Australia’s Sydney Dragway hosts the penultimate season round for the 400 Thunder Series ….

The 2nd to last race for the 400 Thunder Professional series’s 2018-19 wrap round season turned on sensational racing, highlighted by some of the best Top Fuel racing ever seen in Australia. 

The Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder event was exemplified in the first round of racing with 6 of the 8 cars in the 3.8 second zone, and included two hole shot wins.

Driving for Rapisarda Autosport International – Wayne Newby was the Top Fuel winner.

Rapisarda Autosport International had two cars in the final round, with Wayne Newby taking the victory over popular Californian Ashley Sanford. The win moves Newby ahead of the current Top Fuel Champion Kelly Bettes, who had a solid day but relinquished the points lead.

“This is all for Santo Rapisarda. It is an honor to drive his car, and with Santino tuning it we are really starting to show what we can do”, enthused Newby as he was handed the Gold Christmas Tree for his victory.

Defending 400 Thunder Top Fuel Champion Kelly Bettes will need to play catchup in the final season race.

Pro Slammer was a battle royal between the current champ and points leader Paul Mouhayet, and the multi time former Australian Champion John Zappia. The start line advantage went to Mouhayet but a wild half track wheelstand opened the door for Zappia to sneak by with a 5.655 to a 5.95. Just after the finish line, Zappia drifted into Mouhayet’s lane and showed him a windscreen full of parachute, however both stopped safely without incident.

Legendary Pro Slammer racer John Zappia was once again a winner.

Pro Stock was an all family affair in the final round, with Aaron Tremayne taking the victory over his brother Tyronne who was plagued with an issue just off the start line. Tremayne cemented his win with low elapsed time of the event with a 6.91, and increased his points lead over Chris Soldatos with only one round of the series remaining.

Pro Alcohol saw the Championship Leader Gary Phillips all but lock up the title with a shaking 5.74 over Championship rival Steve Reed. There was drama in the first round with Rob Ambruosi suffering a broken camshaft at half-track, resulting in a massive explosion and fire ball. Ambruosi’s safety equipment protected him well and he returned to spectate later in the evening.

History was made at Sydney Dragway on Saturday night as Luke Crowley broke one of the last remaining performance barriers in modern Australian drag racing — recording the first six second Pro Bike run.

Crowley left his run until the his last pass of the night, with the dramatically cooling conditions playing into the veteran racers hands. Matched against Daniel Rabnott who had the best seat in the house to witness history, Crowley focused on running his own race and a 6.90 was the reward for years of toiling away on the combination on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Luke Crowley made history in the Australia Pro Bike class – when he notched that countries first 6-secs ET.

“We knew the bike had it in it. This run has been coming for the better part of 10 years, and to finally get it is such a relief” Crowley said after the race

The Event Champion after 3 rounds of racing was West Australian Ryan Learmonth who collected his second win in succession. The event was far from smooth however, with Learmonth suffering a low speed entry into the gravel pit earlier in the day. He raced to a 7.07 in the final, after his opponent Glenn Wooster was shut down by track crews with an oil leak.

The 400 Thunder Series now moves to Willowbank Raceway in early June for the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals, the final round for the 2018-19 Championship season.

Posted by Rusty Gregory

Photos courtesy of John Baremans & John Doig

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