SANTA POD, ENGLAND - In just his third year of FIA Top Methanol Dragster competition, Norwegian Fisherman Fred Hanssen secured his first European Championship this past weekend at the Santa Pod European Finals in England.  Hanssen and his Islanders Black & White team locked up the title on VP’s M1 Methanol against his closest opponent, Dave Wilson when Wilson smoked the tires in round one.

Hanssen, of Norway, had battled Wilson all season long.  The opening main event was held in May, but inclement weather found conditions unsuitable for racing. Hanssen took out Wilson the next chance he had though, scoring his first pro win at the Sweden Internationals in June.  He then kept the roll going by taking another win over Wilson at the Nitro Nationals in Finland. 

Wilson was able to strike back last month at the NitrOlympx in Germany, when Hanssen had a clutch linkage bolt bend in the first round, leading to an early-exit, while Wilson advanced to another final.  Heading into the final event at Santa Pod, Wilson held a slim nine point advantage, meaning Hanssen would need to go one round more than Wilson or win the event to over take him.

Hanssen fired the first shot in his blown alcohol dragster with a 5.409 second ET at 264.08 mph in Friday’s first session, putting him in the top qualifying position, a spot he would not relinquish.  He backed that time up with a 5.402 second blast Saturday night that would stand for low ET of the event.  Meanwhile, the European record holder Wilson qualified with an off-pace 5.522 that placed him in fifth.  With qualifying points tabulated, that put Hanssen and Wilson in a dead tie going into the first round.

Wilson faced off with Hanssen’s teammate Paul Ingar Udtian as the first up for round one.  Wilson went up in smoke at the launch, handing the win to Udtian.  Hanssen faced Oliver Azzopardi, a rookie driver from Malta for the 2nd round one race.  Azzopardi had problems with his engine and was forced to shut off, while Hanssen clinched the championship with a 5.408 at 264.20 mph.

Hanssen then squared off against his teammate Udtian in the semifinal round.  Udtian went up in smoke while Hanssen scored the win with a impressive 5.52 at 259 mph.  In the finals, one of Hanssen’s parachutes prematurely deployed, allowing European Champion Timo Habermann the victory.

“I am very pleased to have reached the goal of a European champion,” said Hanssen.  “This is great for a fisherman from Afjord, but it has cost a lot of hard work.  Our crew has done such a great job this year…Also, without the support of our sponsors Brad Penn Oil – Tore Grannegen, Norwegian Distributor, Fosen Tools, VSP, Hansson Fishing A/S, VP Racing Fuels, Victory Valves and RS Bilpleie, this would not be possible.  It is very gratifying to be able to reward all of their hard work and support with this Championship.”