Reigning Top Doorslammer Champion John Zappia is back in the winning groove after taking out Round 7 of the ANDRA Pro Series over the weekend at Hidden Valley Drag Strip in Darwin, Northern Territory. The win comes on the back of wins at the X Champs in Sydney, and the Winternationals at Willowbank that has placed him in a position with the best possible chance of another back-to-back Championship.
“We had another great weekend of racing” said a jubilant Zappia, “The Striker Crushing/Fuchs Lubricants Monaro is really on fire at the moment, running very sweet and predictable and the crew and I have a handle on the car at this level of performance”.
“We really could not have asked for more – top qualifier; lowest ET, quickest mph, event win, and the track record! Apart from a broken valve spring, we had a super reliable event on what was a terrific track”.
Qualifying on the Friday night was between ten competitors – two local Darwin based teams and the rest travelling from various states around Australia. It’s a long trek to Australia’s most northern capital city, but the locals were out in force with their attendance and great hospitality.
Zappia was the only driver to break the five second barrier in qualifying with a 5.978 @ 246.89mph, and a 5.917 @ 251.96mph. The third qualifier was called off due to an oil-down in the braking area late in the evening. Local driver Mathew Able managed second in his 57 Chev with a 6.08 @ 250.83mph, with Bishop and Gregorini close behind.
“I pedaled on both those passes as the car was moving around a lot and rattling the tyres. The track was much better than we thought – our sixty foot times were slow, so we stepped the car up for eliminations”.
Round 1 saw Zappia 5.845 defeat archrival Grant O-Rourke 6.686, while other winners were Kapiris 5.976 def Gregorini 6.021; Bishop 5.980 def Priolo 6.125; and Abel 5.977 def Dack 7.070.
“That was a great run – sixty foot time was better, and the 254.14 mph was a personal best for the team. We are making good horsepower and finally learnt how to make it stick reliably to the track”.
Semi finals were two great match ups with the quickest cars in Australia represented. Stuart Bishop in his auto Camaro 5.950 took out Abel 6.219, and Zappia 5.901 took out Kapiris 6.005.
That left a stunning final to be run between the top two championship runners – the “top end” fans could not have asked for a better race.
“Another straight pass on a track that just kept getting better. We gave it even more clutch for the final hoping to run another “five eight”.
Unfortunately Stuart Bishop had difficulties on the start line with his trans brake not holding and pulling him through for a red light and giving Zappia the win with a 5.877 pass.
“The Crusher ran like a dream in the final. I was not sure what was going on the other lane while staging. In the end I just ran my own race off my tree and came up with the win. It was a great event for our team and all our sponsors who have made this possible”.
Zappia takes his lead in the Championship out a little with three more rounds to go – the Spring Nationals in Adelaide, and Australian Nationals in Sydney both in October and the Nationals in Calder in December.7
“The dedication of our crew and supporters who give so much depth to this team is showing with the reliability getting much better compared to earlier in the season. We were chasing regular five sevens and five eights earlier to stay ahead of the pack, and that took some time to get out head around how to achieve that. We believe we can go quicker with some more development, and keep up our winning run.
Also enjoying the Darwin event was John’s nephew Brodie who won the Junior Dragster event at his first meeting outside the Motorplex. The event was in a Chicago Shootout format with every racer having three qualifiers and three eliminations with the best-performed racers going through to the final. Brodie was up against current No 1 JD driver Brayden Naylor and won with a 0.032 hole shot to a 0.123 light. This made for a first ever Zappia double and added to the team enjoyment of the top end trip. Brodie now heads to Alice Springs for the Sportsman Series round and hope to continue his good form.