FIA European Drag Racing seasons opens at Santa Pod this weekend

FIA European Drag Racing seasons opens at Santa Pod this weekend

After eight months of waiting, drag racing engines are set to roar again with thousands of horsepower unleashed as the traditional opener of the FIA European Drag Racing Championship, the Main Event, held at UK’s Santa Pod Raceway, is set to kick-start the five-round schedule this weekend

Top Fuel, the fastest class in drag racing, will likely have a new name celebrating at the end of the year as reigning champion, Antti Horto, will only take part in the two Swedish rounds held at Tierp Arena.

Yet, the title fight will be a tough contest as six competitors entered the season-opener in the top class, with half of them being females. Susanne Callin is one of the favourites after she finished the 2022 season on a high, with wins at the Hockenheimring and Santa Pod.

Strong competition should come from Ida Zetterström. In her rookie Top Fuel season last year, she impressed with resetting the European ET record to 3.782s (becoming the first driver in Europe to break into the 3.7s zone), and with her win at Tierp Arena in what was only her second Top Fuel outing.

The third female Top Fuel driver on the Main Event’s entry list is Jndia Erbacher. In 2022 the Swiss racer only took part in the NitrOlympX and immediately impressed. Owing to a 318.96mph ran, Erbacher is the European speed record holder.

With Duncan Micallef, there is a driver with a title-winning pedigree on the entry list. After claiming the 2017 Top Fuel championship, Micallef took a break from full-time racing. Now the President of the Malta Motorsport Federation will make history, as his FIA EDRC outing will mark the first time when a reigning head of an FIA Member Club takes part in an FIA-sanctioned drag racing event.

Sandro Bellio, who claimed his second consecutive FIA EDRC Top Methanol title last year, is a clear favourite for the Top Methanol glory. This year, the Belgian racer will run a new Chevy Monte Carlo bodyshell, with an eye on European records.

His main opposition should come from Linn Fløysvik. The young Norwegian driver finished in third position in what was his rookie season last year and enters 2023 prepared better than ever, with updates to his Ford Mustang and an extra engine in spare.

The two funny cars of Bellio and Fløysvik will face strong competition from the two dragsters. Top Methanol is the only FIA EDRC class where funny cars and dragsters compete against each other.

Jonny Lagg finished in the runner-up spot last year. The Swedish 2016 Top Methanol titleist will do another full season, surely eyeing another title.

Unlike Lagg, Silvio Strauch will go for his first full FIA EDRC campaign. The German ran a limited schedule in his first two seasons in the class but managed to impress despite tyre problems he suffered from last season.

Jan Ericsson, Pro Modified’s reigning champion, will have a go at his third consecutive title, driving his familiar orange Chevrolet Camaro, which proved to be fast and consistent over the last couple of seasons.

Yet, the competition will be tough as far more highly regarded competitors and proven winners have joined the title race this year. Multiple champion Michael Gullqvist as well as Mats Eriksson and Fredrik Fagerström are the three Swedish drivers who ran limited programmes last year, but who committed to full schedules this year.

The Dutch contingent of David Vegter (last year’s runner-up) as well as Michel Tooren (fourth last year) and Marck Harteveld, all hope to mount a title challenge, and so does Estonia’s Andres Arnover.

Pro Stock class’ season will start from FIA EDRC’s round two, the Sweden Internationals, held at Tierp Arena in mid-June, with reigning champions Jimmy Ålund set to begin his title defense on home soil in a class that is traditionally dominated by Swedish racers.

Qualifying for the FIA classes of the Main Event will start on Saturday and will continue on Sunday while Eliminations and Finals will take place on Monday.

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