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MSA British Drag Racing Championship

Championship Rounds Race Reports

Round 5:  Santa Pod Raceway – FIA European Finals - 8th to 11th September 2016

Round 5 WebTV Show

Round 5 Report

Occasionally, an individual elimination match will acquire profound significance. One such was this event’s second-round encounter between Michael Gullqvist and Michel Tooren. A win for the Dutch rookie Tooren would not only have handed the FIA European Championship to Bruno Bader, already semi-final assured, but would also have reshaped the top of the MSA British Championship table heading into the National Finals decider two weeks hence.

The actual outcome – victory for Gullqvist, 5.899sec to Tooren’s faltering 9.808 – seemed fair enough. After all, Gullqvist had almost as many FIA championships to his name (five) as Tooren had competitive elimination matches (nine) in his career to date. Now Gullqvist wears six FIA crowns.

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Coming into this race, only eight FIA points had separated Gullqvist from second-placed Bader, with Mats Eriksson just another round adrift and Johan Lindberg within long-shot sight. Luck had certainly aided Gullqvist at earlier events, notably at Alastaro, where rain had curtailed racing immediately after his shocking first-round, red-light exit and prevented rivals stealing a march, yet it played no part here at the Finals. Gullqvist is reputed to tinker with his settings in the early qualifying sessions before delivering his best shot at the last. On this occasion, heeding a weather forecast for a Saturday washout which proved accurate, he fired off his bankers at once, leading both Friday sessions and setting low qualifier in the second at 5.917sec. When sunshine returned on Sunday, he beat Marcus Hilt and Tooren to reach the semi-final where his defeat of Bader sealed the title, and signed off with a Low ET/Top Speed of the Meet victory over Mats Eriksson in the final to sweep the board.

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Bader slipped fractionally short of the 5.9sec form which won him The Main Event in May, reserving his slowest ET of the weekend, 6.164, for the crucial semi-final match with Gullqvist. Bader’s first-round opponent, David Vegter, demonstrated the pitfalls of qualifying in the lower half of the field. The newest addition to the 5-second club, at Tierp a fortnight earlier, Vegter could only hit 6.326sec to leave him 13th in the field. As eliminations began, his 6.091 was the sixth-quickest ET of the opening round and would seem an unlikely loser at that stage of the competition, but Bader’s 6.027 in the other lane pipped him at the finish. Bader’s next opponent, Andy Robinson, had broken while winning his first-round match and had to withdraw, hence Bader’s assured presence in the semi. Bader’s exit at that point allowed the other finalist, Mats Eriksson, to overtake the Swiss racer and secure second place in the FIA points. Johan Lindberg, sadly a no-show against Eriksson in the other semi-final, held on to fourth place with Vegter finishing fifth.

In the MSA Championship, Robinson’s damage-sustaining first-round win and Tooren’s second-round defeat could prove to have been critical moments when the title’s destiny comes to be settled at the National Finals. The upshot leaves Robinson 35 points clear of second-placed ‘Bert’ Englefield, having begun this European Finals weekend just 13 points ahead. Tooren met and defeated Englefield in the first round, clocking further new PBs (6.005/240.17) that reaffirm what a handful he could be when the deciding shootout takes place. Tooren now lags behind Englefield by just 16 points – less than a single round of racing. Although Robinson’s lead was enhanced, his engine damage was severe and the team has had to cast around for spare parts in an effort to rebuild and make the last race. The MSA title chase promises an intriguing conclusion.

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Germany’s Marco Maurischat had planned to pursue the full MSA Championship series but business pressure at home prevented it. Maurischat made his first Santa Pod appearance of the year here, qualifying 12th with a rusty 6.316 and losing to Robinson in the opener, and will stay over for the National Finals. He is one of those certainly capable of inflicting damage there on the title contenders; Kev Slyfield and Roger Moore also spring to mind.

This event’s bump spot was a healthy 6.779 by Marcus Hilt. Surprisingly, it’s only the fourth-quickest 16-car mark at Santa Pod, trailing the late Robert Joosten’s 6.505 at the European Finals in 2010, Chris Isaacs’ 6.677 at 2014’s European Finals and Graham Ellis’s 6.718 at 2008’s Main Event. There were two non-qualifiers: Wayne Nicholson, nevertheless still pleased to be back with renewed consistency in the 6sec/200mph zone; and Mick Payne, frustrated by minor glitches on Friday and rain on Saturday from completing any runs. Hussain al Shammari was due to drive Norbert Kuno’s second car but was apparently prevented by visa problems from entering the country.

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Qualifying

Po. Driver Country Time Speed Best Speed
1 Michael Gullqvist SWE 5.917  242.87   
2 Johan Lindberg SWE 6.004 238.58  
3 Mats Eriksson  SWE 6.057 236.10  
4 Bruno Bader  SUI 6.063 231.37   
5 Andy Robinson  GBR 6.133 229.34 231.27
6 Marck Harteveld NED 6.181 226.67  
7 Thomas Stiefel SUI 6.189 229.06 229.31
8 Michel Tooren NED 6.197 232.87   
9 Philip Englefield  GBR 6.280 224.64  
10 Norbert Kuno DEU 6.300 225.89  
11 Kevin Slyfield   GBR 6.313 221.42  
12 Marco Maurischat  DEU 6.316 226.79  
13 David Vegter   NED 6.326 228.17 228.91
14 Jean Dulamon FRA 6.388 221.45  
15 Roger Moore  GBR 6.446 214.08   
16 Marcus Hilt  SUI  6.779 170.43 210.10
17 Alternates:        
18 Wayne Nicholson GBR  6.821 207.22  
19 Not qualified:        
20 Mick Payne  GBR No Time    
21 Withdrawn entry:        
22 Hussain al Shammari KUW      

ELIMINATIONS:

Round 1:
Michel Tooren 6.005sec, 240.17mph def. Philip Englefield 6.289, 226.63
Norbert Kuno 6.303, 227.02 def. Thomas Stiefel 9.093, 129.14
Kevin Slyfield 6.338, 221.23 def. Marck Harteveld 29.237, 21.36
Andy Robinson 6.250, 225.78 def. Marco Maurischat 7.013, 212.90
Bruno Bader 6.027, 232.84 def. David Vegter 6.091, 233.76
Mats Eriksson 6.035, 236.53 def. Jean Dulamon 6.930, 198.89
Johan Lindberg 6.017, 238.56 def. Roger Moore 17.348, 43.64
Michael Gullqvist 6.051, 242.88 def. Marcus Hilt 6.495, 223.37 DQ R/L

Round 2:
Michael Gullqvist 5.899, 239.83 def. Michel Tooren 9.808, 86.20
Bruno Bader 6.025, 230.20 def. Andy Robinson no show
Johan Lindberg 6.083, 225.52 def. Norbert Kuno 10.429, 110.15
Mats Eriksson 6.047, 236.56 def. Kevin Slyfield 6.314, 214.82

Semi-Final:
Michael Gullqvist 5.902, 243.76 def. Bruno Bader 6.164, 232.73
Mats Eriksson 6.024, 235.28 def. Johan Lindberg no show

Final:
Michael Gullqvist 5.889, 243.83 def. Mats Eriksson 6.113, 234.05

Low Elapsed Time of the Event:  5.889sec. – Michael Gullqvist (E4)
Top Speed of the Event:  243.83mph – Michael Gullqvist (E4)

Personal-best performances set during event:

Kevin Slyfield 6.313
Michel Tooren 6.005, 240.17

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