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Zappia smokes the opposition at Darwin’s Hidden Valley

John Zappia and the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Pro Slammer team have begun the 2018/19 400 Thunder season in the strongest way possible, taking home the win from Nitro Up North at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Drag Strip.

Zappia overcame mixed results in testing to find consistency for race day, where he defeated Paul Mouhayet in the final round with a 5.73 pass, as the Moits Racing Mustang headed for the centre line and an early shut off.

“For the first couple of runs in testing the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro blew the tyres off,” he said. “The first one I missed the burnout as there wasn’t enough water down but we left the settings the same and the track came to us for a 5.71. It was all over the track still, and I was on the verge of backing off, but I stayed on it and drove out of the slide much to my and the crew’s relief.”

Figuring the skating was down to a dew-covered race track, Zappia elected to keep his tune up the same for racing where he would first face Daniel Gregorini. A red light from the green Camaro saw Zappia’s 5.72 earn the win points and set up a match with rookie Emilio Spinozzi for round two. Another 5.72 did the job as Spinozzi spun the tyres, setting up a final round against Mouhayet, but smoke in the deep end had eyes on Zappia’s motor.

“After we went 5.72 in the first round I was too scared to touch the tune up as we had something consistent. Someone said the car looked smokey in the braking area. We did some leakdown tests and a couple of cylinders weren’t reading as well as they should have.

“We pulled the sump off to make sure there was no problem in the bottom of the motor, but it was clean, and even though the car smoked on the warm up for the second round we thought it would clear out for the run, which it did.

“Then before the third round we warmed up the motor and a cylinder on the other side of the motor started smoking! We knew we had an issue with some rings that needed replacing but with only an hour turn around for the final we had to leave it. It wouldn’t have been impossible to do but it would have been a lot of work and it was a big risk to take if we didn’t get the motor back together in time for the final.”

Zappia performed the burnout for the final round and the smoke from the exhaust resumed, creating quite the haze on track.

“I was backing up and I could see there was a heap of smoke from the engine mixed in with the smoke from the burnout, but all the gauges looked good and my brother Richard told the officials there was nothing leaking, and it was just a dodgy piston ring and it’s going to be fine, just like the last run.

“Maybe we looked like sitting ducks but as soon as we launched the smoke cleared up, it only seemed to smoke on vacuum. Through first gear I could see Paul outside but then in second gear I drove around him, I think he got really close to the centre line and got off it. My car moved around a little too, but we got to the finish line and got the job done with low ET of every round and the win.”

Darwin has had mixed results for Zappia in the past, with the unique weather and track conditions often throwing curve balls. But for now, Hidden Valley is back in Zappia’s good books.

“It turned out to be an awesome event, with new sponsor Muscle Car Warehouse welcomed aboard it must have bought us luck. We also had the owners of Crow Cams up here watching in the corporate box, they enjoyed the meeting and had a wonderful time seeing the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro back at the top.”

The next 400 Thunder Pro Slammer round takes place at Sydney Dragway on November 2-3.

Photos thanks to Phil Blondell and Craig Radcliffe.

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Zappia Racing welcomes new sponsor and heads to Darwin for Nitro up North 2018

John Zappia and Zappia Racing Promotions would like to welcome Parry Bitsikas and Billy from Muscle Car Warehouse as a Major Sponsor for the 2018/2019 Australian Drag Racing season.

Parry and Billy are both keen motor car enthusiasts having bought and sold many muscle and collectible cars over the years.

Their company, Muscle Car Warehouse has been set up for the motoring enthusiast who is interested in purchasing their Muscle Car dream, either as a personal or Superannuation investment.

Muscle Car Warehouse can also sell their collectible cars to interested investors or request a specific car for them to source. They can also assist with pricing guidelines and advice on the Muscle Car market.

Zappia Racing hope to have a successful 2018/2019 season and take Muscle Car Warehouse on our drag racing journey. A big thank you to Parry and Billy for putting their faith and sponsorship in Zappia Racing.

John Zappia and his race transporter are on their way to Darwin with the Fuchs Lubricants/Dananni Hotshots Monaro ready for the start of the 2018/2019 racing season.

John is excited about the upcoming season and to begin his clash with new series champion Paul Mouhayet and several other race teams who have recently stepped up and thrown out the challenge to the rest of the field.

Having set the Hidden Valley track record at 5.69 at last year’s Nitro up North, John is hoping to improve on his performance – having been knocked out in the quarter final with a mechanical issue.

John has given the Fuchs Lubricants/Dananni Hotshots Monaro a thorough check over and hopefully the car will perform as we know it can.

The all-run format will see all cars testing on the Friday night then the point scoring rounds run on Saturday 14th July 2018.

John and the Zappia Racing team always look forward to Nitro up North due to the incredible atmosphere at the track as well as catching up with our northern friends and supporters.

Zappia Racing are hoping to see as many Sponsors, friends and supporters at the Hidden Valley track visit us and check out the merchandise in front of our pit area.

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One era ends, but the next is just beginning for Zappia

One of the greatest eras of domination in Australian motorsport came to an end last Sunday at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway, where 11 times national Pro Slammer champion John Zappia finished runner up in the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series.

It has been a remarkable decade and a half for the driver of the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro. When Zappia returned to the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Series in 2003, his competitors knew he was there to make an impression. In the first two seasons where Zappia chased all of the points rounds (2005-2007), he finished runner up in the championship. His breakthrough national championship happened in the 2007-2008 season and from there he would dominate ANDRA Top Doorslammer and 400 Thunder Pro Slammer racing for a decade.

Zappia led the points into the Winternationals, the final round of the 2017/18 400 Thunder Series, with Paul Mouhayet following close behind. Both cleared the first hurdle – qualifying into the record-quick field.

Zappia was the most consistent in qualifying, running 5.669 at 254.42mph off the trailer, followed by a 5.655 at 255.82 and a 5.672 at 255.82 in Q3. That placed the team third after Paul Mouhayet with a 5.653, and Steve Ham who top qualified with an impressive 5.652 in a field that had a bump spot of 5.80.

Zappia was matched up with fellow Western Australian Marty Dack for the first round and caught a lucky break when Dack red lit. That single lucky break had the potential to be a championship changer as shortly after launching, the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro broke an airline to the gearbox resulting in not being able to shift gears.

“The battle could have been over right then with a mechanical failure,” Zappia said. “But Marty’s bad luck was our blessing.”

The semi final would be an epic, as Zappia took on Mouhayet in a race that would decide the entire championship. As a result of the slow elapsed time from the first round, Zappia lost lane choice – a critical factor at Willowbank.

“We changed ratios in our gearbox and stepped up the tune a little bit to take on Paul – this was a winner takes all race. I managed to cut a light and it was game on. I was in front and pulling away, but the difference for us from Paul was that I had the front wheels still in the air. The right lane hadn’t been good to many people and we found we had more traction on our left tyre than the right so the car moved right. I was waiting for the nose to come down because I knew to lift would be to lose. I stayed with it as long as I could but the wall was getting closer and I had to feather the throttle. I thought I just got away with it but I scraped up the exhaust headers and then it was time to push the clutch in, pull the chutes and watch Paul earn his first Pro Slammer Championship. Congratulations to Paul, his tuner Billy Stocklin and their whole team on a well-deserved title.”

After the race it was an unusual feeling for Zappia, who has made the Winternationals his own over the years.

“Now I know what it feels like to make that drive back when you have come so close and just missed the championships. But we put on a thrilling race for the crowd and now there is a real rivalry everyone can look forward to next season.”

Zappia is a competitor through and through and while bitterly disappointed not to win the championship, he realised the scope of his achievements.

“We’ve won 11 championships and gone runner up in three more – a couple of those came down to the very last rounds. It has been an incredible ride – and it is not over yet.

“I never thought when I returned to Top Doorslammer racing that we would have this level of success. We’ve always pushed performance boundaries, but in the old days we would only have one engine and failures used to take their toll.

“A new champion will be good for the sport and the level of competition in Pro Slammer is now unbelievable. There are four cars in the 5.6s and several others in the very low 5.7s. The pace has stepped up and this is the most exciting bracket in Australian drag racing right now.”

The start of the next season is just weeks away, with Pro Slammer teams heading to Hidden Valley Drag Strip for Nitro Up North on July 13 and 14. As well as performing all the necessary maintenance before the haul to Darwin, Zappia will be putting the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro on display at the WA Hot Rod and Street Machine Spectacular at Claremont Showgrounds this weekend.

“We will be showing the car and we will also have our merchandise available including the new Biante models,” he said.

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Winternationals war is familiar territory for Zappia

John Zappia comes to the 2018 Winternationals prepared for a fight in the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro.

Following a titanic duel with Paul Mouhayet this season, Zappia comes into the season-ending 400 Thunder event with a 16 point lead.

These kinds of battles are not unusual for the 11-times national championship winner. It was at the 2010 Winternationals where Zappia’s most hard fought championship win came. After going toe to toe with Robin Judd throughout the ANDRA Top Doorslammer season, the pair would meet in the final round with the outcome of the championship coming down to that last clash.

“I think I was four points behind going into the final run, even holding bonus points for low ET,” Zappia said. “We had to win that run to win the championship and that is what we did. Talk about a pressure situation.”

Thankfully pressure is where Zappia Racing thrives. Whenever challenged, the team has been able to find a way to improve, be that in the leagues of outright performance or for championship points.

“It is nerve wracking time but we have the experience of that. The whole Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team deliver our best when we are under that pressure, we work better with pressure.”

Zappia has been paying attention to the performances of his rivals ahead of the Winternationals, with some impressive numbers recorded by Scott MacLean (5.57) and Paul Mouhayet (5.61).

“There were some pretty amazing low down numbers on Scott’s run in particular,” Zappia said. “It shows the rest of us that very low 60 foot times are possible with a 2700 pound car.

“We will see what kind of conditions we get for race weekend. The track was nearly perfect for testing and they had great air.

“I think we can go fast as well, our best at Willowbank was the 5.64 we ran at last year’s Winternationals before it was rained out.

“Drag racing is a sport where anything can happen. Scott was celebrating after his run and hurt his leg! So who knows what the Winternationals will see.

“What I do think we will witness is another 5.8 second bump spot for the eight car field – anyone who makes it into that field is going to be a threat on race day.”

Zappia Racing fans at the event seeking a rare collectible should make sure they come and see the team’s merchandise stand where the Biante 1:18 diecast model will be available.

“We are going to have stock at Willowbank but once they are gone, they are gone, so make sure you come and see us early,” Zappia said. “We will be at the track from Thursday setting up, which will be a great time to come and take an up close look at the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro before we get into qualifying on the Friday.”

Photo courtesy dragphotos.com.au.

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Direct Link to Willowbank Raceway Web Site

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Zappia back on top after Nitro Thunder win

John Zappia has returned to the lead of the 2017/18 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship with victory at the penultimate round of the series in Sydney.

Zappia and the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro took out the Nitro Thunder event in a thrilling final round against Sam Fenech, 5.751 to a 5.823.

“That was a really close and exciting race as a driver and for the fans,” Zappia said. “Sam and the App Shop team have been going really well lately with consistent 5.7s on different race tracks, so we couldn’t leave anything to chance.

“Sam got a small holeshot on me but we made up the difference by 60 feet. Then the tyres started to shake on the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro so I needed to pedal and I saw Sam’s nose pop out in front. We had to drive past him again in the middle with our Noonan horsepower and I didn’t know where he was – it wasn’t until I watched the video later I saw how close that Camaro was.”

Conditions at Nitro Thunder proved challenging, as ‘mineshaft’ air conditions combined with cold temperatures to leave only a small tuning window to run quick passes.

“Testing on Friday night got too cold for almost everyone, but with the sun on the track for race day it was nearly perfect,” Zappia said. “We left our tune up the same from Friday night to Saturday morning and let the track come to us, which worked out perfectly as we ran a 5.633 at 255.92mph in the practice session before racing.

“Once the track started to cool off again on Saturday our tyre shake was getting worse on every run and I was having to pedal each time to get through first gear.

“I think we saw lots of teams have one good run and then a couple of bad ones. We weren’t the quickest in racing but it was one of those right place, right time events.

“By the time we got to the final the air was 78 feet beneath sea level but the cold temperatures meant it was extremely difficult to put that horsepower down to the ground.”

Following his win, Zappia gave credit to the local smarts involved in the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro team for creating a doorslammer that can compete with the world’s best.

“There’s a lot of Australian innovation in this car,” he explained. “We use an Australian-built SCF Race Cars chassis powered by a complete Noonan Engineering motor. There’s an Australian camshaft thanks to Crow Cams, Australian data logging courtesy of Motec/SDS Fuel Systems, Australian hoses and fittings from Speedflow – the list goes on.

“It’s an all Australian crew, plus we run an Australian HQ Monaro body and we’re even right hand drive. The local development of this car is something we are very proud of.”

With the points lead now in hand, Zappia is looking forward to the final event of the 400 Thunder season, the Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway on June 7 to 10. The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team will attempt to earn a 12th straight national title.

“Nitro Thunder was smooth sailing for us in the pits, the Noonan engine ran like clockwork, the Boninfante clutch stayed in the car all weekend with minor adjustments and the B&J Transmission was super reliable as always and complimented by the world class oil and lubricants from Fuchs Lubricants we were virtually maintenance free. The support of co-naming rights sponsor Dananni Hotshots makes our travels to all states in Australia possible.

“We returned to our 5.60 baseline tune and the car responded. We are looking forward to Willowbank Raceway where our car works really well to see if we can create history with a 12th championship.

“We are keen to see as many of our sponsors, supporters and fans at Willowbank to see the titanic battle for the championship, in what is sure to be a race to the wire.”

Photo courtesy Grant Stephens/cacklingpipes.com.

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Zappia seeks perfection for penultimate Pro Slammer round in Sydney

No stone has been left unturned by John Zappia and his team of Pro Slammer professionals ahead of the second last round of the 400 Thunder Drag Racing Series at Sydney Dragway this weekend, May 4-5.

The Australian record holding Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro has been given what Zappia described as a birthday, with every aspect of the car looked over to ensure maximum consistency and performance at the Nitro Thunder event.

“We have had the crank crack tested and honed the block thanks to Southside Engine Centre, rebuilt the B&J Transmission, freshened up the Boninfante Clutch with new fingers and plates and put every part of the car under a microscope,” he said.

“Reliability is what you need to win championships and from here on in we need everything to be 100% right.”

Zappia said he was looking forward to returning to Sydney Dragway where the performances of the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro have been consistent.

“The car runs good in Sydney and we have everything in our tune up back to where we ran 5.60 last year,” he said. “The weather looks like it will be cooler which suits us and the schedule has been adjusted to keep us out of the coldest temperatures where it can be tricky to put the power down.”

Points are the primary consideration so Zappia will be going for consistency rather than shooting for a new national record.

“The potential for the first 5.5 second run in Pro Slammer competition is there for sure,” he said. “When we went 5.60 the car was 30 pounds overweight. Now the car is the lightest it has been so hopefully we can capitalise on that and at least get back to consistent low 5.6s. A high 5.5 is not out of the question.”

While outright performance is valuable, good reaction times can also provide valuable hundredths of a second. That is an area where Zappia feels he has been on the improve.

“The better the car performs, the better I perform on the lights,” he said. “When you are wondering what is going to happen when you drop the clutch you can get distracted. Sometimes reaction times aren’t all driver, they can be in clutch settings as well.”

Zappia and the team will be testing on the Wednesday before the event as well as in official test sessions on Friday night.

“We are going to test with some new Hoosiers on Wednesday and make sure everything is ready, then we have a couple of test passes Friday night, then into racing,” he said. “We are making sure the tyres are bedded in and happy, then we will know which set to use for the weekend.”

The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro will be part of a 13 car Pro Slammer field with some of the quickest cars in the nation set to wow fans. Testing begins from 5pm on Friday while 400 Thunder racing begins from 3.30pm Saturday.

Photo courtesy Luke Nieuwhof/dragnews.com.au.

Event information – Tickets, Event Schedule, Pit Allocations: Sydney Dragway

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ZAPPIA’S SOUTHERN THUNDER WIN PUTS PRESSURE ON OPPONENTS

John Zappia has closed the gap in the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship with a win at Adelaide International Raceway’s Southern Thunder event, putting the pressure on Paul Mouhayet ahead of the final two rounds of the series.

In an unusual weekend of racing at Adelaide International Raceway that saw late format changes and a shift to eighth mile racing due to high winds, Zappia’s Fuchs/Dananni Hot Shots Holden Monaro was able to defeat Mouhayet’s Ford Mustang in a close fought final round.

Zappia began his weekend as he finished it, with the quickest times of testing before getting into race day.

“Southern Thunder was a strange event for sure, we tested over 1000 feet which is the normal distance at Adelaide International Raceway and ended up on an eighth mile (660 feet),” Zappia said.

“The first test run was a 5.15, straight down the track. After that sighting pass we put the normal timing curve back in and put the horsepower back up. The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro left hard with a .987 60 foot time and it really got going in second gear, moving a metre left out of the groove and a metre right. We ran a 4.98 on that pass but I guess the important number was the eighth mile time of 3.89, when we were told we would be reducing the race distance because of the wind.

“Most of the teams were struggling to make a full pull but we knew the track would get better as the event went on.”

A format change for Saturday’s racing saw a test session followed by a single race round and then the finals. With Mouhayet on a solo run thanks to his championship lead, Zappia had to make it to the final the hard way, taking on fellow Western Australian Marty Dack.

“In the interests of the teams’ safety we were racing on an eighth mile. We pretty much left it the same as we run it on the quarter mile, we just leaned out the fuel system a little earlier,” Zappia explained. “The good news was the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro was responding to all the changes we were making, with no tyre shake.

“We went 3.85/196mph against Marty for the win and the time was quick enough to get us into the final round against Paul.”

With an opportunity to claw back points, Zappia needed the win light in yet another titanic match up between the pair.

“Paul left first by two hundredths but we knew there was plenty of bite in the first part of the Adelaide International Raceway surface. We were 2.54 to the 330 feet mark which is only four hundredths off our best. We drove around Paul in the middle of the track and crossed the line with a 3.799/196mph to his 3.86/206mph.”

With another 400 Thunder trophy in hand, Zappia is in a surprisingly familiar position despite his 10 national championships in Top Doorslammer and one win in Pro Slammer – as an underdog. Zappia trails Mouhayet by 24 points.

“We’ve been here before, there have been seasons where we have been down 70 points on Peter Kapiris or even four points down on Robin Judd until the final round of the Winternationals. As long as there is a chance, we still fight it out until the end.

“This championship is Moits Racing’s and Paul’s to lose and ours to gain.”

Zappia plans to test some new ideas at Perth Motorplex’s Powerpalooza this Saturday, April 7 before heading to Nitro Thunder at Sydney Dragway in May for the penultimate round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Series.

Get down to Motorplex this weekend for an exciting final meeting which includes drag racing, burnouts, a demolition derby and speedway. Drag Racing starts at 10am and runs until 7.00pm, so get there early to watch all the drag racing action before moving across to see all the speedway action later in the night.

Top Photo courtesy Hayley Turns/Outlaw Images.

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NO ROOM FOR ERROR IN CHAMPIONSHIP AS ZAPPIA TAKES WESTERNATIONALS RUNNER UP

Second might come right after first, but John Zappia knows he needs better for the final three events of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship following a runner up performance at the MacTrack Westernationals at Perth Motorplex.

Zappia’s Westernationals week began early with an evening of testing at the Motorplex on the Thursday before the event. With many Pro Slammer teams in attendance it was a chance for the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team to get their preparation underway.

“We wanted an extra run on the set of tyres we had in order to bed them in,” Zappia explained. “Our first run didn’t go that well with a big wheelstand, so we put another set of tyres we had back on and came out to run a 5.74, though the car did wander left and ended up taking out the last three timing boxes.

“We knew we were on the right track and it was good to help us get some confidence back.”

Come race weekend there was much discussion about the possibility of Australia’s quickest ever Pro Slammer field, and it did not disappoint.

“Our first qualifying pass was a 5.70 with another big wheelstand in first and second gear – I don’t think it dropped the front wheels until about 350 feet. The car went nice and straight so we were pretty happy and it put us number one after the first session.”

As the sun set and the night cooled, conditions were becoming nearly perfect for Pro Slammer racing and several teams looked to take advantage in the second qualifying session.

Paul Mouhayet and the Moits Racing Ford Mustang initially leapfrogged Zappia with a 5.67 pass, but the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro struck back with a 5.66 on the following run.

“We were right behind Moits so we watched them make a great pass in front of us. Our car launched really well, keeping the front end down and going through for a 5.66 – it was a thrill for the crowd to see this battle in progress.”

Before session three, Zappia studied the data and believed that there was potential to hit the start line even harder again.

“We took the left lane for the final qualifying session but we overpowered the track and didn’t go anywhere. Paul improved to a 5.62 to take away the top spot from us at the last gasp, but we still had a couple of good runs on the board ourselves.”

The first round would see Zappia take on Darwin’s Matt Abel, who has become a regular five second hitter.

“We measured both lanes and they were both coming up with similar readings so we decided to take the left. The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro took off nice but at 60 feet we had massive tyre shake, way different to the night before. We were at a loss as to why the left lane came up so different, but we were able to pedal to a 5.86 and get away with it as Matt left a red light on the tree.”

The semi finals would be a tough match up, with Zappia taking on Sam Fenech in The App Shop Camaro, who recorded a new personal best of 5.74 the previous night. The race proved unusual for the drivers.

“As I came into stage against Sam we both put the top light on, then I revved it up and the car jumped in and knocked the top light out – I was in deep and hanging on to the brake. That kind of threw me and he must have got startled by the top light going out because he cut a .4 light and so amazingly my .194 had a two tenths holeshot. We needed every bit of that as I pedalled to a 5.80 to beat a 5.74. Other than that run all my lights had been in the .0s all weekend which was a big step up for me.”

Frustrated by tyre shake, Zappia knew he had to make a change to the set up before the final, where he was due to face Paul Mouhayet.

“This thing was shaking, shaking, and shaking every time. We decided to pull some timing out and calm it down before 60 foot. It was better but not enough, we came out with a .046 light to his .053 but Paul was on stellar runs all weekend and there is no room for pedalling with a 5.66 next to you.

“I made a 5.80 out of the run somehow at 410kmh. The last two runs had 410kmh so we had enough power and in some ways maybe we just had too much power because we couldn’t use it. The car just wanted to shake when we got past 60 feet.”

Zappia felt the Motorplex track surface was definitely at a new level of grip, making it tough to get wheel speed.

“The Westernationals was different to how the Motorplex track has felt to us for the rest of the season, definitely prepped differently. We just need to do a better job of reading the track and deciphering that.

“But all in all it was a pretty good weekend, we qualified second, we ended up second out of 17 cars and we did better than most bar one. Unfortunately now he is 40 points ahead in the championship so it puts pressure on, we have no room for error in the final three events.”

The next round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship takes place at Adelaide International Raceway’s Southern Thunder event on March 23 and 24.

“We’ve done okay at Adelaide, I think our best is 4.83 over the 1000 foot distance that we will compete over for this event.

“Each time we go there the track comes up better and better and I have no doubt it will be as good or better there this meeting and I am sure we will see new track records.”

Selected Photos: www.dragnews.com.au

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Zappia race fit for MacTrack Westernationals after Nitro Night runner up

John Zappia’s preparation for the next round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Series at the MacTrack Westernationals has begun with a runner up at Perth Motorplex’s Nitro Night.

Zappia entered Nitro Night to test some ideas in the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro and bed in new Hoosier tyres.

“The first pass saw some driver error where I did a first gear burnout instead of a third gear burnout on new tyres that needed a good scrubbing,” he said. “It still launched well, one of the best of the day actually, but then I missed the shift button to second gear.

“I came out for the compulsory qualifier and it left well for a 5.77, though I used up a bit of the lane when it went left and got out of the groove.

“The third run I think there had been an oildown in front and they had just sprayed the track so it was way stickier than all the other runs. The car rattled and I had to pedal it and carry on for a 5.98 but luckily that was good enough to get into the A Final.”

That final round would see Zappia take on the Dananni Hotshots Ford Falcon of Ryan Moresby, which earlier ran its first five second pass.

“We had another set of new tyres which I thought could work, but they could also cost us the race. It launched good but went to the right and at the edge of the groove it rattled, front wheels in the air, I was steering and nothing was happening. Nine times out of ten it puts the front wheels down but this time it kept the front wheels in the air. I could have pedalled it to try and drop the front but it was a case of could’ve, would’ve, should’ve.

“But still it was an all Dananni Hotshots final round and Stuart Moresby won for Dananni Hotshots in Top Comp too – congratulations to the team on their victories.”

The MacTrack Westernationals is next on the agenda for Zappia, who will be aiming to take back the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer points lead.

Typically a hot and humid event that does not lend itself to record setting runs, Zappia believes a set up that could find consistent 5.7s with the occasional 5.6 would be in a good position to take the win.

“I’m not sure the weather will be kind, but at this stage it doesn’t look ridiculous either,” he said. “The air was really good in Sydney when we ran our 5.601 second pass, but we have also done a 5.65 there with warm and humid conditions so it is possible. At last year’s Westernationals we ran a 5.72 best – it all depends on the air on the day.”

A classy field of 17 cars has entered so far including Paul Mouhayet and the USA’s Frankie Taylor making their first appearances in Pro Slammer at Perth Motorplex.

Zappia said in drag racing predictions can go out the window, because anything can happen and it often does.

“I need to make sure everything is 100% right for this meeting and do my best to try and have a consistent race car,” he said. “The entire field is tough, and most of the cars entered are five second runners, so we could see a low 5.9 second bump spot..

“I’d love all of my fans come to the Motorplex and see the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro at what is going to be one of the all time great Pro Slammer events. Whether you come on qualifying day and see the battle to make the field or race day where there will only be one winner, you’re going to be in for some of the best drag racing in the world.”

Photos courtesy Luke Nieuwhof: Dragnews

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CHAMPIONSHIP STILL THE FOCUS FOR ZAPPIA AFTER SANTO’S SUMMER THUNDER

The 400 Thunder Pro Slammer championship continues the battle between John Zappia and Paul Mouhayet as they went toe-to-toe at Santo’s Summer Thunder in Sydney on Saturday.

After recording two wins and the quickest two elapsed times of the opening two rounds, Zappia earned his final round place against Mouhayet where a big wheelstand in the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro cost him the race and saw the points lead return to Mouhayet.

“We ran a 5.65 in testing the night before race day using our set up from Willowbank and that was what we used for the final,” Zappia said.

“Unfortunately the track was a little different, more slippery early and then really grippy after 60 feet, so we took off with a lot of wheel speed and then it was able to carry the wheels and get out of the groove.

“When I punched second gear it rattled the tyres out of control and turned into a blur. I had to pedal it way too much and I almost gave up on the run entirely but I decided to carry on just in case something happened to Paul.”

While he left Sydney without the win, Zappia was happy overall with this eastern swing which included a win in Willowbank.

“All in all it was an excellent couple of events. We started 28 points behind Mouhayet, we were three points in front and now only nine points behind.

“Moits Racing have shown we can be beaten, the pressure is on, we knew they were going to step it up and know they are capable of more.”

While Zappia was forced to give up the points lead on Mouhayet’s home track, the game will change for round five of the championship Zappia returns to his own home track of Perth Motorplex for the Westernationals on March 3 and 4.

“Paul and Moits Racing have a lot of experience at Sydney Dragway but they have only been to the Motorplex once and that was in their turbocharged Mustang,” Zappia said.

“But that said, they have a lot of talent in their team and will find a way to adapt. We’re going to have to use our extensive knowledge of the Motorplex to get the upper hand.”

Zappia and team will test the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro at the Nitro Night event on February 17 at Perth Motorplex as part of the Direct Mining and Industrial Summer Slam series.

“We will go into R&D mode and see if we can find anything else, then we will go into The Westernationals with our best combination,” he said.

“There’s some great competition in Perth to keep us on our toes, with Kelvin Lyle running 5.75 last weekend with a Zappia Racing engine and Daniel Gregorini getting back into the fives and starting to find his way again.”

And with the battle royal of 400 Thunder Pro Slammer coming for the Westernationals, Zappia urged drag racing fans to turn out in force and support what will be a world class event.

“I’d like anyone who considers themselves a fan of Zappia Racing and the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro to get to Perth Motorplex on March 3 and 4 because this is going to be one of the great events of all time at Kwinana.

“We have to get that points lead back and we want every fan we’ve got out there cheering loudly.”

For more details on the Westernationals, head to www.motorplex.com.au.

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