2019_Nitros_Top

Zappia back in winner’s circle at Sydney Dragway

A ray of hope remains for John Zappia in the 2018/19 400 Thunder Pro Slammer championship after he won Nitro Thunder at Sydney Dragway on Saturday.

Zappia defeated Paul Mouhayet in a crowd-pleasing final, running a 5.65 to not only take the victory but also set low ET of the event.

While the pace of the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro was on point for the final, the strongest performance came from the Zappia Racing crew, who needed to thrash in the pits after some minor damage in the second round.

“Our first test pass and our first round pass were both a bit messy, but we got the first round win and even a low ET for the round with a 5.83 as everyone else struggled with the conditions,” Zappia said.

“For the second round we changed some ratios in the B&J gearbox to maximise on the conditions and we went 5.74/250mph. That speed seemed down and sure enough when we checked the Noonan engine in the pits we found a burnt spark plug and a burnt piston due to a lean condition in the tune up.

“We needed to thrash to get the cylinder head off and put another CP Carrillo piston in. The crew had already worked their butts off through the day but they were like clockwork in getting us ready for the final.

“Time was against us and we didn’t even have the chance to set the tappets on one side and warm up the motor before we had to be in the staging lanes for the final. We got into the lanes in time for the final and thank Paul and his crew for giving us the time to be ready for start-up before starting their car!

“I had to just rev it up and go for it. My reaction time was a little slow, with our thrash just a few minutes earlier still on my mind. But the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro made it through first gear clean and we were able to get the win.”

The run did get a little wild in the braking area for Zappia.

“I hit a few bumps and then realised I was in Paul’s lane after the finish line! I drove back into my lane to get out of his way and could finally calm down to absorb what had just happened.

“Paul came over and congratulated me and I got the good news about our 5.65. We had all been so busy just trying to turn the car around and once it all happened there was just as much relief as excitement.”

After taking the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro to a photo shoot at Muscle Car Warehouse, the team loaded up to return to Perth. With just one round remaining in the championship – the Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway – Zappia said the focus was on bringing home the event win and using the cool winter conditions to improve on recent performances and get better consistency.

“The gap has closed up a little bit in the points (-61) and while it would still take a miracle to win the championship we are going to give it our best shot,” he said.

“We will go to the Winternationals hoping to win and end the season on a high for our sponsors and supporters. We need to win the meeting and get low ET and hope that Paul either doesn’t qualify or goes out first round. It’s a tall order, with so many top Pro Slammers entered, but not impossible.”

Top photo: cacklingpipes.com

IMG_0693 IMG_0694

IMG_0695 IMG_0697 IMG_0698 IMG_0702 IMG_0700 IMG_0704 IMG_0707 IMG_0708 IMG_0710 IMG_0711 IMG_0713 IMG_0715 IMG_0716 IMG_0717 IMG_0719 IMG_0722 IMG_0724 IMG_0725 IMG_0726 IMG_0727 IMG_0729 IMG_0730 IMG_0731

IMG_0734

IMG_0732

IMG_0738

IMG_0735

IMG_0689

Winning the only option for Zappia

John Zappia is approaching the penultimate round of the 2018/19 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship with an understanding that nothing short of winning every round will give him the chance of a 12th national title.

Sydney Dragway’s Nitro Thunder will be a make-or-break event for the veteran driver, whose Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro currently sits second in the points behind New South Welshman Paul Mouhayet.

With just two events left in the series to claw back the 85 point difference, Zappia is leaving nothing on the table.

“I think the car is fresher than it has been for a while,” he said.

“The summer testing we did in Perth showed a few weak links we had and we have basically replaced everything that needed replacing on the car from front to back.

“We are coming to Nitro Thunder with two new Noonan engines and two older engines for spares, along with a four-speed B&J Transmission plus two older three-speeds.”

It was approximately 18 months ago that Zappia ran his personal best time at Sydney Dragway of 5.601 seconds and he would love to be able to return to those performances.

“We probably should have been able to improve from that number since then, but we have been trying lots of different ways to go faster, plus you are always at the mercy of the weather and track conditions,” Zappia said.

“I’d say the track will be pretty good this weekend and we’ve found that the Sydney surface suits the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro better than Perth so we are looking forward to seeing what numbers we can put on the readout boards.”

The Pro Slammer championship is very much on the line this weekend, with Zappia aware that only wins will do.

“Paul needs to make some mistakes and we need to not make any,” he said.

“Paul is in the box seat for the championship right now and it is his to lose. We can win both events but we still need other results to fall our way.”

There will be nine entries in total for the Pro Slammer field including not just championship rivals Zappia and Mouhayet, but also Victor Bray, Ben Bray, Michelle Davies, Geoff Gradden, Steven Ham, Mark Hinchelwood and Emilio Spinozzi.

Teams will compete using the ‘all run format’ which means all nine teams will be on track three times on Saturday.

Fans can find full event information at www.sydneydragway.com.au.

Photo: cacklingpipes.com

59168526_10156463771203869_5183054056209252352_o