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MSA British Drag Racing Championship

Championship Rounds Race Reports

Round 5:  Santa Pod Raceway – FIA European Finals - 4 to 7 September 2014

Round 5 WebTV Show

Round 5 Report

Let’s begin at the end. The final round promised a slam-bang, all-out, 5-second, 240mph tour-de-force of a drag race between two of the strongest runners in the show. Unfortunately, ‘slam-bang’ became the operative expression when Marc Meihuizen – who would surely be a champion already if luck ever came his way – shook, swerved, sideswiped the right-lane wall, bounced off into the left lane and then trickled back across his own finish line to an almost 13-second disqualification. Opponent Mattias Wulcan, already secure as the FIA European Pro Mod Champion, also suffered a fit of the shakes and had to move smartly aside to avoid Meihuizen’s incursion. His winning time was a shade over 10 seconds. It was spectacular, in its way, but not as we had expected.

Roger spacer Kev spacer Freddie

If the FIA title shootout took centre-stage – three Swedes and one Finn came with genuine shots at the crown – the domestic MSA Championship was not short on interest in its penultimate race. Andy Robinson’s red-letter day came on Saturday. In the fourth qualifying session, the Camaro at last showed its true potential as Robinson booted it beneath the 6-second barrier, clocking 5.968 at a personal-best speed of 239.05mph to qualify second – the first 5sec pass by a British driver. Unfortunately, Sunday became Robinson’s red-light day, but the cherry didn’t gleam until the semi-final against Meihuizen. In all, three of the semi-final cars were products of Andy Robinson Race Cars, Meihuizen’s and David Vegter’s along with Robinson’s own. Race-winner Wulcan’s Firebird was built in the USA.

The event’s biggest performance numbers came right at the start, in Friday morning’s opening qualifying session. Michael Gullqvist clocked the first 5.8sec ET on British soil – 5.893, low qualifier and Low ET of the Meet – and was nearly as quick on Friday afternoon – 5.899. For the record, his Saturday times were 6.047 and 5.957, and he could have done with that sort of performance on Sunday, when the force plainly deserted him.

Bobby spacer Bruno spacer Rick

What Gullqvist was doing with elapsed time, ‘Turbo’ Tero Laukkanen was doing with terminal speed. The Finnish driver’s very late entry was gladly received after his 250mph, race-winning heroics – with a first 5sec ET into the bargain – at Tierp two weeks earlier, and he began at Santa Pod as he had left off in Sweden, planting the first 250mph terminal on the scoreboard (250.99) to be seen in Britain. Then his mojo started to peter away, first into the 6’s, then into the 8’s, with a ‘mere’ 234mph being his next-best speed along with three sub-200mph terminals. David Vegter beat him comfortably in Sunday’s opening elimination match and went on to knock out Gullqvist in the second round.

The second round produced a pair of scorching matches. Mattias Wulcan clocked 5.968 to defeat Bruno Bader’s 6.028. Having spent seemingly the last few years hitting metronomic 6.0’s, Bader at last slipped into the 5’s, qualifying fourth at 5.987. His five other timeslips – three in qualifying, two in eliminations – all registered (you guessed it) 6.0sec ETs. Closer still was the round’s final match-up, Meihuizen defeating Roger Johansson 6.052 to 6.061.

Andy spacer Chris spacer Tero

Encouragement on the home front came from this year’s two new entries, Chris Isaacs and Bobby Wallace. Isaacs and his turbo Plymouth Duster have steadily chipped away at their personal-best times and speeds with each appearance, and qualified on the bump spot here with fresh PBs. Unfortunately, the Duster’s transmission played up and Isaacs was forced to miss eliminations.

Bobby Wallace and his family team from nearby Bromham – south-east across the fields from Santa Pod and probably within earshot – have not so much ‘chipped away’ as hammered straight in. Wallace obtained his Pro Mod licence in his nitrous Willys just one race earlier, qualifying at July’s Mopar Euro Nationals but missing eliminations with an oil system problem. In four qualifying sessions this weekend, the 21-year-old lopped a clear half-second off his personal-best ET and added almost 20mph to his terminal speed PB. Losing to Andy Robinson in the first round of eliminations was no disgrace.

So now there is a new challenger for the status of Britain’s quickest, fastest nitrous car. Roger Moore reclaimed that title this weekend from Rick Garrett. Both achieved new PBs, Moore’s 6.457 ET best just .002 quicker than Garrett’s, but Wallace, at 6.570/210.84, is closing on them fast.

Marc spacer Mattias spacer Trophies

All told, nine drivers set new personal bests during qualifying (see details below).

Santa Pod was graced with a rare visit from Sweden’s king of the burnout, ‘Fast Freddy’ Fagerström. The ancient Chevy truck, which seems to grow more ‘rat-look’ rust with each passing season (it is painted on, isn’t it?), has run as quick as 6.049, by some miracle of engineering, but has not matched that pace on its few appearances this year. Qualified 11th, Freddy failed to make his Sunday first-round appointment with Roger Johansson but came out late in the day with three, quick-turnaround test passes, a 6.23/221 the best. Fagerström professed that he loved to race at Santa Pod. Perhaps, then, we might see more of him in the future…

RESULTS:

Qualifiers:

Po. Driver Home Town / Country Time MPH Best MPH
1 Michael Gullqvist SWE  5.893 242.90  
2 Andy Robinson GBR   5.968 239.05    
3 Marc Meihuizen NED  5.983 242.88   
4 Bruno Bader SUI  5.987 230.24   
5 Mattias Wulcan  SWE   6.006  234.93 240.19
6 Roger Johansson   SWE 6.019  233.66   
7 Norbert Kuno   DEU   6.102 214.86 219.30
8 Tero Laukkanen FIN 6.134   250.99    
9 David Vegter   NED  6.168   231.68    
10 Marcus Hilt SUI   6.299 220.04 221.44
11 Fredrik Fagerström SWE   6.302  219.29    
12 Roger Moore  GBR  6.457 215.12   
13 Rick Garrett GBR 6.459  213.08    
14 Kevin Slyfield   GBR 6.567 214.87  
15 Bobby Wallace  GBR   6.570 210.84   
16 Chris Isaacs   GBR   6.677   221.44   
  Alternates:        
17 Andy Wright   GBR   7.977   199.87    
18 Andy Frost   GBR  8.264  132.88  186.64
19 Wayne Nicholson GBR   8.304 157.98   

ELIMINATIONS:
Round 1:
David Vegter 6.105sec, 234.04mph def. Tero Laukkanen 8.727, 122.20
Marcus Hilt 6.718, 192.95 def. Norbert Kuno 10.734, 83.34 DQ RL
Roger Johansson 6.467, 176.41 def. Andy Wright (ALT) 6.844, 209.12
Mattias Wulcan 6.215, 236.25 def. Roger Moore 8.672, 151.56
Marc Meihuizen 5.941, 243.71 def. Wayne Nicholson (ALT) broke
Bruno Bader 6.015, 230.22 def. Rick Garrett 6.535, 205.32
Andy Robinson 6.695, 221.23 def. Bobby Wallace 7.274, 160.74
Michael Gullqvist 10.983, 92.32 def. Chris Isaacs no show

Round 2:
David Vegter 7.202, 204.42 def. Michael Gullqvist 7.344, 196.27
Mattias Wulcan 5.968, 240.30 def. Bruno Bader 6.028, 233.65
Andy Robinson 6.332, 229.22 def. Marcus Hilt 6.480, 220.16
Marc Meihuizen 6.052, 241.17 def. Roger Johansson 6.061, 237.69

Semi-Final:
Mattias Wulcan 5.981, 240.30 def. David Vegter 7.667, 148.64
Marc Meihuizen 6.670, 233.74 def. Andy Robinson 6.834, 229.30 DQ RL

Final:
Mattias Wulcan 10.364, 84.58 def. Marc Meihuizen 12.936, 47.37 DQ hit wall, crossed CL

Low Elapsed Time of the Event:  5.893sec. – Michael Gullqvist (Q1)
Top Speed of the Event:  250.99mph – Tero Laukkanen (Q1)

Personal-best performances set during event:

Bruno Bader  5.987  -
Rick Garrett   6.459 213.09
Marcus Hilt 6.299 221.44
Chris Isaacs  6.677 221.44
Norbert Kuno   6.102  -
Roger Moore 6.457 215.12
Andy Robinson 5.968 239.05
Kevin Slyfield  - 214.87
Bobby Wallace  6.570 210.84

The 2014 points table is on the Rounds & Points page.