Winternats Friedrichshafen 2007
Well, the 3rd edition of the Winternationals is in the books and I hope everyone has made it home safely and without any problems.
The standart has really been raised a few notches by all and produced very tight fields and great racing in all categories and the pre-race favorites from Malta, France, Finland and Austria really had their hands full every round.
Besides the experienced guys returning from last year, we could welcome several newcomers from Switzerland and Germany, as well as Keith Grech from Malta, who is anything but a newcomer to our hobby.
Because of a holiday on Thursday, the expo was expanded to 4 days, and Osku and Fred used the extra day to test and fine-tune their cars. The 2 Maltese pros, Charles and Keith, joined them on Friday morning and watched 7 racers duke it out in a special all-VW bracket race.
This was a very international affair, with Thomas and Dominik representing Switzerland, Alex, Peter and Kescha Austria (or Russia, whichever you like), Osku Finland and finally Fred flying the French flag.
This was a round-robin format with the two racers with the best win-loss ratio meeting in the final. Alex and Dominik proved to be the best two on this day, Alex using his Gp20 Bug Zapper FC and Dominik a S16D powered Beetle.
Alex prevailed over Dominik and got a huge RC VW Beetle for his efforts, sponsored by Dominik´s Streetbeetles VW parts company.

Thanks to our sponsors, the raffle on Saturday again was a big hit among the participants, and some of the winners used their prizes to improve their cars on race day.

The main race started on Saturday morning, the Parma Stock cars making their qualifying runs first, followed by the Public Race bracket racers.
With the track needing a bit more glue and rubber, no sub 1-second runs were made, yet, but Kescha and Jürg came pretty close with their 1.01s.
There were no surprises here, Kescha, Jürg, Fred, Alex, and Dominik occupying the top 6 slots.

The Public Race qualifying is based on reaction times, Dominik putting the other racers under pressure with a geat .501 early on. Not surprisingly, Jürg, Osku and Silvano came close, but couldn´t surpass or match him, while Peter Kouba showed his improved skills with a great #3 and #5 qualifying time.
Kescha didn´t risk too much and was 7th and 8th with some rather conservative .520-ies, with everyone wandering how a 4-wheel drive double Gp20 powered 200g car with a short and tall Hook-body (from the Cars movie) can do in a bracket race.
Alex risked a bit too much and found himself anchoring the field after some close red lights.

Next on the menu were the S16D cars, a class becoming more and more popular every time.
The Maltese pair was expected to do well here, racing these cars for a championship at home, and didn´t disappoint with a #1 and #2 qualifyer from Charles and Keith.
The additional 25g added to the class since last year made the cars about 5/10 slower, and there seemed to be a clear gap between the Maltese and everyone else after qualifying, with only Fred staying close with a great #3 - 0.914 from his Roadster (his second car had some technical problems and qualified 14th).

In Gp12, Fred Barthelemy was back on top after last year´s disaster and paced the field with a superb 0.838, followed by Keith, Kescha´s new Opel GT and Alex´two cars.
11 of the 20 cars entered qualified in the 0.80-ies, no clear favorite to be seen anywhere in this field.

Gp20 was a bit more clear, Charles and Keith running away with some 0.70-ies, rookie Roger Lüber from Switzerland with an Ian Hill built Corvette 3rd and Fred, Kescha, Alex and Peter all between 0.820 and 0.840 right behind them.
Osku had only brought one Gp20 car (belonging to Finnish racer Sami Hamidulla) and paired that with a loaner from Fred, but ran into problems in qualifying and ended up at the back of the field, as did Charles with his second car.

Everyone was curious how the scale Top Fuel Dragster field would look like with several new entries from Switzerland but after the qualifying dust had settled it was obvious that the newbies still had a steep hill to climb and a lot to learn before they would be able to challenge the seasoned veterans of the class like Charles, Keith, Kescha and Alex.
It is not enough to have a good motor and chassis in this class, as the big tires require a really fine glueing technique to get the car down the track. Even a racer like Fred had to settle for 10th and 11th in a field where the top 5 cars all ran between 0.827 and 0.839.
Keith Grech was the only racer who managed to get both his car to run good enough for a top 5 qualifying result, Kescha, Alex and Charles obviously using older or less powerful motors for their #2 cars.

The Gp7/Open class made their qualifying runs on Sunday, right before the race, and fully lived up to the parity that was kind of expected by experts all along: 5 cars ran in the 0.40-ies, 6 more followed with 0.5-second runs and no one could feel safe against anyone.
Charles, Kescha and Fred were the QF leaders, followed by Peter, Patrick´s father Holli (with Kescha´s #3 car), Kescha and Alex.
It was interesting to see the different combinations side by side: DRS in a WRP chassis (Charles), Aceves/Pro Slot combo in a Slick7 (Kescha), Koford in a JDS (Fred), Aceves/Slick7/Camen in a Slick7 (Peter), Aceves/S7/Camen in a WRP (Peter, Holli), Aceves in a Slick7 (Kescha, Alex), WRP/Pro Slot in a WRP (Patrick), Koford/Pro Slot in a WRP (Alex), Cobalt C-can in a DRS (Keith) and finally a PS Top Gun in a WRP chassis (Osku).
Osku was of course the underdog in this field, and was plagued by a very stubborn pinion that refused to stay soldered, but should be a contender in the future with the new Gp7 he is working on.

Now on to the eliminations:
PR and PS were run on Saturday, and again the #1 qualifyer had to go home early as Dominik was defeated 0:2 by a very consistently running rookie Fabian Bont (Switzerland) who usually competes on the various road tracks in the area.
Jürg and Alex again met in the first round - Jürg got his revenge for last year in a tight match and won 2:1.
Fred had a tough time losing to two Swiss racers, first to Fabian and then to Thomas in round one.
Last year´s runner-up Patrick also was on his way home early after a narrow first round loss to Thomas and a second round loss to Kescha´s Hook, while Osku barely held off Hans Rzany in round one, only to be beaten by Jürg in both match-ups in the next round.
Kescha used some luck along with Alex´ red lights to continue to round 3, alongside Fabian, darkhorse pick Silvano and red hot Jürg.
The quarter-finals paired Fabian with Kescha´s 4-WD Hook, Silvano and Jürg, Thomas and Silvano, and Kescha´s Volvo with Jürg´s Comp Coupe/Slingshot dragster.
Fabian´s car ran right on it´s dial-in, but it´s driver couldn´t match Kescha´s reaction times which resulted in a 2:0 win for the Hook - nevertheless a great result for the (drag racing) rookie; Jürg´s 40 Ford was too tough for Silvano´s pickup, the Swiss driver making no mistakes here; Silvano then used his second chance and almost won the award for the first perfect light with a 0.501 while Thomas did the same but from the wrong side with a 0.499; Kescha and Jürg had the expected close race with Kescha finally prevailing 2:1 by 4/1000 in the deciding run.
So the semis were a Rhine Valley - only affair, Jürg, Silvano and finally Kescha with both of his cars still with the chance to win the race.
In the first semi-final, Kescha finally beat himself against Jürg when he had the Swiss covered with a 0.511 RT but went off the gas too early trying to avoid a break-out and let Jürg by at the stripe and then fouled by 6/1000.
In the other, Kescha was on a good run when the Volvo unexpectedly decided to turn left before the finish line, resulting in a bad crash with Silvano´s Chevelle and a 2-minute repair break for both drivers (although the Volvo looked OK, while the Chevy was in pieces). With the help of solder-master Alex, Silvano somehow managed to get his car back together and even beat Kescha (who had a horrible RT) to move into his very first final round.
Kescha was the only contender for 3rd place and skipped the run, so Jürg and Silvano could take center-stage, but still contributed to the outcome, as Silvano´s Chevy had obviously lost all its consistancy after the crash with Kescha´s Volvo and was no match for Jürg´s 1.500 bracket machine.
Congrats to both finalists and especially Jürg on a very deserved result.

Parma Stock was our first heads-up category and the second race resulted in a surprise first perfect light of the day for Hans Rzany from Switzerland in his race against Patrick - congrats from me on that!
Round 2 brought us one of the biggest upsets ever when low qualifyer Kescha fouled twice against Patrick. Osku lost to a much improved Dominik in an all-VW Beetle duel, Alex beat Jürg´s Fiat and Rolf´s well-running Parma Mustang, Fred´s Slingshot was sent on the trailer by its technical problems and Hans Rzany, Dominik barely got by Fabian, Kescha didn´t red light and won against Roger and Jürg finally ran the first 0.9 of the race (and his first, too) with a great 0.990 to beat Markus Benz.
In the quarters, Dominik wasted no time to join the 0.9-club with a fine 0,996 from his new (Kescha-built) Beetle, leaving Patrick no hope, Alex met himself and chose the Jr.Dragster for the next round, Rzany didn´t have enough power to keep Dominik from getting his second car into the semis, while Kescha surprisingly couldn´t keep up with Jürg´s newly found power and could only watch as the Swiss ran two more 0.9-ETs including a new personal best of 0.981 with his Parma Edge 36 Ford.
Alex then suddenly found another gear (or his bottle of NOS) and ran 0.980, 0.976 and 0.979 at over 44 mph (a first for this category) to stop Dominik´s Beetle. Jürg was a bit too conservative on the tree and lost on a holeshot twice to Dominik in an all Parma 36 Ford match-up, and then to Domi´s VW in the race for third on a foul and some traction problems.
Finally, Alex again slaughtered Dominik with a 0.984 and a 0.976 @ 44.39 mph to win his first-ever Winternationals title - well deserved after about 250 runner up and 3rd place finishes!
Also congrats to the new members of our 0.9s club - Osku (in pre-race testing), Dominik and Jürg.

Sunday´s first category was Super 16 and it looked like Charles, Keith and Fred had a big edge on everybody else. Jürg and Thomas were the only match-up of round 1, Jürg barely edging out his Swiss compatriot 2:1, only to lose to Charles´ Mustang a few minutes later.
Charles´ Corvette didn´t run as well but still beat Alex´ Dodge Daytona in a red-light festival, Jürg´s Anglia was no match for Kescha´s Beetle that suddenly had found 2/100s to close the gap to the top qualifyers, Alex and Fred had bye runs as did Kescha´s Comp Coupe while Patrick won a very close race with Osku and Keith stayed on course against Thomas.
Charles had a freebie in the quarter-finals running his two cars against each other, Kescha literally kicked out Alex´ very well running Impala lowrider (Kescha´s Beetle deslotted and crashed into the Impala in the shutdown resulting in some serious damage to the latter and retiring it´s body for good), Fred´s Roadster ran into some problems against Kescha´s Comp Coupe, and Keith lost on a couple of holeshots to Patrick´s much slower car and despite running low ET of the eliminations on both runs.
Semi-final 1 brought another mild upset as Charles fouled twice against Kescha who had a couple of 0.50x RTs. Kescha then did the same against Patrick to give the stock Pro Slot road S16D a shot at the title.
Charles easily got the 3rd place trophy by beating Kescha who deslotted on his first and had some more problems on his second run, but the Austro-Russian kept his cool in the finals to beat a game Patrick for the Super 16 title.

The parity in Gp12 was a welcome change from last year, everybody seemed to run 0.80s at will and Fred was back to his old self with new cars and new confidence.
Rd 1 featured 3 match-ups, with rookie Alex Koch from Germany putting up a fight against Patrick and Thomas having the misfortune of meeting Kescha and Charles whose #2 cars were still too quick (this time) for the Swiss road track turned drag racer.
Fred´s #1 qualifier slowed a bit but was still too good for Patrick, Osku improved his performance to beat Patrick´s other car, Alex ran a 0.843 against Peter and then matched Fred´s low ET 0.838 against Charles, Kescha chose his new Opel GT over the Ford, Charles was eliminated for good by Fred´s very much improved ETs and RTs, Osku defeated Peter´s great running Karmann with better RTs (a .401 and a .411) and Keith didn´t let Jürg surprise him despite the latter´s sudden resurgence and a new personal best of 0.886.
Fred prevailed over Osku in a very tight race on a better RT in the decider, Alex unfortunately had to retire one car by meeting the other, Fred again had great RTs and ETs to send Kescha´s Opel to Siberia (or wherever) and Keith dumped Osku out of the race on their way to the semi-finals.
Fred then finally found his match in his old nemesis Alex and (new nemesis?) Keith and had to settle for 3rd and 4th place - still way better then his performance in 2006!
In the final, Alex had the better car, but still lost with two fouls to give Keith Grech his first Winternationals title - again congrats to the top 3 finishers!

Top Fuel was run next, and the improvements from qualifying were huge.
Again we had 3 pairs in the first round, Fred never getting it going and losing to a suddenly improving (due to his newly won Ian Hill motor) Dominik and Jürg also struggling with both cars against fellow Swiss racers Roger and Thomas.
Thomas also joined the 0.8xx club here.
In round 2, LQ Keith barely squeezed by Dominik, who had a perfect 0.400 RT and then lost by 8/1000 in the deciding run. Charles had a lot less trouble with Patrick, as did Keith with Hans Rzany while Thomas couldn´t get a handle on the glue and lost to Alex and Roger fought the same problems against a well-running Kescha.
Patrick and Alex had another close race that the latter won on his slightly better ETs, Fred´s TF woes continued against Kescha´s #2 car and Charles easily beat Thomas to move on into the quarter-finals.
There, Charles´#2 dragster didn´t have the hp to keep pace with Keith, but Alex did against Keith´s other racer. Kescha also kept his title hopes alive with at least one car, beating Alex but losing to Charles, who had low ET of the round with a 0.812.
Alex and Keith had a very close red-light decision in their first run, Alex´0.398 losing to Keith´s 0.399, and Keith then winning a not so close race to continue to the final round.
Charles wasted a new track racord of 0.784 on a (very bad) double red light (0.328 to 0.335) against Kescha after already being 0:1 behind (again due to a foul) and allowed Kescha to race for the title against Keith.
After regaining his composure, Charles spanked Alex with two more 0.78-runs and then celebrated Keith´s win over a twice fouling Kescha - so another title for Keith, RU for Kescha and 3rd place for Charles.

On to the Gp20s:
Again a lot of improvement here, 0.80s from seemingly everybody in a field of 21 cars and lots of pressure on the favorites.
Round 1 action included Jürg Broder´s win over newcomer Marcel Quint from Germany, the unlikely pairings of Alex and Charles with their #2 cars (Alex won) and Osku and Patrick (Osku never got Fred´s spare car going anywhere and was probably glad to give it back to its owner) and finally Jürg over Patrick´s GTO.
Round 2 saw Charles run a 0.802 that sent Osku´s Grand Am back in the box, Rzany running mid 0.80s to dispatch Peter, Kescha´s Camaro FC running 0.820 against Jürg in a race between two Nostalgia FCs, Fred zapping Alex´ Bug Zapper, Roger ending Patrick´s day, Alex just barely beating Peter´s El Camino by 4/1000 on a holeshot, Fred´s FC being simply quicker then Kescha´s ´32 Ford FC and finally Keith´s new track record of 0.782 leaving Jürg in the dust (or is it glue?).
Charles then lost his first run against Rzany but recovered to a 2:1 win, Kescha ran two more 0.820s to beat Fred, Roger made it tough for Alex but finally was beaten 1:2 and Fred had no chance whatsoever against Keith´s sub-0.8 bracket racer.
Semis: Charles and Kescha were pretty evenly matched but Charles prevailed after a close 2:1 decision while Keith marched on to beat Alex.
It was upset time in the finals, though, as first Alex beat Kescha´s quicker Camaro courtesy of two holeshots (including a 0.401 RT) and then Keith gave Charles a chance with a terrible foul (0.324) and then beat himself with a comatose 0.622 light in the decider.
The result was a second win for Charles, Keith 2nd, Alex 3rd.

Gp7 had a full 16-car field, so no bye runs in round one and plenty of opportunities for upsets.
Osku´s Top Gun Probe still plagued his owner with pinion woes and was retired to its box after just one run, while Charles ran a nice 0.482; Fred beat Alex on a holeshot and a red light by his opponent; Holli struggled to figure out Kescha´s loaner car and lost to Keith´s also troubled FC; Peter started with a great 0,497 against Jürg´s low-power Altered only to foul his chances away in the next two runs; Fred was simply too much for Charles´#2 FC; Keith´s cobalt c-can ran a great 0.530 @ 75mph but was still too slow for Kescha´s Blue Max which ran a pair of 0.490s to advance; Alex hammered Peter Kouba with a 0.486, a (red-lighting) 0.463 and finally an all-conquering 0.454 @ a track-record 87.33mph; Patrick almost beat Kescha´s Streamliner in a very close encounter that went right to the wire.
Round 2: Charles and Fred had similar ETs but Charles prevailed on the tree; Keith´s car had all sorts of problems and lost to Jürg´s Altered; Fred´s good 0.50s and 0.51s were not good enough against Kescha´s 0.48s and 0.49s despite Big Daddy´s good RTs (and the closest race of the entire Winternats - a 0.001 decision); Alex combined 0.47 and 0.46 ETs with great RTs to beat Kescha´s slightly slowing Streamliner.
Semi 1: Jürg´s run finally came to an end against Charles, who improved to a 0.497 and a 0.462.
Semi 2: Kescha´s FC showed some signs of (probable) braid problems and slowed on the top end, but still had a chance to beat Alex, but Kescha had one red-light too many and lost.
Finals: Kescha had little trouble with Jürg´s Altered, Alex was too excited and fouled away a better ET in the first, and then was on time but not fast enough in the second run and thus repeated his results from 2005 and 2006.
Congrats to Charles on a great win and Alex (and also Peter and Fred) on their new personal bests and a huge thank you to all sponsors as well as the participants and their understanding and supportive families - hope to see you in 2008,