Night of Fire

Zappia extends lead in Summer Slam Series at Night of Fire

John Zappia returned to the winner’s circle of the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam Series on Saturday night at Perth Motorplex.

The Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer enjoyed a welcome return to consistency, with all four runs in the five second zone at the January 23 Night of Fire.

“At the end of a tough last meeting we went 5.76 and everything looked okay, so we just went right through the motor and put a bit more fuel in the tune-up for qualifying,” Zappia said. “We came off the trailer and hit a 5.77 to top qualify, even though we were being conservative. We thought the track might have taken some time to come back around after the Motorvation car show but it was better than we expected.”

The compulsory qualifying session saw the team add some more clutch to keep up with the track, but Zappia said one again the track was exceeding predictions.

“We actually slowed down a bit and went 5.80, so we could see it was time to get aggressive for the elimination round. Our 5.77 top qualified and that gave us a bye run where we could experiment a little.”

Zappia changed to some angrier ratios in the B&J gearbox, and was immediately rewarded with a 5.72/254mph despite the hot and humid air conditions. The run landed him a place in the A Final against Mark Chapman, who was having a strong night in his Plymouth Fury.

“We left our tune-up the same for the final, we certainly didn’t want to do anything silly against Mark who was running very consistently,” Zappia said. “Mark cut a light and we were chasing, but we covered the ground quickly and our 5.71 defeated his 6.01.”

A relieved Zappia said that the only maintenance needed during the night was some welding to repair a cracked exhaust header. He also continued to adapt to shifting gears manually, after dropping the auto-shift device earlier this season.

“As a driver I am still short shifting first gear, which is perhaps costing us two or three hundredths of a second,” he said. “It’s just a case of me getting used to shifting manually again and waiting a little longer before hitting that button.

“That said, our slowest run for the day was 5.80 and our quickest was 5.71, so I feel like we are getting a more reliable and consistent combination once again.”

The victory further extended Zappia’s lead in the Summer Slam Series. He now has 360 points, followed by Stuart Moresby with 320 and Kelvin Lyle with 305.

Zappia next heads to the Super Sportsman Showdown on February 13, where he will be testing in Top Comp with some new Noonan Race Engineering cylinder heads.

“We’re excited to get some new heads on to the car, as our old ones have been repaired several times,” he explained. “This should make tuning a little easier as it will give us the same compression in every cylinder. We will use the February 13 race as a chance to test and tune before round five of Summer Slam at the Westernationals.”

Photos: Phil Luyer High Octane Photos.   Ian Moore











Zappia takes Summer Slam championship lead

A B-Final win at the Nitro Slam proved enough to leapfrog John Zappia into the lead of the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam Series on Saturday at Perth Motorplex.

Zappia overcame a series of gremlins on a day where his hard-working crew of volunteers was put to the test physically and mentally as they turned the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer around.

“On the first run the car had an electrical miss that we chased back to some leads, but the second run was more dramatic when we backfired the supercharger,” he said. “The car left well but when I hit third gear it went pop and we rolled through for a 5.99.”

Zappia qualified fourth and faced Stu Moresby in the elimination round, one of the drivers he needed to get past in the championship.

“We couldn’t find any obvious cause for the backfire, so we added more fuel to the tune-up and got back out there with the team working really hard to repair the damage. We needed to beat Stu to move up in the championship and when he had tyre shake it looked like luck was back on our side. Then ‘boom’ again, backfiring the burst panels on the blower!”

During the run, another backfire slowed Zappia to a 6.08, though fortunately he took the win as Moresby was unable to recover from his woes early in his run.

“This time when we pulled the motor apart we could see the number three cylinder spark plug was burned and so we ended up changing the piston, the rings, gudgeon pin and a couple of valves in the head, not to mention the burst panels. The guys got the supercharger back on and we were back into the staging lanes just in time for the final against Mark Chapman.”

Finally there was relief for the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers crew as Zappia bolted to a 5.76/253mph, which would stand as low ET of the class.

“For an event where we had to thrash the whole way, we were pretty happy in the end,” Zappia said. “Kelvin Lyle got the A-Final win with his Zappia Racing (ZR1) engine package so to have two Zappia Racing motors wining both the A and B final and that was pretty cool.”

The point score has now become one of the closest in years, with Zappia leading on 265, followed by Kelvin Lyle (255), Stu Moresby (250), Ryan Moresby (250) and Daniel Gregorini (245).

“Halfway through the season it’s anyone’s championship to win. We’ve had three events with three different winners, so the competition is as hot as it has ever been.”

The next round of the Summer Slam Series takes place on January 23 at the Night of Fire featuring Jet Dragsters.

Photos: Jay Treasure  Ian Moore Phil Reeve