweden’s Michael Gullqvist made hard work of winning this race. Surprisingly for Europe’s most prolific Pro Modified winner, it was Gullqvist’s first event victory in the MSA British Drag Racing Championship.

During qualifying, Gullqvist struggled to gain a grip on the track. The quickest of his four shaking, swerving attempts netted 7.223sec, good for just 13th place on the list. With breakage preventing three other qualifiers from contesting eliminations, Gullqvist – the quickest Pro Mod driver in Europe at 5.911sec – found himself the second-slowest qualifier left in competition come Sunday morning.

Normal service seemed to have resumed with Gullqvist’s opening-round, 6.038sec/234.09mph defeat of countryman Fredrik Fagerström, whose own 6.306 was third-quickest of the round. Yet Gullqvist slowed again in his next two matches, clocking 6.669 against a redlighting Norbert Kuno and 6.506 to slip past MSA points leader Roger Moore’s 6.730 in the semi. With a 206mph terminal speed to Gullqvist’s 173, Moore was closing fast at the stripe.

Bruno spacer Roger spacer Graham

In the final, Gullqvist faced rising Dutch star David Vegter, who had qualified second with a career-best 6.114. Vegter had enjoyed an easy first two rounds, soloing in the absence of broken opponents, but had then faced, and beaten, a tough semi-final customer in Switzerland’s Bruno Bader, winner here of The Main Event (MSA Rnd.2) in June.

Vegter gave Gullqvist a good fight for the trophy but the Swedish European champion prevailed, 6.152 to Vegter’s losing 6.337.

Another Swede, Bert-Ove Olofsson, was the event’s performance star, clocking three six-zeroes in qualifying, each of which would have placed him on pole, and another in round one before breakage eliminated him.

Like Vegter, Essex’s Roger Moore benefited from a pair of no-shows in the first two rounds. Indeed, the flying Olofsson would have been Moore’s second-round opponent. Moore’s appearance in the semi-final, allied to Graham Ellis’s and Andy Frost’s season-ending breakages, has essentially guaranteed the Chelmsford racer his first MSA championship. Going into the VP Racing Fuels National Finals two weeks after this event, Moore holds a 103-point advantage over next-nearest challengers BA Racing (‘Bert’ Englefield & Andy Wright) with a maximum of 103 points left on the board.

Wayne spacer Andy Frost spacer Roger

Having installed an automatic transmission to replace his turbocharged Superbird’s clutch, 2011 champion Graham Ellis was busy trying to master the hopping-into-stage technique these setups seem to require. His one good pass in qualifying, 6.589/230.12, placed him seventh on the list and an improved 6.367 on a first-round solo in the absence of Andy Frost snapped his motor’s crankshaft into three pieces, hence his withdrawal from the National Finals. It’s a similar story for Frost, who wrecked the valvetrain when his turbo motor over-revved in search of a 6.4sec world record for the only street-legal Pro Mod on the planet.

BA Racing’s Andy Wright from Surrey was the highest UK qualifier, placing sixth with a career-best 6.562. Wright slipped back to a 7sec defeat following a start-line burndown with Yorkshire’s Wayne Nicholson, whose 6.939 winner was this season’s closest hint of the promising form he had shown last year.

Bruno Bader accounted for Nicholson in the second round, having already done so for Dorset’s Kevin Slyfield in the first. Unlucky Slyfield also had to take on the Swiss flyer at The Main Event in June.

Kent’s Steve Hall had been forced to withdraw before the race following a mix-up over minor repairs to his Corvette’s bodywork. New entrant Rick Garrett was thwarted by transmission problems from pursuing his licence on the pre-race test day.

David spacer Michael spacer Trophies

RESULTS:

Qualifiers:

Po. Driver Country Time Speed
1 Bert-Ove Olofsson SWE  6.027 226.76
2 David Vegter  NED 6.114 232.74
3 Bruno Bader  SUI  6.138  226.73
4 Fredrik Fagerström SWE 6.244 230.48
5 Norbert Kuno   DEU 6.301  225.50
6 Andy Wright   GBR  6.562 217.19 
7 Graham Ellis GBR  6.589 230.12
8 Marcus Hilt   SUI 6.700 213.79
9 Roger Moore  GBR  6.724 211.07
10 Andy Frost GBR 6.737 219.12
11 Wayne Nicholson GBR 7.089 176.44
12 Jean Dulamon FRA 7.165  196.33
13 Michael Gullqvist SWE 7.223 214.88
14 Kevin Slyfield  GBR 7.349 202.42
15 Marc Meihuizen NED 11.319 77.74 
Non-qualifiers:
  Mats Eriksson SWE    
  Rick Garrett  GBR    
  Steve Hall  GBR    

ELIMINATIONS:
Round 1:
Roger Moore 6.909sec, 205.18mph def. Marcus Hilt no show
Graham Ellis 6.367, 212.78 def. Andy Frost no show
Wayne Nicholson 6.939, 193.86 def. Andy Wright 7.342, 210.85
David Vegter 8.742, 103.98 def. Marc Meihuizen no show
Norbert Kuno 7.288, 137.38 def. Jean Dulamon 9.687, 104.54
Michael Gullqvist 6.038, 234.09 def. Fredrik Fagerström 6.306, 228.92
Bruno Bader 6.463, 221.16 def. Kevin Slyfield 7.457, 177.13
Bert-Ove Olofsson 6.067, 223.43 bye

Round 2:
Roger Moore 6.717, 208.95 def. Bert-Ove Olofsson no show
Michael Gullqvist 6.669, 207.21 def. Norbert Kuno 8.223, 139.08 DQ R/L
David Vegter 6.564, 222.53 def. Graham Ellis no show
Bruno Bader 6.184, 227.81 def. Wayne Nicholson 6.690, 198.91

Semi-final:
Michael Gullqvist 6.506, 173.06 def. Roger Moore 6.730, 206.24
David Vegter 6.174, 230.49 def. Bruno Bader 6.212, 225.53

Final:
Michael Gullqvist 6.152, 230.21 def. David Vegter 6.337, 227.02

Low Elapsed Time of the Event:  6.027sec. – Bert-Ove Olofsson
Top Speed of the Event:  234.09mph – Michael Gullqvist

Personal-best performances set during event:

Marcus Hilt 6.700 and 213.79
Roger Moore 211.07
Bert-Ove Olofsson 6.027
David Vegter 6.114
Andy Wright 6.562

The 2012 points table is on the Rounds & Points page.