The FIA European Drag Racing Championship reaches its climax with the European Finals at Santa Pod Raceway, the traditional grand finale of the season.
In three categories the championship still has to be decided. In Pro Modified, Michael Gullqvist and Jan Ericsson are separated by just four points and the title fight may last until the final run of the season. In Top Fuel, Anita Mäkelä is the favourite to retain her crown. In Top Methanol, Sandro Bellio might become the first Belgian driver to win a European title in drag racing. In Pro Stock, Jimmy Ålund claimed the title in the penultimate round at Tierp Arena, but the fight for the second is still open.
With four wins out of five races and three female drivers in the top four of the championship, girl power rules in the fastest category in the championship. Reigning champion Anita Mäkelä has won three races this season and is leading the title race. In her first full season, Maja Udtian turned out to be the revelation, making it to the final four times and claiming her first victory at Tierp Arena.
With 3.816s run recorded in Sweden, Udtian is also the new European record holder. With a 61-point advantage, Mäkelä is the clear favourite to claim her second consecutive crown. To remain in contention, Udtian must score more points than Mäkelä in qualifying.
The battle of the weekend
In Pro Modified, the title fight can go down to the wire. Michael Gullqvist won the opening round at Santa Pod, but Jan Ericsson responded with a win at Tierp. With a new personal best and a fastest time in qualifying at Round 5, Ericsson seemed to consolidate his leading position but a mechanical failure in the quarter-finals hit the Swede and Gullqvist took maximum advantage by claiming the win. As a result, Gullqvist enters the grand finale with a four-point advantage over Ericsson.
After a difficult start to his season, Jimmy Ålund bounced back with a win at Hockenheim. The reigning champion seemed to be back in the title race, but was eliminated in the first round at Tierp and currently sits third in the standings, 60 points down on the leader.
First FIA drag racing title for Belgium?
What seemed to become a season-long battle between Jonny Lagg and Sandro Bellio, turned in favour of the Belgian driver in the last three rounds. With a win in Kauhava, a semi-final finish in Hockenheim and his third win of the season in Tierp, Bellio has a 69-point advantage over Lagg and has a great chance of becoming the first Belgian driver to win an EDRC title.
Title number eleven for Ålund
Pro Stock is the only category where the title has been decided. With a runner-up finish at Tierp, Ålund claimed his eleventh EDRC Pro Stock title, having started the season with two wins, followed by a semi-final finish at Kauhava and another win at Hockenheim.
It looked like Michael Malmgren could keep up with Ålund, as he claimed the top qualifying position several times and finished runner-up in the first two races. However, particularly at Hockenheim and Tierp, he lost out to Ålund, who claimed the title at the penultimate race weekend of the season.
As a result, Malmgren’s second position is under threat from Robin Norén, who finished runner-up at Hockenheim and claimed a win at Tierp and is just ten points behind.
Qualifying for the European Finals will start on Friday September 6th and will continue on Saturday. Eliminations will follow on Sunday morning.