John Zappia and his crew from Zappia Racing took the long haul road trip from Sydney to Darwin to compete in the Macmahon Grand Re-Opening of the Hidden Valley Drag Strip presented by 7mate, and had such a good time they vowed to return again.
Affectionately known in Australia as the Top End, Darwin is the smallest and most northerly of the Australian capital cities, and acts as the Top End’s regional centre. Darwin has grown from a pioneer outpost and small port into one of Australia’s most modern and multicultural cities.
“We had the best time up here? said John Zappia, “The hospitality, huge crowds and enthusiasm of the fans just made the event very special to us. To also go away with the new track record, and win for the event was a bonus to us. We will be back for sure!”
Friday night qualifying saw Zap sit out the first session to observe the track, but top qualify in the Procomp Motorsport Monaro with a 5.936 second pass at 238.72mph in the second session ? the first ever five second pass in the tracks 26 year history in front of approx 2500 spectators.
“The first run was encouraging, so we hotted the Rat up for the final session of qualifying, but the car overpowered the track causing me to pedal, and drive it out for a 6.11 @ 240mph ? fast enough though to reset the track speed record with the mph”.
Zap drew a solo in Round 1, but overpowered the track for a 6.389 at 223mph, then defeated fellow West Aussie Marty Dack in round 2 with a 5.992 at a lazy 199.67mph. With the track being so new it became extremely slippery at the top end and Zap had to pull the chutes early to straighten the car which was going sideways through the finish line. It was another typical Zap drive.
The final saw a re-run of the recent Nitro Champs final, with Zap running Kapiris in his Saratoga. It was Zappia who took the win with a track record 5.909 @ 238.17mph to Kapiris not far behind with a 6.051 @ 231.28mph. The Saturday night crowd of approx 6000 people really got their money?s worth with two five second passes in the one night. Peter was disappointed we couldn?t give the crowd the first side by side 5 second pass.
“A big thankyou to all the people in Darwin who really made the team feel welcome. Scott McClean and Matt Abel made a special effort to accommodate us in their workshop, and assist us during our stay. A special thanks to Haley for giving up her home to let some of the crew stay there, and for being our reverse gear”.
The travelling team headed off to Queensland for preparation for the final event in Zappia Racing?s East Coast Tour for 2011 ? the Winternationals to be held at Willowbank from the 10th to the 13th June. Crew are assembling the engine and cylinder heads repaired by Noonan Race Engineering, and spares ordered for the next event.
This year’s championship could again go down to the wire but hopefully the Team can do enough to stay ahead of the pack and win a 4th straight championship.
“We look forward to seeing as many sponsors, supporters and fans at Willowbank for what promises to be an exciting event to finish the 2010-2011 season”.
Hidden Valley sees first five second Doorslammer pass
Territory drag racing fans got a sight they have never witnessed in the 26 year history of Hidden Valley Drag Strip, the first ever five second Top Doorslammer pass at the Macmahon Grand Re-Opening presented by 7mate.
The night started with most teams playing it safe as they tried out the new Hidden Valley surface for the first time.
NSW based Ivan Skaramuca was leading the Doorslammer qualifying field with a 6.781 second pass at 189.36mph, followed by Martyn Dack with a 7.464 at 137mph. Unfortunately the Territory teams of Matt Abel and Scott MacLean did not feature in the top half of the field. MacLean left early after damaging the rear end to ensure it would be prepared for Saturday night’s racing.
With temperatures dropping to 17 degrees the teams decided to give the Hidden Valley crowd a bit of excitement during the second qualifying session.
Six teams were to reset the quickest pass for the night in quick succession as Kapiris, Dack, Skaramuca, Melenewycz all ran sub 6.6 second passes, a number that was previously the quickest pass recorded at Hidden Valley until recent upgrades in 2010/2011.
But it was John Zappia that had their crowd on their feet with his first and only pass of the night. Running a solo pass Zappia smashed the quickest and fastest pass ever run at Hidden Valley, stopping with a 5.936 second pass at 238.72mph, 0.131 seconds off the current National Record.
“Now we know what the track can hold we’ll see what we can do on Saturday,” said Zappia briefly on Friday night.
With five of the teams in the Doorslammer field having run 5 second passes across Australia the racing is going to be increased on Saturday as everyone is going to be out chasing Zappia’s top qualifying position. Zappia will sure be out to back up his first attempt to secure the official track record.
In other brackets Bronte Henning top qualified in the Outlaw class with a 7.409 at 181mph, while Brad Baker top qualified in Super Sedan with a 8.942 at 148mph. Modified Bike saw Colin Sainsbury in teh top qualifying position with a 10.306 while Mike Lockhart holds the top speed with a 135mph. Super Street has Chris Surin in the top qualifying position after two other teams, including Chris Tsakrios ran under the class limit of 11.00 seconds. Bob Czerniawski leads the Street car class while South Australian Dave Tattingham is leading the Street Bike qualifying order.
One final qualifying round commences at 4pm Saturday with the official opening at 6pm.
Remember to follow the live updates right here on Drag News.
Picture courtesy Matthew Kemp, Epic Moments