The FIA European Drag Racing Championship tour made its fourth stop of the season at the Hockenheimring in Germany for the 36th annual NitrOlympX from August 25-27. Round 220 teams from 16 different countries met to duke it out under the watchful eyes of 43,000 spectators, who filled the stadium-like venue during the course of the three days.
Shortly before the event, Top Fuel veteran driver Stig Neergaard from Denmark declared his retirement from his FIA Top Fuel career and ultimately the withdrawal from the last two FIA Championship events. He will concentrate on his business; however, Neergaard might compete at some selected events in the next year, but he’s not eager to run the full FIA tour anymore, he stated on his Facebook page. This, of course, reduced the total entries to just three cars competing for a four-car field.
After a total of four rounds of qualifying held on Friday and Saturday, Switzerland’s Jndia Erbacher was sitting on top with a 3.936 at 311 mph. Ida Zetterström and Susanne Callin both struggled to get down the track under full power.
While Erbacher had a bye run straight into the final, Ida Zetterström went around Susanne Callin by beating her with her quickest run of the weekend – a 3.962 at 254 MPH to Callin’s 4.778 at 163 MPH. The final between Ida and Jndia turned out to be a close one. Zetterström was off the line first and never looked back – beating Erbacher with a 3.925 at 269 MPH to Jndia Erbacher’s 3.936 at 312 MPH. Ida Zetterström not only took home the NitrOlmypX trophy but also extended her points lead in the championship to a comfortable 100 points.
Sandro Bellio inherited the top spot of the Top Alcohol cannonball field with his Monte Carlo bodied Funny Car and his quickest time of 5.525 at 258 MPH, followed by Johnny Oksa (5.590 at 257 MPH) and Tony Bryntesson rounded out the top three with his 5.419 at 249 mph.
Bellio squared off against German Jürgen Nagel and beat him with a 5.510 at 227 MPH to Nagel’s 5.790 at 245 MPH. In the second round, he had a bye run straight into the final, where he should’ve met Johnny Oksa. Oksa was supposed to race points leader Silvo Strauch in the first round, but Strauch’s burst panel popped, and the chute got thrown out during the burnout, so he wasn’t able to attempt the run. In the semifinals, Oksa beat Linn Fløysvik in a tight race, 5.58 E.T. at 257 MPH to 5.609 at 255 MPH. When it was time for the final run Sandro Bellio had some nerves when it came to leaving the starting line and had a red light; therefore, handing the win to Johnny Oksa. Due to his early dropout, Silvio Strauch lost his points lead in the championship and dropped to second. Linn Fløysvik is the new points leader going into the Santa Pod finals with a 16-point lead.
In Pro Mod, Andres Arnover from Estland continued his upward trend, qualifying his red turbocharged Mustang on the top of the 16-car Pro Mod field with a 5.863 at 250 MPH, only a tick in front of a strong-looking David Vegter, and his 5.866 at 244 MPH. Jan Ericsson qualified with a 5.906 at 245 MPH.
On race day, Jan Ericsson showed once more that he’s the man to beat. In the first round, he started off with a 5.914 at 245 MPH against a red-lighting Peter Wacker. In the second round, he raced Jean Dulamon, who made his quickest run of the weekend – a 6.137 at 226 MPH. However, it was no match to Ericsson’s 5.876 at 245 MPH. He improved on his quickest run of the weekend 5.820 at 247 MPH to beat David Vegter (5.876 at 244 MPH) in a tight race.
On the other side of the ladder, Roger Johansson, the only Nitrous car in the field, beat Walle Strobel in the first, Bruno Bader in the second round and Matts Eriksson, who didn’t show up in the semifinals. Johansson shook the tires and suffered from a misfiring engine in the final. Ericcson showed no weakness and posted another 5.8-second run to the boards, extending his already large points lead to 122 points.
FIA Pro Stock had 4 cars in the lineup. Robin Norén beat Simon Ekengren in the semifinals to advance to the final round against Michael Malmgren, who won because his opponent Stefan Enryd ran before the tree was activated. Malmgren was off the line first with a superb reaction time of 0.003, and a 7.998-second pass at 136 MPH got him the win as disaster struck in the other lane for Robin Norén. Past half-track, Norén’s car made a sudden move to the left, hitting the barrier hard, crossing the centerline and brushing the right side wall with the chutes already deployed. Thankfully, Norén was cleared by a medical check. His car suffered severe damage, which needs to be fixed within two weeks to be ready for the finals at Santa Pod. Stefan Ernryd remains the points leader going into the Finals.