John Zappia went back to his match racing roots on a tour of central and northern Australia over the past few weeks in the Fuchs Monaro.
With the Grudge Kings event at Sydney Dragway rained out, Zappia instead focused on the ‘northern swing’ that accompanies the opening two rounds of the ANDRA Summit Sportsman Series.
The Desert Nationals at Alice Springs Inland Dragway was first on the list, a unique track that is one the few venues at altitude in Australia, coming in at 1788 feet above sea level.
While Zappia holds the current track record for Pro Slammers at Alice Springs, this event proved tricky as the team tried to find a tune up that would work on the unique surface.
“Alice Springs is a track where you have to walk a razor’s edge, it can definitely hold good times as we have seen in the past but the window for an ideal run is very small,” Zappia said. “Along with the adjustments to the tune up to run at altitude, it makes for a challenge for crew chiefs. This time we weren’t able to master it to reset our track record, but we hope the fans enjoyed the big burnouts and wheelstands because we were trying our hardest out there.”
It wasn’t all bad news for Zappia, with a 3-1 match race victory against the Northern Territory’s Matt Abel, who joined Zappia for the northern swing.
The Fuchs team next moved on to Darwin’s Hidden Valley Drag Strip for the NT Nationals, again taking on Abel but still struggling to get back to the five second zone the team is known for.
“The track looked great at Darwin and the conditions weren’t too hot or humid, but again we were blowing the tyres off on the line and had some massive tyre shake,” Zappia said. “We got down to a 6.39 at 248mph, which showed the power was there but we just couldn’t get it to the ground.
“Matt had the local knowledge to get down with a 6.28 and we tied two all for the match racing.”
While there were no record runs or championship wins, Zappia said events such as the Desert Nationals and the NT Nationals were invaluable for the team to stay at the forefront of the Australian Pro Slammer scene.
“We learned stuff and we were developing the tune on the engine, we just didn’t get the clutch right,” he said. “It would have been nice to have some other cars to benchmark against, because sometimes it is hard to tell if there is something wrong with us or the track is just tricky. We had two great weekends though, meeting lots of fans and making sure that the Fuchs Monaro is Australia’s most well travelled Pro Slammer.
“Now it’s time to go right through the Fuchs Monaro and we will get ready for the Perth test and tunes in October and then we head off to Sydney for the East Coast Nationals in November.
“As well as our naming partner Fuchs, we’d like to thank Dananni Hotshots, Crow Cams and Muscle Car Warehouse for being right behind us.”