Hidden Valley Drag Strip in the remote northern city of Darwin hosted Round 1 of the new Australian ANDRA Championship Series, and what a show it was! Huge crowds turned out to watch Top Fuel for the first time, Top Alcohol and Top Doorslammer racing and the buzz around Darwin was high during and after the event as fans turned out in force to watch the action.
Reigning back-to-back 8 times Top Doorslammer Champion John Zappia was top qualifier for the event, but was eliminated in the semi-final when the track went away and he dramatically grazed the wall.Paul Cannuli in the roots powered Duster came out winner for the event, holding his first ANDRA Top Doorslammer Gold Christmas tree aloft.
“It was one of the best drag racing meetings we have been to,” said an enthusiastic Zappia, “We would have liked the win, but that didn’t happen – but we got enough points to stay in the running for the championship. We encourage competition and Grant O-Rourke proved he could step up this weekend, and Cannuli was persistent to the end – and that was great for racing”.
Zappia set the pace in the Fuchs Lubricants Monaro in early qualifying with a 5.791 @ 250.74mph off the trailer to lead the field, ahead of O’Rourke on 5.866 @ 247.02mph. Like a bracket car – Zappia ran a 5.781 @ 250.97 in Q2 to slightly better the Q1 result and re-set the Darwin track record for TD.
“On both runs I had to pedal the car, so there was more in it if the track stayed there. Unfortunately the Zappia Racing Crew discovered a crack in the tri-drive that drives the magneto, fuel pump and oil pump. We could have run Q3, but we decided to sit it out and repair the drive. We had a nervous moment as O’Rourke ran a five seven and got really close to our top qualifying time. It was great to see Grant run those numbers and prove to others that it is possible with hard work and persistence”.
Q3 saw O-Rourke improve to a 5.794 @ 249.53mph and Belleri third with 5.922 @ 234.29mph, but the rest of the field were all six second times. Bump spot ended up 6.105, with surprise non-qualifiers Abel, Bishop and Gregorini having to earn extra points in the new ‘shootout’ for all non-qualifiers – an innovative initiative from ANDRA, in consultation with the Australian Top Doorslammer Association.
Round 1 on Saturday saw four match ups that had plenty of interest. Zappia rolled out another impressive track record 5.770 @ 250.97mph to defeat an improving Pat Carbone. Paul Cannuli got into the fives to defeat Murray O’Connor; O’Rourke continued his power display to put away the struggling Peter Kapiris, and Belleri ran his new Fabietti Monaro ride into the semis as Ben Bray overpowered the track.
“The car was running great, with just small pedals to overcome tyre shake. We stepped it up for the semi final, but were a little nervous after watching O’Rourke win his round, but all over the track. On my run at around sixty feet I pedaled after tyre shake but didn’t hit second gear – next thing I know the car turned savagely right and grazed the wall. That happens when the traction is different under each rear tyre – we thing the track went off towards the edge”.
The final saw Paul Cannuli defeat Grant O’Rourke – both cars struggling to get down the track.
“We are still happy with the result. With extra points coming from Top Qualifying and Top Speed we have ended up third in the ANDRA Championship on 88 points in a revised point system for this season, behind winner Cannuli on 105 points and O’Rourke on 92. There is plenty of time to make that up this season”.
“A big thank you to Adrian and Karen for the loan if the cars and their help with the car and merchandise and Matt Abel for the accommodation for the crew”.
“Thanks to Scott MacLean and Ray Treasure and the Hidden Valley Drag Strip for putting on such an awesome event, and for the people of Darwin for showing their support. Drag racing in regional Australia is alive and well, and we look forward to returning for Round 2 of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship on 14 – 15th August 2015 to put on another great show for the fans”.
1. J ZAPPIA 5.781 @ 250.97
2. G O’ROURKE 5.794 @ 249.53
3. M BELLERI 5.922 @ 234.29
4. P CANNULI 6.005 @ 237.42
5. M O’CONNOR 6.056 @ 242.45
6. B BRAY 6.072 @ 236.75
7. P KAPIRIS 6.089 @ 232.71
8. P CARBONE 6.105 @ 236.13
9. P PRIOLO 6.203 @ 231.87
10. M ABLE 6.350 @ 227.65
11. R TAYLOR 6.561 @ 160.12
12. S BISHOP 6.729 @ 166.11
13. D.GREGORINI 12.799 @ 156.05
14. M DACK
J ZAPPIA 5.770 @ 251.72 DEF P CARBONE 6.029 @ 240.77;
P CANNULI 5.931 @ 242.28 DEF M O’CONNOR 6.215 @ 236.05;
G O’ROURKE 5.906 @ 248.29 DEF P KAPIRIS 6.234 @ 210.01;
M BELLERI 5.927 @ 235.97 DEF B BRAY 16.111 @ 49.55.
P CANNULI 5.977 @ 239.44 DEF J ZAPPIA 7.615 @ 124.25 (HIT WALL);
G O’ROURKE 7.105 @ 204.08 DEF M BELLERI 10.531 @ 81.33
P CANNULI 6.097 @ 240.12 DEF G O’ROURKE 6.194 @ 239.95
Photography thanks to www.highrpm.com.au
- Mike O’Neill
- Jeremy Horvath
- Ed Forman