Following the amazing run of success for the Gulf Oil Dragracing – Grand Prix Originals Top Fuel team in the FIM European Championship, hopes were high for continued success at this, their home track of Santa Pod Raceway, UK.
However, a number of untested changes had been made to the multiple championship winning machine over the winter months following the damage incurred when fuel system problems were encountered in the European Finals last year, and the Top Fuel class entry was as strong as it had been for many years.
The team opted to make a soft check out pass at the Pro test the day before competition and carded a fine 6.13 @ 236 mph that boded well for the race.
Despite King deep-staging the first qualifier saw him straight into number 1 qualifying position with a fine 6.01secs with a great 237.32 mph, a speed that was above the current record and would `only’ require another run within 1% over the weekend to set a new European top speed (TS) record.
However, the second qualifier was somewhat of a disappointment as it saw the team overpower the track and the rear slick spun up in smoke.
Sunday dawned with the promise of good weather and hopes were high for a new speed record for the team. And the next qualifier was indeed impressive, another new personal best of 5.83 seconds that was the second fastest time posted in the world by any rider this year, exceeding the existing European elapsed time (ET) record. The team were now on course for possibly two new European records! However a dropped cylinder at around the 1000ft mark meant a slower 232.52mph and so the top speed record would have to wait until another run.
Inclement track conditions meant the team would sit out the fourth qualifying session and prepare for the first round of eliminations in earnest.
Raceday elimination one of the Top Fuel Class was preceded by a touching startline tribute for the late Top Fuel Bike rider Brian Johnson and his wife Ann in the company of the motorcycle racers and Johnson family members.
With Bob Brooks unable to take his qualifying spot King had a bye run in elimination one. However, the new records would have to wait as the enormous power of his Puma engine machine and a slightly adverse track surface saw massive wheelspin and tyre shake that conspired to rip all of the teeth from his rear sprocket a few hundred feet out from the start. However, with the benefit of the bye run King took the win and proceeded through to the next round.
The Semi Final saw King paired against his good friend and `wheeliebar surfing’ star Filippos Papafilippou from Greece.
The smart money was on King and with a stunning 60ft time of 0.9901 seconds and another personal best it was looking good until the brutal power of the Gulf Oil machine stripped all the teeth off the rear sprocket once again and King slowed to cross the line behind `Fast Fil’.
So a weekend of so much promise with number one qualifying position, three new personal bests and the team exceeding both existing European time and speed records ended in relative disappointment. But the team remained philosophical with clearly much more to come from the Gulf Oil – Grand Prix Original machine in the future.
The team now travel to the world renowned Goodwood Festival of Speed following another prestigious invitation to `run up the hill’ by the Earl of March at his country estate in Sussex, UK.
Pictures courtesy of Ivan Sansom, Rose Hughes and Stefan Boman
The Gulf Oil – GPO Dragracing team uses and endorses exclusively Gulf Oil greases and lubricants in their history making machine. The team is extremely proud to be supported by many leaders in their chosen markets in their quest for a 9th European Championship:-
APE – The world’s most innovative manufacturer of aftermarket parts for race bikes
ACTION CAMERAS – Europe’s leading source for action sports cameras
BLACKCAT MOTORSPORTS – The leading V Rod Harley race team
COMETIC GASKETS – The Premier Manufacturer of racing gaskets
GATES – The world’s most trusted name in drive belts, hoses and hydraulics
GOODRIDGE – The most innovative and the best in fluid transfer systems
GRAND PRIX ORIGINALS – The brand for drive and lifestyle, past and present
GULF OIL INTERNATIONAL – The world’s most iconic brand in automotive fuels and lubricants
GRAPHITE ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING – A leader in 3D printed technologies and rapid prototyping
HOTROD HANGAR – Home of the world renowned custom artist Knud Tiroch
HYPERPRO – The leading producer of progressive suspension products for motor bikes
JE PISTONS – The world’s premier manufacturer of high performance forged pistons
JOHN AND DEA MORGAN RACING – The creators of the world’s most advanced New Age Funnybike
KIBBLEWHITE PRECISION MACHINING – The highest quality valve train components available
KING RACING – The most successful Top Fuel Bike team in European Dragracing
MICKEY THOMPSON – Simply the best drag race tyres in the world
MRE – Leaders in trackside support for drag race components and air shifting systems
MTC ENGINEERING – Manufacturer of clutches for the fastest motorcycles in the world
NITROSHUTTER – Europe’s leading dragracing photojournalists
NCTENGINEERING – Manufacturer of the world’s leading non-contact motorsport torque sensors
NGK SPARKPLUGS UK – The world’s number one spark plug manufacturer
PAR WILLEN – Master webmeister and proprietor of HarleyDrags.com
PORTABLE SHADE – The best custom branded collapsible canopies available
PRO ALLOY MOTORSPORT – The UK’s leading fabricator of alloy tanks, intercoolers and radiators
PUMA ENGINEERING – Manufacturer of the world’s most powerful motorcycle engines
RSG CUSTOMIZE – The UK’s most creative website designers and vinyl artists
SUPERTOUGH – Custom cases and covers for the Film, TV, Music and Motorsports Industries
SPIES HECKER – the world’s leading supplier of paint for car, commercial and industrial finishing.
TRYKA LED – the UK’s cutting edge LED lighting manufacturer.
VAN ES MOBILITY – The leading manufacturer of telematic products for management of moving objects
VANSON LEATHERS – The most iconic brand in motorsport leather goods
WEB CAMSHAFTS INC – Simply THE company for Top Fuel Bike camshafts
WORLDWIDE BEARINGS – The world’s leading supplier of ceramic bearings for racing
ZODIAC – Europe’s largest supplier of performance and aftermarket HD parts