John Zappia has closed the gap in the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship with a win at Adelaide International Raceway’s Southern Thunder event, putting the pressure on Paul Mouhayet ahead of the final two rounds of the series.
In an unusual weekend of racing at Adelaide International Raceway that saw late format changes and a shift to eighth mile racing due to high winds, Zappia’s Fuchs/Dananni Hot Shots Holden Monaro was able to defeat Mouhayet’s Ford Mustang in a close fought final round.
Zappia began his weekend as he finished it, with the quickest times of testing before getting into race day.
“Southern Thunder was a strange event for sure, we tested over 1000 feet which is the normal distance at Adelaide International Raceway and ended up on an eighth mile (660 feet),” Zappia said.
“The first test run was a 5.15, straight down the track. After that sighting pass we put the normal timing curve back in and put the horsepower back up. The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro left hard with a .987 60 foot time and it really got going in second gear, moving a metre left out of the groove and a metre right. We ran a 4.98 on that pass but I guess the important number was the eighth mile time of 3.89, when we were told we would be reducing the race distance because of the wind.
“Most of the teams were struggling to make a full pull but we knew the track would get better as the event went on.”
A format change for Saturday’s racing saw a test session followed by a single race round and then the finals. With Mouhayet on a solo run thanks to his championship lead, Zappia had to make it to the final the hard way, taking on fellow Western Australian Marty Dack.
“In the interests of the teams’ safety we were racing on an eighth mile. We pretty much left it the same as we run it on the quarter mile, we just leaned out the fuel system a little earlier,” Zappia explained. “The good news was the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro was responding to all the changes we were making, with no tyre shake.
“We went 3.85/196mph against Marty for the win and the time was quick enough to get us into the final round against Paul.”
With an opportunity to claw back points, Zappia needed the win light in yet another titanic match up between the pair.
“Paul left first by two hundredths but we knew there was plenty of bite in the first part of the Adelaide International Raceway surface. We were 2.54 to the 330 feet mark which is only four hundredths off our best. We drove around Paul in the middle of the track and crossed the line with a 3.799/196mph to his 3.86/206mph.”
With another 400 Thunder trophy in hand, Zappia is in a surprisingly familiar position despite his 10 national championships in Top Doorslammer and one win in Pro Slammer – as an underdog. Zappia trails Mouhayet by 24 points.
“We’ve been here before, there have been seasons where we have been down 70 points on Peter Kapiris or even four points down on Robin Judd until the final round of the Winternationals. As long as there is a chance, we still fight it out until the end.
“This championship is Moits Racing’s and Paul’s to lose and ours to gain.”
Zappia plans to test some new ideas at Perth Motorplex’s Powerpalooza this Saturday, April 7 before heading to Nitro Thunder at Sydney Dragway in May for the penultimate round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Series.
Get down to Motorplex this weekend for an exciting final meeting which includes drag racing, burnouts, a demolition derby and speedway. Drag Racing starts at 10am and runs until 7.00pm, so get there early to watch all the drag racing action before moving across to see all the speedway action later in the night.
Top Photo courtesy Hayley Turns/Outlaw Images.