High expectations weighed on New South Wales drag racer Paul Mouhayet when he and the Moits Racing team announced they would be moving to compete in the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series, joining the ultra-competitive Pro Slammer division.
But two rounds into the championship Mouhayet holds the points lead and with round three looming at Willowbank Raceway's New Years Thunder on January 6, 2018, the Sydneysider said his team has been performing beyond expectations.
“Pro Slammer was new to us so I don't think we expected a lot,” he said. “I have got a crew chief (the USA's Billy Stocklin) who has proven to be the best of the best and my crew are really good at what they do. It is not a surprise to be in the points lead but it was certainly not on the agenda.”
Mouhayet has made the final round of the first two events of the season, but has seen runner up results in both. The first came to veteran Queenslander Gary Phillips in Darwin, while the second came to the USA's Frankie Taylor in Sydney just over a month ago.
“Payback is coming, I need to get revenge on Frankie,” Mouhayet said. “Victor (Bray) told me Frankie is coming back out again and I can promise you I won't make the same mistake again.
“In the final round at Sydney I was in pre-stage early, Frankie came in and double bulbed (turned on both pre-stage and stage lights at the same time) and for some reason I thought he only had one light on. I rolled in, put my second light on and then the lights came down and I sat there for no reason.”
Mouhayet's skills as a driver have rarely been in question, but the transition from turbocharging to supercharging means a change in driving style he has needed to adapt to.
“For me as a driver, the way I stage the car has been the most difficult thing,” he said. “In the turbo car I bump in with a button and I am ready to go right from the pre-stage light, but in a blower car you need to get on the 'chip' (the two step rev limiter) on the full stage light. My lights sucked at first as I adjusted but now we are getting back into the mid .0s which is not so bad.”
Mouhayet's crew have also needed to change their routine between rounds, with the supercharged Ford Mustang requiring a lot more maintenance.
“Their workload is probably five times as much,” Mouhayet explained. “Having to check bearings, changing valves, putting motors into the car between rounds – they have never had to do that before. There is a lot more wear and tear and strain on the engine when using a supercharger, so the boys on the crew have stepped their game up.”
While January's humid weather in Queensland can make it difficult to produce big horsepower, Mouhayet said the spectacular night race format of New Years Thunder will give time for the air to cool down and for Willowbank Raceway's world class drag racing surface to come alive.
“The track itself, I would be shocked if you couldn't run a 5.5 second run on that surface,” he said. “The only thing against that is the weather. But if the air comes good at night I would not be surprised if John Zappia goes a 5.5, after all he just went 5.60 flat in Sydney, and Scotty MacLean has gone 5.63, so don't be shocked if someone runs a fifty.
“We've been struggling to go faster than a 5.68 the last two times we have been out, but we think we have found the problem. To be super competitive is to be as fast as Scotty MacLean and John Zappia every time, that is the goal.”
New Years Thunder at Willowbank Raceway on January 6, 2018, will feature a smorgasbord of drag racing action including the earth-shaking, 500kmh Top Fuel dragsters, Pro Slammer, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Bike in the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series as well as Supercharged Outlaws, Pro Radial, Extreme Bike, Top Sportsman, Super Sedan, Super Street and Super Gas in the 400 Thunder Sportsman Drag Racing Series.
Entries for the event are now open for racers at willowbankraceway.com.au and spectator tickets are available online at http://www.willowbankraceway.com.au/MembersArea/orders/choose_event.aspx.