Nitro Nationals
Nitro Nationals, a special race
For European drag racers, the first weekend of July is Nitro Nationals time. Alastaro Circuit hosts the second round of the FIA European Drag Racing Championship and, this year, the third round of the UEM Drag Bike Championship. For European teams Alastaro is always a special place. Accustomed to burning the midnight oil long after dark, teams think they have finished work early in the Alastaro daylight, only to find when they look at the clock that it’s long past bedtime.
The Alastaro dragstrip is not used weekly like Santa Pod. Traction improves after every qualifying session and the teams have to adjust to that situation. That’s one of the reasons the Nitro Nationals always offers intriguing racing and surprising results. Last year qualifying was shortened by rain on Friday morning and Saturday evening. However, the hard-working track crew and marshals still managed to allow all classes at least two qualifying runs.

As in NHRA competition, Top Fuel ran over 1000 feet at Alastaro. Andy Carter took the number one qualifying position with 4.127 seconds, a number the fans quickly had to get used to. Number two spot went to local hero Anita Mäkelä (4.167sec.). There was bad news for the Finnish fans in the semi-finals when Carter sent home Risto Poutiainen and Stig Neergaard was too strong for a troubled Mäkelä. In the final Carter showed why the Lucas driver was the reigning champion by beating Neergaard on a holeshot.

There was another holeshot win in the Top Methanol Funny Car final. After an upset win against number one qualifier Ulf Leanders in the semi finals, local hero Jarmo Kuutniemi had to face Leif Andreasson in the final. With a 5.931sec ET for Kuutniemi and 5.941sec for Andreasson, the Finn was the quicker man on the track but, owing to a much better reaction time, Andreasson took the win light.

Upsets abounded in Top Methanol Dragster. Krister Johansson surprised by qualifying number one. But the biggest surprise was Derek Flynn. After a first round win against Rob Turner, the Englishman beat Johansson to meet Timo Habermann in the final. Alastaro was Flynn’s track and, in the final, 5.477sec was enough to beat a better-reacting Habermann and take his first TMD win.

With a string of 6.7sec runs in Pro Stock, Jimmy Alund took the number one qualifying position and his second win of the season. Pro Modified was great again. A stunning 6.11sec from Mats Eriksson was more than enough to claim the number one qualifying position. But in the semi-finals the Swede had problems and Bruno Bader took the win light. On the other side of the elimination ladder Michael Gullqvist sidelined Andy Robinson and, because Bader could not make it in time for the final, the Swede took his first win of the season.

In Top Fuel Bike there was another solo run in the final. Number one qualifier Ian King had a ‘no show’ in the semi-finals and that secured René van den Berg a spot in the final. The Dutchman in his turn could not make it to the start line for the final so the win went to Rikard Gustafsson and his record-setting Funny Bike. Selkämaa is also currently in the points lead. The twist in the class can maybe come with Jaska Salakari who enters the UEM championship at Alastaro, not only Top Fuel Bike but Super Twin as well.

In Super Twin qualifying, Lorenz Stäuble and Per Bengtsson were the only two to run under the 7-seconds barrier and both advanced to the final, the Swiss beating Hans Olav Olstad in the semi-final and the Swede beating Job Heezen. In the final the pair repeated their 6sec form and Bengtsson, at 6.8sec, beat Stäuble’s 6.9sec to take the win. In Pro Stock Bike, Ulf Ögge was the man to beat. And in the end, he beat himself! After securing number one qualifying position, Ögge had to face Fredrik Fredlund in the final. But the Swede pulled a red light handing the win to Fredlund.

Text: Remco Scheelings / Robin Jackson
Photo: Remco Scheelings & Anders Magnusson

This article is part of the Speedgroup Club Europe Newsletter #3/2010

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