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John Zappia was left to rue what might have been at the second round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship in Sydney on Saturday.
Zappia top qualified with a strong 5.66 pass in tricky conditions, earning himself a first round match with New Zealand’s Trevor Smith. After a normal burnout, Zappia noticed the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro showing some odd behaviour.
“I started backing up from the burnout and the Motec dash went black,” he explained. “I thought to myself, ‘Ooh, that is not good.’ But I could drive without it, I didn’t need the shift light and would just listen to the motor.
“But the dash going black was a sign that the voltage in the battery that runs the systems in the car was low. As I went into pre-stage the engine stopped.”
With a reputation for reliability, it was an unusual event for Zappia Racing. Zappia believes that a few factors snowballed into the failure.
“We didn’t have our full crew here this weekend and we changed an engine between qualifying and racing, working until 2.30am. We finished off the rest before racing and we did a lot of warm ups to get the timing right, all of which wears down the battery. We had a spare one fully charged sitting in the tow vehicle and it is one of those things we should have checked, but it is what it is.”
The silver lining for Zappia was that the championship points damage was limited, with rival Paul Mouhayet going out in the second round.
“It would have been the perfect opportunity to pull away and get some more points, especially with Kelvin Lyle taking Paul Mouhayet out in the second round.
“Congratulations to Kelvin on his first win – I’d rather it was Kelvin than anyone else. I’ve been working with him for three years and helping him with his set up.
“There were a lot of upsets and all four teams that made the semi finals had never won an event before. That’s great for the class and shows how exciting the racing is right now.”
New sponsor Parry Bitsikas from Muscle Car Warehouse was unable to attend the meeting due to ill health and we hope he has a full recovery and is able to catch up with the team in the new year when returning to Sydney.
The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro will be rested for only a few short days before returning to action at Perth Motorplex as part of the Summer Slam at the WA Drag Racing Championships. Ten teams have entered for the Summer Slam, which provides a domestic series for WA racers.
Zappia is hopeful that the sea level air and some recent knowledge gains will help produce a new Pro Slammer track record.
“We are going to Perth Motorplex to give it a real good shot with the local championship and see what we can learn over the next three meetings before we head to our next 400 Thunder round at Willowbank.
“We have always struggled to go real fast in Perth, our best is a 5.66 I think. But with what we have learned and the way the car is handling right now we have a good chance of getting into some low sixties in Perth in the sea level air. If it is not too hot it is possible to crack into the 5.5s, but we will see.
“We will have new ’11x’ merchandise available, and we look forward to seeing our fans and sponsors at our home track for the first time this season.”