ANDRA Western Nationals Round-Up!
The stars of ANDRA invaded Australia’s premium far west Perth Motorplex facility which played host to a “double-header” event March 1-2nd. The 43rd running of the Westernationals featured season rounds 3 & 4 in Top Fuel and the 2nd and 3rd goes of the year for the Über-popular Top Doorslammer category….
Saturday Elimination Highlights – Top Fuel came down to defending Australian Top Fuel champion Darren Morgan on his season debut versus 2014 points leader Phil Lamattina and it was LTFR who came out on top at the 43rd Westernationals to take Round 3 of the ANDRA Drag Racing Series.
It was candles all the way in the Top Fuel A Final with side by side fours as Lamattina recorded a winning ET of 4.613 at 327.27 mph (526.68 kmh) from Morgan’s 4.860 at 301.00 mph (484.40 kmh) to win for the fourth time in a row at Perth Motorplex.
LTFR owned the Kwinana venue all night recording 4.673 to top qualifying before doing it again in eliminations with 4.670 despite popping a blower belt toward the end of the run to defeat Martin Stamatis (5.582).
DMR were testing new components but the team was fast all night qualifying second with 4.893 and running a 4.852 in eliminations.
Lamattina said he was happy with the how the car was running and felt relaxed about the set up based on past experiences at this track.
“The car was coming around, the track was coming around and in the final we had Darren (Morgan) and we thought if we ran another low .60 we’d be all good and what did we do? We ran a 4.61 at 327 mph,” he said.
Lamattina is confident the team will find its groove yet again tomorrow as they remain a pillar of consistency in the west.
“Tomorrow is another day. Just after six o’clock we’ll see what we can do and see if we can get the car running consistent, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. We’ll build from there and hopefully put the Fuchs Top Fuel Dragster in the winner’s circle again.”
Tonight’s B Final pitted Damien Harris against quickest runner up Martin Stamatis. Harris had the quick RT but went up in smoke at the quarter track leaving Stamatis to take a spluttering win on a 5.290.
Earlier in the night Grant O’Rourke set the pace early in Top Doorslammer with a 5.978 to top the field in qualifying. He was joined by Andrew Sutton in the fives with 5.996 while John Zappia found himself in 19th and facing a thrash after tagging the wall.
Zappia recovered to put down a 5.957 in eliminations before the parochial West Aussie crowd rose to their feet to applaud Zap’s pulsating 5.797 from Grant O’Rourke’s 7.533 in the B Final.
Peter Kapiris qualified in eighth spot but put the hammer down in eliminations recording an ET of 5.852 and finding himself in the Top Doorslammer A Final against Mark Belleri who qualified seventh and defeated an out of shape Gary Phillips on a 5.952 from 9.705 in eliminations.
Belleri had the quicker RT in the A Final but the New South Welshman popped the blower sending flames skyward leaving Kapiris to win a pedal fest and mosey across the line on a 7.933 pass.
Kapiris said he was thrown by the close pre-stage and staging of Mark Belleri resulting in an erratic RPM on take-off.
“We had a good semi-final,” he said. “The final wasn’t real good, that was partly my fault. Mark pre-staged and staged in one hit and that threw me. The RPM was all over the place which is why I went up in smoke.”
Sizzling on Sunday! — Darren Morgan followed up his debut on Saturday as a runner up to Phil Lamattina with a win on Sunday night which shook up the ANDRA Drag Racing Series Top Fuel standings.
DMR did what they always do, get quicker with each pass running 4.758 in qualifying, 4.712 during eliminations and 4.695 in the A Final from Allan Dosbon’s 4.717.
Morgan said the car has new clutch disconnects, blowers and injector but the team is very happy with the set up.
“We’re really happy with the changes (to the car), it’s perfect,” he said. “Everything is just mint, it goes faster and faster every time we tell it to.”
“The next time we have a good track we’ll run low 60s or high 50s.”
Lamattina went quickest again in qualifying on a pulsating 4.693 pass from Damien Harris’ 4.803 during qualifying while Allan Dobson went side by side with Morgan posting a 4.748. Martin Stamatis also went into the fours despite a pop and haze at 1000ft on a 4.868 against Mark Sheehan stepping out just shy of 1000ft.
During eliminations, a red light for the first time since 2012 ended Lamattina’s dream run out west meaning Dobson would go quickest and reach the A Final against DMR on a 4.687 from Stamatis (5.091). Mark Sheehan reached the B Final thanks to an ET of 4.879. He would take the honours for third position with a run of 4.695.
Daniel Gregorini posted consecutive PBs in Top Doorslammer surging first to a 5.921 in eliminations as Victor Bray shut down early in the opposite lane, while Gary Phillips posted the second quickest time of the round to make the A Final on a 5.928.
Unfortunately Phillips would not make the start due to a damaged main rear bearing on the previous pass leaving Gregorini to take a solo 5.914 in his first ever final and lift his first ever ANDRA Christmas tree of any colour, never mind gold.
Gregorini said he had clutch issues in Round 2 on Saturday meaning the team had to make changes and revert to old data in Round 3 on Sunday.
“I did a short shifting pass on the 6.08 but then did 5.92 and 5.91 to back it up. That last pass I had to short shift again as it got a bit skatey out there.”
“I’ve got posters from when Zap first started when I was seven years old and I’ve been following him since. That was the dream and I finally got here and did it, it’s awesome.”
Earlier Gregorini’s childhood hero John Zappia was back in a big way qualifying first with a 5.863. Andrew Sutton slotted into second running 5.868 from Gary Phillips in third with 5.923. From there it was a string of sixes led by Marty Dack (6.004) and Pat Carbone (6.008) in fourth and fifth.
Surprisingly Zappia’s night would end in the elimination round on a holeshot as Peter Kapiris got the win on a 6.139 thanks to an RT of .084 from Zap’s 6.036 and .196.
Ben Bray overcame his recent teething problems with a new auto and converter to reach the B Final on a 6.045 pass against Bishop (6.337). Pino Priolo’s 6.069 defeated the engine popping Andrew Sutton to join him.
Ben Bray’s difficulties resurfaced however laying fluid and shutting down after the burnout leaving Priolo to take the B Final solo in a pedalling 6.459.
Top Fuel now moves onto Willowbank Raceway for Rounds 5 and 6 at the Super 3 on April 18-19 while Top Doorslammer is back in action for Round 4 at Calder Park Raceway April 4-5.
Aeroflow Sportsman Summary
Red lights were a theme throughout eliminations including the finals to decide a string of Westernationals titles in Round 3 of the Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship.
The Westerns are a huge event so its understandable competitors would feel a little jumpy but one man with ice running through his veins is Ross Smith who secured his third straight Westernationals crown on the Suzuki Hayabusa.
The three time Comp Bike Westernational champion qualified second and took out Stan Lisle, Ross Green, Ryan Learmonth and finally Kevin Gummow to lift the ANDRA Gold Christmas tree yet again.
Smith, who looks to have provisionally set new records for mph and ET along the way, said the humidity arriving around semi-final time didn’t affect his speeds despite ETs suffering.
“The semi-final with Ryan (Learmonth) it was both of us just on the tank and the same again in the final with Kevin (Gummow) I was just on the tank and he didn’t come past.”
“It was a top weekend! A huge thanks goes out to Barry.”
Rounding out Group 2 action, Alistair McClure took the honours in Comp Eliminator as both his semi-final and final opponent Andrew Katavatis and Damien Dequen left the cherry on the tree allowing the BB/FCA to secure the ANDRA Gold Christmas tree with a final run of 6.450 on the 6.75.
Jake Chaisty was another who suffered at the hands of the red light after going fast all weekend leaving Errol Quartermaine to take the Westernatioanls Super Stock title with a 7.850 on the 8.13.
In other results Frank Taylor won the title for Supercharged Outlaws with a 6.820 on the 8.24 against a red lighting Ian Foster.
Modified was decided by Jamie Nelmes with an 8.678 on the 8.24 leaving a malfunctioning Paul Ryan at the line.
Ethan Hort defeated Lorenzo Gullotto in Super Sedan with a 9.797 on the 9.78 from 8.098 on the 8.09.
Lindsay Wood took the Modified Bike honours with 9.392 on the 9.15 from Brian Hotker with 10.638 on the 9.93.
Scott Jeffreys left the cherry on the tree as Darran Bakranich won the Super Street final with 11.123 on the 11.15 and Kyle Higgins took home the title for Junior Dragster with 8.166 on the 8.20 from another red light at the hands of Rebecca Ewing.
The Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship now moves onto to Adelaide in two weeks on March 14-15.
Results posted by: Tim Baker
Photos courtesy of Phil Luyer and Luke Nieuwhof (www.dragnews.com.au)