John Zappia and his Striker Monaro dominated the 2009 Westernationals last weekend at the Kwinana Motorplex, and with the bonus points on offer gained enough points in the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship to have one hand on his second successive Championship. In true John Zappia spirit, he won’t be relaxing, and will strive to win as many of the remaining three events as possible.
“For twenty years we have been trying to win this event at our home track” said Zap at the awards ceremony, “When I blew up the engine on the first qualifier pass, we all thought the bad luck was going to continue – in years past we have had some terrible bad luck. But the crew were fantastic, and we managed to get in the field and top qualify, and then follow up and take the final for the win”. A special thanks to all the crew, including friends and supporters who pitched in with cleaning up oil spray, dirty parts and general assistance around the pits. They all know who they are.
Zap now has 448 points, and takes a 128 point lead over fellow Western Australian racer Robin Judd on 320 points, followed by Gary Philips on 255 points, and Benny Bray on 253 points. Bonus points were awarded to racers for travelling the huge distance to Perth, and Zap picked up 150 points for the win and 8 points for Low ET. His 243.24mph run was equal High Speed with Benny Bray, but Benny secured the 8 points by completing that speed first over the event.
Qualifying on Saturday night was stunning and full of drama. Kapiris stunned the crowd with a 5.947 @ 241.93 first pass, and Zap’s run ended with a big bang at half track when the rods let go and lifted the blower. Unable to make the second qualifier, the Zappia Racing crew looked on as Benny Bray rattled off a clean 5.971 @ 243.24mph, and Robin Judd sat on the bump with a 6.443 @ 233.76 mph.
“We put in a spare engine that had a new Crow cams camshaft that had never run, and the crew were just amazing in their delivery. Everyone pitched in to repair the manifold, and adapt certain parts to the new engine. Plenty of Force Tools in the pit area for everyone to use made the job easier. We seem to strive on challenges, and I was a little unsure of how this engine would perform as it had a different cam profile that affected the tune”. With less than 10 minutes before the scheduled race start we still hadn’t started the motor. After a little hiccup with the timing we managed to start the car and set the timing. The car was quickly towed to the start line whilst John dressed into his race suit as he walked to the start line.
But Zap need not have worried, because he rattled off an amazing 5.946 @ 242.58 mph to pip Kaparis out of Top Qualifier position by one thousand of a second! The local crowd went wild, giving Zap a standing ovation on his return from the run. Stuff legends are made of.
Round one on Sunday night saw the Striker Monaro up against rookie Matt Able in the lenco drive Chevy, and what a race with Zap going around the outside for a win with a 5.973 @ 242.58mph to Matt’s personal best 6.218 @ 226.13mph.
Round two saw Zap up against danger man Deno Brejeski who is capable of a five second pass. But the Striker Monaro was too strong for the Sydney racer who’s 6.187 @ 234.37mph was no match for Zap’s 5.935 @ 242.58mph.
The final was all set for an awesome match up against two top crowd favourites in Perth – John Zappia and Peter Kapiris. The question was again asked “ Will we see a side by side 5 second pass tonight” But the race was all over in a second as Kapiris blew the tyres off on the hit and went sideways. In the left lane Zap bolted to a 5.935 @ 243.24mph straight pass to take the win and the event.
“I love it when a plan comes together” said a jubilant Zap afterwards, “This Striker Monaro is just so dominating and consistent now – four five second passes in a row, and all pretty much straight and true. That’s hard to beat. It is a pleasure to tune and set up according to the weather and track conditions. The Mickey Thompson tyres absolutely stuck to the Kwinana track that was so well prepared – many thanks to the Motorplex management team, ANDRA officials and track staff.”
“I think success breeds success in teams, and we certainly are strong at the moment. We see it in AFL and other team sports where a team breaks away from the rest and dominates. Our confidence is high, and our decision making is spot on for the conditions. It’s good for the sport and creates a vacuum for other teams to step up and provide exciting racing for the sponsors and fans as was evident at the Winters last year with several racers broke into the 5 second bracket.”
“It’s also a response to such brilliant support from Striker Crushing and Screening, Fuchs Lubricants, and our other sponsors and supporters”.
“We stay in Perth for the next two local events, before heading over to Willowbank for Round 6 of Top Doorslammer at the Tin Tops”.
Zappia seeks a win at the Westernationals
The Westernationals is Western Australia’s premier drag racing event, and local hero John Zappia is keen to cap off his recent super consistent form with a win in Top Doorslammer. The Striker Monaro leads the 2008/2009 Championship after four rounds – two of which have been washed out due to bad weather at WSID. This fifth Round is a pivotal event for several teams and could go a long way to deciding the championship.
“I have never won a Westernationals” said Zap this week, “The whole Zappia Racing team are fired up about the prospect of winning this event on our home track. I would say that our team is in the best position ever to win, since we returned to racing with this HQ Monaro almost six years ago this month”.
“We now have the Striker Monaro so consistent, even a bracket racer would be happy with the times. Our chassis and engine combo’s are sorted, and we once again start the process of finding one percent improvements to allow consistency and progression to happen together as we race.”
The field of nine cars in this weekends event means the pressure to qualify is not as intense, but chasing vital championship points is on every team’s agenda. Winners gain extra points for traveling to the remote city of Perth, so a good performance is rewarded with big gains in the championship points race.
“It takes around six seconds to complete our races in ANDRA Championship Drag Racing, and there is not a lot a driver can do on those runs to go quicker, other than keeping the car straight, getting a good reaction time and shifting at the optimum RPM, and also the ability to recover from incidents if and when they occur. Most of the skill in Top Doorslammer racing is the hard work in the shop weeks before a meeting, the decision making on what set-up to use and engineering cunning. Zappia Racing specialises in all those elements, and that is what has made us champions and hard to beat. Our crew are just amazing with their dedication and depth of knowledge”.
“The weather might be a factor this weekend. I am not sure there will be super quick times like earlier in the season, but having said that we have a number of tunes in our database for poor weather and difficult track conditions. We also have the added bonus of knowing the Kwinana Motorplex track better than any of our competitors”.
Qualifying will start on the Saturday night at 6pm, with three chances for teams to get in the field and establish their position in the field. Top qualifying in the field allows a team to gain extra points, and get a first round match up against the slowest qualifier in the field.
“We have a good record of top qualifying, and our process of getting to that point in three runs works well. Despite the low numbers in the field, I am confident all of us will put on a fantastic show for the fans this weekend. The rivalry is strong between all the drivers and that makes for a better contest making the Top Doorslammer bracket so popular with the crowd”.
“We are proud to race for our big sponsor Striker Crushing and Screening and bring them into the winners circle again. Craig Pedley and his team have given us so much in sponsorship, mentoring, and association with success – it has rubbed off on everybody in the team. Fuchs lubricants continue to give us great products and support, and our other sponsors and supporters are right behind us”.
We welcome all sponsors, supporters and fans to come down to the pits and have a look, take photos or just to chat with the team. A full range of merchandise is available from the merchandise trailer.