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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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Zappia puts the heat on Pro Slammer championship with New Years Thunder win

John Zappia has returned to the top of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer series with a textbook performance at Willowbank Raceway’s New Years Thunder event.

As hot temperatures scorched the track surface during the day, Zappia chose to keep the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro and his hard working team under cover during the optional test session before emerging for a first round confrontation against Queensland local Russell Pavey.

“When you have a track temp that is around 150F, what you learn isn’t going to be relative to racing conditions,” Zappia said. “And we have a car that has been going down the track well first pass on nearly any track.”

Zappia clinched his first win of the night with a 5.78/251mph run to defeat Pavey’s solid 6.17/237mph in his 63 Corvette.

Sam Fenech’s App Shop Camaro would be the next target for Zappia as the second round loomed.

“We came back and looked at the data and then got after it a bit more by putting more on to the Boninfante clutch and adding some power back into the Noonan engine,” Zappia explained. “The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro left well but it got real loose at the top end and close to the centre line so I pulled the chutes just before the finish. We still went 5.73 at just 248mph and with our two wins and solid numbers we were into the final.”

With the two quickest elapsed times of the night and two win lights, Zappia was perhaps a favourite on paper for the final round, but would face Queensland’s hometown hero Ben Bray for another epic match up.

“Ben put a good holeshot on me but we made up the difference between 330 feet and half track to come past him for our quickest run of the day at 5.70/251mph. Ben threw the blower belt off his Corvette, but even if it stayed on we had him covered.

“It was a flawless performance from my crew and everyone involved with our team. We got the win with three great runs and reclaimed the championship lead.The Noonan engine also performed flawlessly and thanks to the quality of the Fuchs Lubricants we had no maintenance and the engine looked brand new.

Zappia said he enjoyed the one day format, with spectators showing their support.

“I think the one day thing suits us. While it is a long way to travel for us for a single day, we generally can come out and run a low 5.7 or 5.6 off the trailer.

“The atmosphere was there, the crowd like it and whether the racers like it or not you can’t argue with the spectator numbers.”

The New Years Thunder win followed on from another victory by Zappia in the Direct Mining and Industrial Summer Slam at Perth Motorplex on December 2, where he defeated Kelvin Lyle – who runs a Zappia Racing engine combination – in a crowd pleasing 5.71 to 5.77 final round.

“We’ve had two very positive events in a row now. In Perth we not only won the event but we also ran our fastest ever speed at 258.64mph, in fact it was the fastest speed by any legal Top Doorslammer or Pro Slammer in the country.”

Zappia Racing are proud to announce they have welcomed a new sponsor to the fold with Boninfante Friction joining the many performance partners on the team.

“The clutch is the secret to getting a Pro Slammer power down the track so we are very happy to welcome a high quality partner like Boninfante Friction Inc. to our team.”

The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro will next head to Sydney Dragway for Santo’s Summer Thunder on January 20 where Zappia will aim to extend his championship lead.

“We aren’t letting our guard down and we are going to keep the pressure on our championship rivals. Paul Mouhayet was a little unlucky not to be in the final against us at Willowbank and we know they are going to be testing at every opportunity to come back at us.”

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Results

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Photo Credit:  Drag Photos

 

 

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Zappia resets national record in Sydney

John Zappia reaffirmed his title as the quickest Pro Slammer driver in the country following the second event of the 400 Thunder Series at Sydney Dragway on Saturday.

Zappia’s scorching second round run of 5.601 seconds was the quickest official pass ever in Pro Slammer, eclipsing his own 5.635 at the same track earlier this year and setting a new national record.

“We didn’t go looking for three hundredths,” Zappia said. “But we knew there was a bit left after the 63.”

With the East Coast Thunder event marking the first time Zappia has raced in Australia since his successful PDRA tour of the USA with Noonan Racing, the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro driver was keen to make a good impression.

The team qualified second with a 5.70 second run, despite being far from a clean pass.

“On my first run the car wheelstood pretty high and went too far to the right so I had to get off the throttle and come back for the next run,” Zappia said.

“Second qualifying session and the car still went right, hugging the centre line and hitting the rev limiter in second gear, but I was able to steer it back after quarter track for a 5.70 at 251mph. We lost about 5mph of speed from hitting the limiter.

“We did some adjustments for the third session and the car went straight but then we had an ignition fault cut the motor out.”

The Zappia team returned to the pit area to go over the electrical system with a fine tooth comb, eventually deciding on putting their old ignition system back on for the first round of racing, where Zappia took on fellow Western Australian Marty Dack.

There Zappia fired the first salvo of his day, with a 5.624 second run to drop his all time best Pro Slammer pass.

“I thought to myself, ‘that was pretty cool,’” a casual Zappia said. “It was running 206mph at half track, so it was making some power.”

Taking on tough Queenslander Ben Bray next, Zappia and the team went looking at the data to see if there were any more hundredths of a second they could discover.

“The 5.62 looked a bit weak in part of the run so we adjusted the clutch and aimed the car a bit better off the line. I had a great .038 light and it stayed in the groove for a 5.601, even losing the blower belt at the finish line so it only went 255mph.”

But in the semi finals, Zappia was again left to rue what might have been following an unlucky moment as a broken blower belt stopped the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro in its tracks against Paul Mouhayet.

“The blower belt didn’t even make it 30 feet before it broke off the engine,” a disappointed Zappia said. “The car launched the hardest it had launched all weekend, the data looked great – but that’s no good when your blower belt is under your wheelie bars.”

In fact, it was the third blower belt ruined in three runs for Zappia and he said the team will be looking for answers before they are next on track.

“In the first round it frayed an 11 run-old belt, we changed it for a new one, didn’t make it to the finish line the next round, and then didn’t even make it to the Christmas tree.

“We’re not sure what is behind the belt issue, maybe something is bent or a misalignment; we need to go through it all and find out why it started happening. Belts normally last 20 runs and then all of a sudden we can’t make one run.

“It was pretty frustrating, I can’t repeat what was said inside the cab! But that is the way it goes, you think you are on top of it, reliable and consistent, then have something like that goes wrong.”

Despite the semi final loss, the championship damage was minimised for Zappia, with incoming leader Gary Phillips missing East Coast Thunder, while Mouhayet lost to the USA’s Frankie Taylor in the final round.

Zappia wanted to sincerely thank his Perth crew members who rebuilt and maintained the race car in his absence during the recent tour of the US – Wilson, Frank, James, Lumpy, Kade, Jason, Ricky and anyone else who popped in to help the boys out.

The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team now return home to Perth Motorplex where they will test at the Prestige Lock Services Goldenstates this weekend.

“We are going into test mode to try and rectify the blower belt problem and we will be making some different adjustments to improve performance that we weren’t game to make during a championship round,” Zappia said.

“We will get our reliability sorted and then head to Willowbank for the next round of the championship on January 6.

“We haven’t let the lead get too far from our grasp, there is a long road to go in this championship yet.

“We are hoping to see lots of sponsors and supporters at the Goldenstates for the start of the Direct Mining and Industrial Summer Slam Series and the ANDRA Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Round 5.”

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