High Drama as ANDRA hits Adelaide
On the Labour Day long weekend in South Australia, a big crowd turned out to not only welcome back Top Fuel after a long absence, but also take in the sights and sounds provided by Racing Onn Promotions….
Phil Lamattina has regained the advantage in Top Fuel, John Zappia won his seventh Top Doorslammer Championship as a runner up to Grant O’Rourke and Luke Crowley virtually assured back-to-back titles in Pro Stock Motorcycle at the Fuchs Spring Nationals held at Adelaide.
According to David Pearce, a returnee to the AIR venue after many years, it was exciting to see Drag Racing embraced so well by Adelaide.
“We had a great time. The kids loved it, I loved it and it was great to see the Roulettes fly over and even give the kids a ride on the Monster Truck,” he said.
“They probably liked the free ice cream more than the racing but they just couldn’t believe it when the Top Fuel cars came out so we really enjoyed it. The Clipsal 500 is the Clipsal 500 but this felt sort of like a mini version of that.”
Coming into the day both the Lamattina Top Fuel Racing cars occupied first and second and since none of the four drivers could improve on their position in the final qualifier the status quo was maintained giving LFTR lane choice.
In the semi finals John Lamattina met Damien Harris who maintained hopes of stealing the Top Fuel Championship from under the noses of his teammate Allan Dobson and Phil Lamattina.
Unfortunately Harris spun the tyres big time while the younger Lamattina was able to put down a clean 4.205-second pass at 273.55 mph to reach the final.
The title fight in semi final number two proved to be exactly as both Allan Dobson and Phil Lamattina smoked the tyres the length of the track like it was the 1960s. Although Dobson fought gallantly on a 4.673 at 235.10 mph, Lamattina was able to take the win light and a Championship advantage on a 4.313 at 247.66.
With LTFR guaranteed of the one-two, John handed over lane choice to his older brother Phil who reacted far superior on the green to take a giant leap toward his second ANDRA Drag Racing Series Top Fuel Championship on a 4.203 second pass at 267.14 mph from a 4.537 at 235.78 mph.
“It’s great to have the points lead, it’s always better to be chased than doing the chasing,” said Phil Lamattina.
“I really have to thank John’s team for allowing me to have lane choice in the final and also to have two Fuchs Top Fuel Dragsters in the final, that’s no mean feat.
“The Rapisarda team is a tough, tough opposition. They want it and they want it bad. We came out on top today, but Sydney is another thing.
“In Sydney we’ll be running the one car. We just believe that we just need to focus all of our efforts on the one car and we believe that’s the best shot we have. “We don’t go to a race meeting just to win a couple of rounds, we would love to go three rounds and win the Championship with an exclamation mark.”
John Zappia made it seven ANDRA Drag Racing Series Top Doorslammer Championships in a row by reaching the Fuchs Spring Nationals final however it was Grant O’Rourke who secured his very first Series victory in his first ever final in at least 12 years of racing.
Stuart Bishop, nearest Championship rival to Zappia, had it all to do to stay in touch but in a repeat of the final at Hidden Valley, he two stepped to roll the beams in the semi finals against eventual winner Grant O’Rourke who recorded his lowest ET of the weekend with a 5.156 at 216.97 mph.
Zappia had earlier come through a testing Round 1 against Marty Dack but he was able to skate and pedal his way around the Falcon in a left lane that proved troublesome in losses for Gary Phillips, Pino Priolo and Bill Goonan before him.
Against Grant O’Rourke in his very first final, Zappia got way out of shape on the hit tagging the wall with his rear wing as O’Rourke celebrated all the way on a 5.260 at 216.97 mph.
“We’re wrapped, don’t really know what to say,” said O’Rourke.
“To take out Zappia, arguably the best of the best, the last person to beat him was me in the first round of the whole season and here we are now.
“I’m absolutely stoked. This whole weekend, this whole thing is about the mates and the kids that got shot down in that plane. I can’t be more honest, more genuine about that. It just seems to be if there is any two people that have ever been matched together, it’d be me and Zap and I don’t mind. There’s a game here and a game there but I’d rather meet him in a final than the first round I’ll give you the tip.”
Despite the final round loss, Zappia secured lucky Championship number #7 in a row, a first in Top Doorslammer.
“Any time you make a final it’s a good effort,” said Zappia. “Unfortunately we staged a bit too far left (in the final) and the car went too far left.
“I pedalled and just scraped the wall, I didn’t know I had scraped the wall, I knew it was close but it just grazed a layer of paint off and that was it. Winning the seventh Championship is awesome so the Fuchs/Striker Monaro lives to fight another day and we’ll head to Sydney, crank it right up and see if we can push the record.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle these days seems to always be about two riders, Luke Crowley and Maurice Allen.
Although Scott White performed very well all weekend and Ryan Learmonth impressed on his pro debut, Crowley and Allen met in yet another final for all the marbles.
Allen took down Glenn Wooster in Round 1 and had to ride around White in the semi when it looked as though he was beat, but White slowed allowing Allen to go through on a 7.902.
Crowley was in a familiar position winning his first round match up against Phil Howard then opening it up on a solo semi final pass of 7.299.
He would all but secure his second consecutive ANDRA Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship defeating Allen in the final on a 7.217 at 184.46 mph from a 7.766 at 160.94 mph.
“This win means more, it’s three in a row, we haven’t done that before,” said Crowley. “We ran our personal best for Adelaide in the final, 184 mph, the bike seems to be moving. It was a bit of dash after the solo run, I did a few things wrong so we looked back through all the data, looked at the conditions and went back to the setup we ran at the X-Champs. We 60-footed really well at the X-Champs so we went back to that exact same clutch set up within a gram and it worked. That’s as quick as this engine has gone at this weight.
“We had a few little dramas all weekend. We put the spare engine in and the transmission didn’t work for some reason last night.
“The golf cart broke down after we top qualified and I was sitting down the bottom end in the dark for 25 minutes wondering what was going on.
“We went through everything we had to and come race day I just sit down, do my job and try run the wheels off and luckily it all came together today.”
In addition to the stellar ANDRA Drag Racing Series action on track and the entertainment off it thanks to Racing Onn Promotions, Round 10 of the Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship came to an exciting close today at the Fuchs Spring Nationals.
Super Comp featured some of the best Competition Eliminator and Super Stock has to offer with several record setting performances.
Surprisingly, Les Heintz ousted top qualifier Alistair McClure, who blitzed the 1000 feet Adelaide International Raceway track in qualifying, on McClure’s first paired pass in Round 2.
Henitz himself was dispatched by Competition Eliminator Championship leader Craig Geddes on his way to a second Championship win in a row. Clearly the change in class to E/DA has paid off as Geddes defeated tough opposition in Chris Soldatos, Mario Barbon and George Sardelis in the final.
“We always planned to run E/DA,” said Geddes. “It’s working out as we get toward the end of the season with a couple of wins in a row now.
“Really looking forward to Sydney and hoping to put some good numbers down there, set some records and get enough points to win it all.”
As a regular visitor to Adelaide Geddes was also buoyed by the response of the South Australian public to come out in force and fill both sides of the Adelaide International Raceway venue.
“It was fantastic to see the amount of people up on the hill and every time the Doorslammers and Top Fuelers went down everyone was jumping and it was fantastic to see.”
Geddes also reset the elapsed time and mile per hour records for the E/DA class over 1000 feet from 6.25 and 159.00 mph to 6.211 and 163.19 mph.
His final opponent George Sardelis also set his own records for A/MPA improving on the previous 6.94 elapsed time and 149.00 mph markers with a 6.907 and 149.50 mph.
Daniel Camilleri claimed the ET record for DD/GA on his return to the National scene improving on the previous mark of 6.55 with a 6.437 second pass.
And finally Alistair McClure destroyed the BB/FCA ET record of 5.61 with a new standard of 5.528 seconds.
Elsewhere in Group Two, Rob Wasley from Western Australia walked away with the Fuchs Spring Nationals title in Competition Bike defeating David Willis and Tony Frost on his way to a deserved victory.
With 300 points in the bag already Mark Kuhn could afford to go for broke if he wanted to but his Fuchs Spring Nationals campaign ended at the Round 2 stage as did Ryan Van Dyk who will fall just short of the magic 300 going into the season ending Australian Nationals.
Doina Day did her hopes a huge favour by eliminating Kuhn and going all the way to the final where Paul Stephen got the win to boost his own chances of a title in what looks to be an 8-way battle.
Jasmine Ryan eliminated some strong opposition in Shane Wynd and Jake Cartledge to blow the bracket wide open before taking the honours against another tough customer in Michael Braggs in the final. Notable absentees from the later rounds included Jess Turner and Fuchs teammate Kenny Stewart.
Surprisingly John Kapiris bowed out of Super Sedan in the first round but he has such a commanding lead with more than the 300 point limit going into the final round that he could afford to have an off day. Jason Arbery was the eventual winner defeating Darren Nichele in the final.
With the top four Modified Bike contenders in town it was always going to be an intense battle. Fourth placed Shane Walker was eliminated in the first round while Joe Khoury and David Carroll each made the second round. Although he didn’t win, Edgell Mallis reached the final to gain on his rivals in a defeat to Malcolm Luff.
Knowing Kylie Tanner had won the Benaraby Nationals title for Super Street the previous night, Championship leader Joe Jurkovic may have wanted to prove a point. However Jurkovic already sits on 100 points than the maximum allowed going into the season finale so he can afford to relax despite a break out elimination in the quarter finals. Enzo Clemente claimed the Spring Nationals title defeating Greg Damiani in the final.
Toby Austin reached an impressive fourth Junior Dragster final of the season and once again he wasn’t to get the win against defending champ David Roberts. But Austin has shown some great consistency and if he continues on this rich vein of form he can close out the Championship at the Australian Nationals.
Finally Matt Forbes continued his winning streak after debuting his new Lucas Oil Corvette Roadster it was as if nothing had changed from his 27 Ford T Roadster except the fact this new car looks to have a lot more left in the tank. Forbes defeated Warren Bull, Renee Cockerill, Danny Buccella and Peter Datsun in the final to continue his long-standing win streak.
The 11th and final round of the Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship moves onto Sydney Dragway for the season ending Australian Nationals on October 31 – November 2, 2014.
Posted by: Tim Baker
Photos by: Outlaw Images