The Home Group WA 45th Westernationals were run this weekend at the Perth Motorplex under the IHRA sanctioned 400 Thunder Australian Professional Drag Racing Series and John Zappia stamped his authority in the Pro Slammer class by re-setting the Australian National Record at 5.683, getting to the final, and maintaining his lead in the series.
Qualifying on Friday night between thirteen teams saw Zappia Top Qualify with an off the trailer 5.71 @ 252.96mph in his Fuchs HQ Monaro, from Mark Belleri on 5.84 in the Holden Trade Club Monaro, and Grant O’Rourke 5.89 in the O’Rourke Motorsport Camaro. Bump spot for the field was a modest 6.217 as the top three teams seemed to be two and three tenths quicker than the rest of the field.
“The Fuchs Monaro ran well in that first round” said the champ Zappia, “The car ran dead straight with no pedals. I think we may have overcome our niggling tyre shake problem that has bothered us for a few seasons. The car could run a five eight with a pedal, but now that is fixed the Crusher will run really quick as long as we can keep on top of the tyre shake issues ”.
“Second qualifier saw us shut down on the start line with a tree malfunction. We went to the back of the field, re-fuelled and ran a 5.76 @ 252mph, with the engine a little hot. We stepped up the tune for Q3 and the car did a huge wheel stand towards the centre line – I had to pedal, correct and run it out the back for a 6.01”.
The teams serviced the cars overnight and were welcomed with brilliant weather for the day in Perth. Round one matchup for Zap was Paul Canulli in the roots powered Duster featuring an automatic gearbox.
“We went back to the 5.71 tune up from the day before, and like clockwork the car went 5.707 @ 253.86mph to defeat Cannuli’s 9.11 and go through to the semi final”.
Other round winners were Chapman in a hole shot 6.09 win over Priolo 6.08; O’Rourke 6.19 took out Dack 6.95; and Belleri took the gift win when Kapiris shut down after the burnout.
In the semi finals Zappia ran an incredible 5.683 @ 253.76mph to defeat Chapman 6.015, who got off it early and possibly missed out on his first five second pass. O’Rourke 6.32 managed the win against Belleri in an untidy pass that saw both cars off the noise by 1,000 feet.
“Incredible run really – we ran 3.75 to half-track (3.74 PB) and PB 203.28mph, but a strong second half and huge mph speed of 253.76. That was identical to our previous PB 5.683 remarkably, set here at the Perth Motorplex. The previous run also reset the Perth Motorplex top MPH record beating our previous record of 253.52 with the 253.86mph”.
Congrats to the Chapman Brothers– they are getting a handle on their new car and are very professional in their engineering. Certainly a team to watch out for in the future.”
“We left the tune alone for the final up against Grant O’Rourke, and after a strong burnouts we faced each other at the tree. On the hit the Crusher backfired the blower burst panel and I knew it was all over. O’Rourke took the well-deserved win with a 5.942 and notch up another win against us”.
“Grant and I have been racing each other for years – back in the Ravenswood days in the old Zap’s Rat, and his tidy little Torana. We have a strong rivalry, and respect for each other and he is a tough competitor. Pro Slammer is a tough class – just look at today’s field, all trying they’re hardest to crack the magic formula and run regular fives. It really is very complicated and difficult - and we suffered a rare mechanical failure this weekend”.
Back in the pits the Zappia Racing crew removed the rocker covers on the 502 Hemi and quickly saw the problem – a failed valve train component. IHRA officials conducted engine checks to verify compliance for the Australian National Record with the signoff completed satisfactorily.
“Well I guess the perfect weekend was not to be – but that’s drag racing. We are happy with the overall result – and are still leading the Thunder 400 Pro Slammer Championship”.
“Congratulations to the Dannani Hotshots sponsored Stuart Moresby who won the Competition Eliminator Bracket. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it a double celebration for Danni.”
“Our next event is the West Coast Nitro meeting on the 19th and 20th February at the Perth Motorplex where we will be testing some new components in readiness for the remainder of the current Drag Racing season”
Photos courtesy: Thunder400/Phil Luyer, High Octane Photos
Thunder 400 Pro Slammer Championship Points