John Zappia has launched his Summer Slam championship defence in strong fashion, winning the opening round of the season on November 7 at Perth Motorplex.
Zappia began qualifying with a tyre-shaking 5.91 pass from the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro, which was enough to put the team in second position in the field.
“It started to rattle on the one-two gear change and shook pretty hard into second, so it required a bigger pedal to settle the car down,” he said.
On the compulsory qualifying run, an A-arm track locator broke in the rear end, making the handling of the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro tricky in the braking area.
“The car was a bit fishtaily in the top end, and then I could hear the tyres rubbing on the body coming back on the return road and realised the diff was moving side to side,” Zappia explained.
Zappia wasn’t the only one having dramas on the day. The field was shaken up early when last year’s championship runner-up Daniel Gregorini crashed in qualifying and Mark Chapman withdrew with engine problems before eliminations.
“We might be rivals when we race, but you never want to see other teams hurting,” Zappia said. “Daniel has a great team behind him and I hope he can return to racing sooner rather than later.”
After studying information from the Motec data logger, Zappia took on Ryan Moresby’s Dananni Hotshots Ford Falcon in the first round. The team finally found a more representative run with a 5.70 pass to Ryan’s 7.66.
“We changed the B&J gearbox ratio so we could settle the car down and stop it shaking,” Zappia said. “Against Ryan it was a little soft on the take off but it was nice and straight and made it through with no shake, so we were happy with that.”
The run put Zappia into the A Final, where he would take on Ryan’s brother Stu in the Dananni Hotshots Studebaker. Stu got the jump on the start line and led Zappia early, but got loose shortly after passing the Christmas tree and had to get off the throttle, allowing Zappia to rocket through for a 5.77 win.
“We left the tune up alone after the elimination round. The track wasn’t there to try for 5.6s and with Stu capable of running into the fives we couldn’t risk slipping up. We made it through the early part of the run but then in high gear it felt a bit lazy. It looks like we dropped a cylinder so it was lazy in the top end, but other than that it was a good pass, and it was great for our sponsors Dananni Hotshots to have a 1-2-3 finish for their cars.”
The positive start to the Summer Slam season has Zappia eager for the second round on November 28. He said he looked forward to some more cars returning to the field for the coming events.
“We are really fortunate to have the Summer Slam Series in our backyard. Western Australia is the only place where you can go heads-up Top Doorslammer racing in Australia right now. I know this has been a tough year for everyone but I really hope we can see more teams getting back on to the track.
“We’re happy to have Motec back on board for this season, joining our network of sponsors and team partners. They have been very supportive of what we do and we are looking forward to them being a part of our expanding team as we add our radial street car.”
Our next event with be Round 2 of the Summer Slam Series on the 28th November at the Perth Motorplex.
Photos thanks to Phil Luyer, Roger Moore and Paul Carey