John Zappia's new Noonan engine combination paid off immediately at Perth Motorplex on Sunday as he wrapped up the win in the Summer Slam bracket as part of the ANDRA Grand Finals.
Zappia's Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro qualified second with a safe 5.770, before stepping up for a 5.724 win against Frank Taylor in the elimination round and then a 5.760 pass to win the final, after opponent Daniel Gregorini left before the green light with a mechanical issue.
Zappia finished second for the Summer Slam championship overall, despite missing two events of the seven round series. He made the final of every event he attended and won three of those five finals. In fact, Zappia has made the final round of every single Summer Slam event he has attended since the series begin in 2016 - thirteen in total.
“The national series was our priority. If there was a clash of dates with the Summer Slam series we opted for the national series. The Summer Slam series has been a great initiative in Perth. Thanks to Kelvin Lyle and his company Direct Mining and Industrial for sponsoring the series and hopefully it will be bigger and better next season,” he said.
“You only have to look at the numbers the field are running. The opportunity to go racing so much is giving everyone the data they need to go fast.”
After a 1000 feet shut off pass to perform a systems check on his first qualifying run, Zappia returned for a 5.77, where he battled tyre shake in what has been a constant theme for the team at Perth Motorplex this season.
“We worked our butts off for two weeks to put together two new Noonan motors,” Zappia said. “We were still finishing them off on Saturday morning before leaving for the track to setup.”
“With the ANDRA Grand Finals being a two day event, we did our maintenance overnight and were able to go over everything closely for race day where we were due to take on Frank Taylor.
“Unfortunately Frank had some problems after his burnout and we had to take the solo. The car got through first gear without rattling the tyres which was fantastic, though I short shifted at 8900rpm. The Noonan horsepower took over from there and we were able to take the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro to a 5.72 win light, which was low ET of the event.”
The impressive run secured a finals spot for Zappia, where he would take on Daniel Gregorini.
“The final against Daniel was a strange one. As all the stage beams came on, Daniel rolled the beams with a mechanical issue. I was distracted by the sound of the early launch or the red light. Not sure, but it messed up my own staging routine. I was carrying about 1300 revs more than normal and the car crept forward, so as I went to launch the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro it moved further forward and had too many revs for our normal launch. The additional revs created too much wheel speed so I had to pedal it to drop the front end and punched second gear for a 5.76/255mph, which was our best speed of the weekend.”
Zappia said the team was taking a conservative approach with a new engine, though the track and air conditions were outstanding.
“There was 5.60 potential in that air and we are starting to figure out how to make it go through without shaking. We've struggled at Kwinana with tyre shake but showed a lot of improvement in eliminating the tyre shake issue we have had,” he said.
“The air was killer. I didn't do the air justice because we were just taking small steps with the engine to bring the performance back in.”
With the Perth season now at a close, Zappia Racing will focus on the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series, where Pro Slammers will next compete at Sydney Dragway for Nitro Thunder on the 3 – 4th of May.
“It will be a great opportunity to catch up with our east coast sponsors, fans and supporters and hopefully achieve finals success in what will be a hotly contested event.”