FIA / FIM European Finals
Santa Pod Raceway
Thu.6 – Sun.9 September 2018
The event is still five weeks away, but already anticipation is sparking for the return of drag racing’s heavy hitters to Santa Pod Raceway’s new concrete track at the FIA/FIM European Finals.
Before May’s opening championship round, the endless winter had prevented any meaningful early-season action. How would the untried surface stand up to its first 10,000-horsepower Top Fuel Dragster assault?
Encouragingly well, as it transpired. Finland’s Antti Horto clocked a fine 3.904-second elapsed time over the class’s 1,000-foot racing distance and Yorkshire’s Liam Jones scorched the speed trap at 312.20mph. Their two-wheeled counterparts in Top Fuel Bike, Fil Papafilippou and Rikard Gustafsson, each shook up the timers over the full quarter-mile. Greece’s Papafilippou scored a track-record 5.782sec elapsed time and Sweden’s Gustafsson delivered an astonishing pair of 250mph terminal speeds that rank as two of the four fastest ever recorded. Fellow competitors followed these achievements with a host of career-best marks that hint of more to come in September.
Quick times and fast speeds can sometimes mask the true object of drag racing’s exercise: to beat one’s opponents to the finish. 2018’s three FIA races to date have produced three different Top Fuel Dragster winners. Finland’s Anita Mäkelä leads the points in a quest for her third FIA crown. Her nemesis, reigning champion Duncan Micallef, started the year slowly but beat her last time out on Mäkelä’s home track. Defeating Mäkelä three times last year was a key factor in the Maltese racer’s championship success. Meanwhile, Yorkshireman Jones would dearly love to trade his five career pole positions for the maiden race victory that has so far eluded him. Where better to achieve that dream than at Santa Pod in front of his British fans?
It is a quirk of the FIA calendar that the last three championship races are compressed into a four-week span. The Hockenheim (Germany) and Tierp (Sweden) rounds take place on consecutive weekends in late August with the Finals following a fortnight later. Thus the current mid-season standings are scarce guide to the picture that will unfold as the teams roll into Santa Pod. So much can change.
In all, four FIA car classes and four FIM-Europe motorcycle classes will settle their differences for the year, with a full Sportsman programme in support.
A special Finals treat for the fans is Friday’s late-afternoon qualifying session which can produce some spectacular sights as dusk falls
The FIA/FIM European Finals take place at Santa Pod Raceway near Wellingborough (NN29 7XA) from Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th September. For further information, and to book tickets, please visit www.santapod.com or telephone 01234 782828. As always, children under 16 are admitted free, up to three per paying adult. Overnight camping is free too and there is open access to the paddock throughout the event.