Sydney – Australia’s largest city, was host to some of the most exciting ANDRA Pro Series Top Doorslammer drag racing last weekend at the Nitro Championships – and John Zappia managed to knock out Championship leader Judd, and go on to the finals with Maurice Fabietti. The championship race has now hotted up with one round to go.
“It was a very interesting meeting” said the current National Champion John Zappia, “The weather and track temp were major factors all weekend, and selecting the right set-up for each race was critical for all teams”.
“We were pleased to make the final after the Striker “Crusher” Monaro almost missed qualifying. I take my hat off to Fabietti for winning the final and such a good comeback after a major crash – I know personally how much effort that required after crashing Zap’s Rat in Round 1 this season, and getting it fixed for the next round”.
Qualifying started on Friday night on a cooling track, and Zap blew the tyres off in the Crusher and rolled through for a 10.993 – tenth in the field of fourteen. Judd managed a respectable 6.095 to head the field, and Phillips was the only other racer to make a six second pass.
Saturday’s qualifying saw Zap repeat Friday night’s performance by over powering the track, putting pressure on the team to get into the field to keep his championship hopes alive. A 6.128 @ 241.93mph pass in the last qualifier was enough to qualify fourth, and set up a first round match up with Belleri in the Camaro.
Judd top qualified with a stunning 5.848, followed by the roots powered Willy of Mifsud on 6.050, and Fabietti on 6.076. Bump spot for the meeting was 6.396, with Deno sneaking into eigth spot.
“It took a while for us to match the clutch to the track in qualifying, but the data looked good and we were set for our elimination runs with more confidence”.
Sundays racing started in round one with Zap running over the young Mark Belleri with a 5.885 @ 243.77mph to the Camaro’s 6.147 @ 230.1mph. Other winners were Judd (5.870), Bishop (5.995) and Fabietti (5.942).
Round two saw another tough match up between Zap and Judd – possibly a championship decider. But the race was over before it started with Judd rolling the beams and red lighting.
“I was so determined to win this race – we had hotted up the Crusher to make sure we had the power, and it just took off and spent a lot of time on the back wheels on the run. I sit pretty low in the Striker Monaro and when it lifts the front wheels the view is pretty exciting. The 5.841 @ 245.18mph was quick enough for low ET of the meeting, giving me vital points to catch Juddy. This was a very satisfying win for all the team”.
Fabietti (5.873) put away Bishop (6.265) in the other semi to set up a killer final between the two Monaro’s.
“The track temp started to go away as we waited in the staging lanes, and after Fab beat me on the tree the Crusher shaked and rattled and I had to fight the wheel and use up most of the track to try and catch him – but he had the perfect setup for the run and his 5.946 @ 245.76 was too good for my 6.043 @ 241.97mph”
The results of the final opened up the championship for Fabietti, who is now on 500 points and brought Zappia to 526 points – 9 points behind Judd.
“This sets up one of the most interesting Winternationals ever in Top Doorslammer, with the championship decided at that event. We are confident we have what it takes to make it three championships in a row – but as we know in racing, anything can happen on the day, and on any of the runs”.
Zap takes control of Karcher Tri-State Shootout
The quarter mile cross-country race for $20,000 has a new front runner in defending ANDRA Top Doorslammer champion, John Zappia.
As high pressure as their cleaning products; the Karcher Tri-State Shootout is a 3-race swing that started at the Perth Motorplex in February. Points are awarded for progressing through race day eliminations.
In a sporting gesture, all teams agreed to split the $20,000 payday between the top 3 points earners.
Coming in to the penultimate round at Sydney Dragway’s Nitro Champs, Zappia was tied at the top with fellow West Aussie Robin Judd. The two met in the semi finals, where Judd’s red light rendered the points lead in the favour of the Striker Crushing and Screening Monaro.
Zappia failed to extend his points lead in the final, where he struggled to get a grip on the cooling track. Local hero Maurice Fabietti had no such trouble in the other lane, moving in to Karcher Tri-State contention with his third consecutive 5 second pass.
Proof of how focused Zappia is on winning the cash was clear from the moment he removed his helmet after his final round loss.
“That’s OK,” He told the OneHD television crew, “Tyre shake cost us that race, but we are 20 points ahead in the Karcher Tri-State Shootout now.”
Only 30 points separate the top 3 racers going in to the final round in June, the Castrol Edge Winternationals. With 100 points up for grabs on race day, teams will have to bring their A-game if they want to be crowned the inaugural Karcher Tri-State Shootout Champions.
Zappia lurking at Nitro Champs
John Zappia and his Zappia Racing Team are in Sydney for the Nitro Champs at Sydney Dragway this weekend, and is dangerously lurking in second place in the ANDRA Pro Series Top Doorslammer Championship.
Fresh off some very quick passes in Perth, and with a Top Comp Championship Trophy in the bag, professional drag racer John Zappia is poised to make his move.
“We all know when competition is even between competitors, that it’s harder to defend a lead than it is to come from behind” said veteran John Zappia with a smile, “The last few seasons we had a performance advantage – so it was easier to lead and win. But the field is close in performance at the moment and anyone in the final eight could win the event. Gerry and I are full time professional drag racers and we work all day every day on the Striker Monaro at the dedicated Zappia Racing Workshop, and we are constantly trying and learning things to test to improve performance. Sometimes they work and other times they don’t.
“We went 5.814 in Perth at the Nitro Funny Car meeting – quicker than our ANDRA Top Doorslammer National Record, and we beat Juddy in the first round with a killer 0.991 sixty foot time. The pressure is on us more at the local Top Comp meetings, because blown alky is so competitive you need to go five tenths or better under the index to get a win. It seems Top Comp is “on fire” at the moment, with some very exciting racing and teams pushing the envelope and digging deep for innovation. Pressure is an amazing motivator!”
John Zappia will present Craig Pedley’s “Crusher” Striker Monaro for competition and compete with seventeen other Top Doorslammer teams trying to first of all get into the eight car field – then go through three rounds of serious competition.
“While the numbers are encouraging, it really is a four car race in this Championship between West Aussie quick man Judd, myself, New South Welshman Fabietti on a comeback after a serious crash, and young Queenslander Benny Bray”.
“Really we have been combining consistency with experimentation in our local Perth Motorplex rounds. We can dial in a 5.8 tune up – and the Crusher will do it consistently. We have enough data to do that. But I am never happy without improving, experimenting, trying new things – and our engine program is moving in the right direction for even more horsepower. A “five seven” is close – with the right conditions”.
“We know our team has depth – all our volunteer guys do it with a passion, and we have a mixture of “old hands” who have 20 odd years of experience, and the “new turks” who are as keen as mustard to make their mark”.
With two rounds to go in the Top Doorslammer Championship, it will be so close between the top teams and often it is attitude, confidence and the one percent details that make the difference between winning and losing.
“Our confidence is high at the moment in the team. It has not always been that way this season – this is a tough motorsport, and it is very easy to get lost in the tune and setup of the car and go off on tangents. But recently we hit the winning node, and we can feel the confidence and energy amongst the crew”.
“Sydney is a good track for us. It was the venue for our memorable “first in the fives” run in Zap’s Rat, and the track and weather suite us very well. We will be relying on brilliant lubricants from Fuchs to keep things going – our rear bearing wear is negligible at the moment with the good oil, and the Mickey Thompson tyre performance is matching our hard hitting tune. We are seeing some interesting data with clutch settings and wheel speed out of the hole”.
“You may see us start to get aggressive in the sixty foot area of the track – we have always been fairly lazy in that area. It has been a twenty year strategy to built engines with massive torque and gear accordingly. It is in that area we are building confidence. The new Crusher chassis built by SCS Race Cars is just superb, and gives us confidence with more aggressive gearing and clutch settings”.
Qualifying for the Nitro Champs will commence at 6:25pm Friday 30th April with the first qualifier – a chance for teams to stamp their mark on the event. More qualifying starts from 3pm on Saturday 1st May with Round 2, and Round 3 from 6pm. Eliminations begin from 12pm on Sunday 1st May with Round 1, Round 2 from 3pm, and the finals from 4.40pm.
Sponsors, supporters and fans are welcome to come to the pit area and watch the crew in action and purchase merchandise and souvenirs or just to chat to John and the team.