With travel to the UK for most European competitors out of the question (although some incredibly determined racers did actually make it), the Euro Finals was downgraded to a national event, albeit with a good turnout of fuel cars and bikes. For us this meant running in the Funnybike class as usual, and not in Top Fuel bike as we usually do at European rounds.
After the unsettled year we have had we chose to run the Thursday test day immediately prior to the event to make sure everything, including the rider, was working as it should. The first test run gave a promising 1.08 to 60′ with a little tyre shake and 2.88 to 330′, but the front wheel bobbled then washed out on landing. We decided to try lowering the wheelie bars a little and adjusting the handlebars for the next run.
After a break for some rain we went to the start but the bike would not shift gear – wires to the gearchange button had broken off.
Around 4pm we tested again with a PB 60′ of 1.079, but I extra shifted from 3rd back to first gear (a software protection we had to prevent this has got lost along the way), which doesn’t do any damage to the engine but does ruin any chance of a decent run. Also the small turbo oil drain line came off, giving me shiny legs and making quite a mess. No damage was done but we retired for the day to clean up and take stock.
Friday was the first qualifying day for the event, but after the first session burnout the engine refused to idle. Back in the pits we adjusted the idle screw and all seemed well. After a good amount of rain the second qualifying session happened at 5.45pm. Again the engine tried to die after the burnout. Simon and Santa Pod chief starter Ian Marshall pulled the bike back to the start line while I tried to keep the throttle partially open but the bike was pointing heavily to the right. Setting off with a brisk 1.09 to 60′ we just about missed the right wall with a shutoff 7.6 to qualify 5th, but a small fire occurred in the shutdown area when the cam cover breather hose and some wires got close to the hot exhaust. On top of that, a sprung bolt used in the clutch pressure plate had snapped off, leaving Mick with an overnight repair job!
By Saturday morning Mick had fixed the clutch, but by then Fredy had found a loose injector while cleaning. Inspection revealed that an injector pocket welded into the inlet manifold had broken off inside, which almost certainly was the cause of the idling problem. Mick went back home again to fix the manifold, and Simon collected it from him later. The team then worked til 11pm to rebuild the manifold and surrounding parts, with no chance of any further qualifying runs. Thanks to Kermit who came to watch, but ended up getting his hands dirty! We couldn’t have got it all done without you.
Sunday then, we met #3 qualifier Dave Peters in round 1 of eliminations. Dave and his team had faced their own challenges over the weekend, piecing together one good engine out of three overnight and almost beating his PB in the process. Our burnout and staging procedure went fine, but 0.5 seconds into the run we lost all boost and Dave took the win.
We’ll be looking into the loss of boost, and the fuel fumes which have been getting worse all year, before the next event at the end of September, the National Finals.
Congratulations to Mark Smith for the event win and his first six second run. Now you know what arm-stretching turbo power feels like! Nice dance moves too!
Commiserations to Tony Clark and others who suffered engine damage after some great performances.
Thanks to our hard working team who all pulled together to get us to the eliminations; Mick H, Simon, Dave, Mik B, Fredy and Sarah, and to the Santa Pod crew who let us do what we do and keep us as safe as possible.
Pics from Sarah White, Santa Pod, Pudgey’s Pics and Blackett Photography.