The opening round of the 2016 European FIM Championships was blessed with dry weather over the four-day event. There was a big crowd on Sunday for the qualifying sessions. Two championship speed records were set at the meeting and few personal bests.
Top Fuel Bike.
Reigning European FIM Top Fuel Bike Champion Ian King dominanted the meeting at the Main Event recording five runs out of seven in the five second zone with a personal best et of 5.817 and setting a new FIM Championship speed record of 239.95mph. Rikard Gustafsson debut his new Top Fuel Bike after many years racing a Funny Bike. Gustafsson qualified third 6.476 behind Steve Woollatt 6.442. In fourth spot was the reigning ACU Top Fuel Bike Champion Rene Van Den Berg 6.682 with a p/b speed of 224.77mph. Funny Bike rider Eric Richard ran a personal best in the opening qualifying session 7.189 but at the expense of an engine. Stuart Crane and Dale Leeks both debut their new Funny Bikes. After qualifying with a 7.177-204.41mph Filippos Papafilippou reached the semi-finals, only to have a problem on the start line and that gave King a bye run to the final. Gustafsson ran a jaw dropping 6.042 in round one of the eliminations and in the semi-final against Woollatt both riders had problems, Gustafsson took the win light.
It was another bye run for King in the final when Gustafsson shut off on the start line. King stormed down the track to set a speed record 5.893 at 239.95mph.
Another rider in dominating form was the 2014 European FIM SuperTwins Champion Samu Kemppainen recording a personal best of 6.501 with a speed track record of 223.29mph. Reigning European FIM SuperTwins Champion Martijn De Haas had a few issues with the bike over the weekend, but still qualified in number two spot 6.832-205.13mph. Roman Sixta was in third spot 7.609-169mph. Chris Hannam debut his new V Twin Harley for the first time in the UK, qualifying with a 7.872. 2014 EDRS Pro Nordic Champion Hans Olav Olstad return to the FIM Championship, but had problems with valves and spark plugs.
Hannam reached the semi-finals after a best to date run of 7.386-177.81mph. He faced Kemppainen who powered down the track 6.794 to take the win, while Hannam had a troubled run. In the other semi De Haas beat Sixta 7.060 to 7.312.
Best race of the day saw Kemppainen and De Haas both had their front wheels off the ground and on their wheelie bars, with Kemppainen taking the win light 6.587-220mph to De Haas 6.798-210mph.
Pro Stock Bike.
A few of the riders were having traction problems with the tricky track. Gert-Jan Laseur was the number one qualifier 7.176-182.85mph just ahead of reigning ACU Pro Stock Bike Champion Alex Hope 7.224. Kenneth Holmberg was next 7.298 but dropped a valve and was out of the competition. Reigning European FIM Pro Stock Bike Champion Fredrik Fredlund damaged two gearboxes during qualifying 7.323. Martin Newbury (7.351) just edged Bertrand Maurice personal best of 7.359.
Former ACU Pro Stock Bike Champion Mark Smith came in as first alternate for Holmberg and beat Maurice in round one of the eliminations. Hope beat Len Paget and then knocked out Smith in the semis 7.250 to 7.697. The other side of the ladder Laseur beat Martin Bishop in the first round. Fredlund was back on form beating Newbury 7.214 to 7.479. There was drama in the other semi, which saw Fredlund hit the timing block near the finish line, no times or speeds came up on the timing boards of both lanes. Laseur took the win.
In the final Hope led from start to finish winning his first FIM event 7.304 to Laseur losing 7.341.
Super Street Bike.
Steve Venables recorded the quickest run outside the USA for a Super Street Bike 6.935 in the second qualifying session. He also set a new FIM Championship speed record during qualifying of 210.10mph. Rick Stubbins was Venables nearest challenger 7.104. Pete Field ran a personal best of 7.157 just ahead of Shawn Buttigieg 7.162, reigning European FIM Super Street Bike Cup Champion Garry Bowe 7.198, Daniel Lencses p/b of 7.211. There were personal bests for Mogens Lund 7.288, Thomas Granica 7.410 and newcomer Rudi Zorzi 7.411 riding Luca Carbonera bike. Jemma Venables went into a huge vertical wheelie in the third qualifying session, she was ok after being checked over at the medical centre.
There was a slight delay when some drizzle fell but that didn’t worry Venables was in dominating form come race day. The only rider to run 7.1secs in the first round of the eliminations and then 7.0sec for the rest of the rounds. At the semi-final stage Venables faced Bowe and it was Bowe who pulled a rare red light (-163) handing the win to Venables 7.096. In the other semi Stubbins beat Richard Hann who ran a personal best of 7.320 but came up just short of Stubbins 7.303. Venables almost ran another six-second pass 7.005 to win the event over Stubbins 7.149.
Report by Steven Moxley.