It was another event Sydney, and ANDRA, needed to have. The rain stayed (mostly) away and the racing delivered in spades. Read on for our record of events from the Fuchs Australian Nationals.
The Top Fuel show was highly spoken of at the Fuchs Australian Nationals. For a bracket that comes in for more than its fair share of criticism, it was a welcome change.
The qualifying show was oil down free and saw Andrew Cowin card a super quick 4.59 to lead the way, though there were many other sterling performances across the all four second field. Damien Harris demolished his PB by over a tenth while Phil Lamattina’s new tuner Aaron Hambridge found the sweet spot with a 327mph blast that would stand as top speed of the event.
Bob Shepherd recorded his personal best time of 4.93 which saw him make it into the field at sixth spot, while Terry Sainty also recorded his first four second pass in a long time in the Australian built dragster. The biggest surprise was the DNQ of former Australian champion Phil Read, missing the field by a painful one thousandth of a second.
1 63 T/F ANDREW COWIN HADMAN DRAGSTER TFX 500 4.594 326.71
2 526 T/F DAMIEN HARRIS MC KINNEY DRAGSTR TFX 496 4.623 314.68
3 145 T/F PHILLIP LAMATTINA MC KINNEY D'STER ROD 498 4.630 327.27
4 1 T/F DARREN MORGAN HADMAN DRAGSTER BAE 498 4.676 323.04
5 3546 T/F MARK MARIANI ATTAC DRAGSTER BAE 500 4.776 275.96
6 282 T/F ROBERT SHEPHERD UYEHARA DRAGSTER BAE 498 4.930 295.46
7 796 T/F CORY MC CLENATHAN DRAGSTER BAE 500 4.949 251.58
8 700 T/F TERRY SAINTY SAINTY DRAGSTER SPW 498 4.960 290.07
9 33 T/F PHILIP READ MCKINNEY DRAGSTER TFX 492 4.961 242.84
10 1464 T/F LUKE SHEPHERD MCKINNEY DRAGSTER TFX 498 5.569 243.15
Race day opened in near perfect conditions with newly crowned champ Darren Morgan against Mark Mariani. They left evenly but Mariani began to burn up just past quarter track, eventually going into a full on fireball, leaving Morgan to win with a 4.81/301 to a 5.54. Following the clean up USA driver Cory McClenathan, who only made the field in the final session of qualifying, looked to be going down to number two qualifier Damien Harris but when Harris’s car struggled through the last quarter of the track McClenathan snuck by for a 4.82/297 win against a 4.95/275. Terry Sainty has claimed upset wins in the past but with cylinders out early and a flash of flame there was no such chance against Andrew Cowin who took a 4.72/315 win. In the final match up of the first round there was plenty of significance as Bob Shepherd was taking part in his last event. Unfortunately for the team the dream would end here as Lamattina showed consistency with a 4.65/317 pass taking the victory against a valiant 5.39/260 from Shepherd who dropped a hole out from the line. Shepherd was roundly applauded on his return back up the track and his presence will be missed from Top Fuel.
Morgan versus Cowin was a mouth watering semi final: the new champ against the experienced Aeroflow/Rocket team. Morgan went up in smoke at the hit and though he pedalled loudly throughout the whole track it was never going to catch a 4.66/319. McClenathan faced Lamattina and advanced to the final with a 4.68/294 over the struggling Fuchs car which had cylinders out early and never recovered.
On September 11, there was no doubt McClenathan wanted to take a win home in memory of one of the most tragic events to hit the USA. But for Cowin a Nationals win would be vital to get his championship started. In one of the more unique Top Fuel races seen, both drivers launched before their parachutes both came out about 100 feet out, McClenathan due to tyre shake but Cowin due to a much more paralysing blower pop. McClenathan pedalled and got down for a messy 5.66 but it was more than enough to take the win.
It was a new name leading Top Alcohol at the Fuchs Australian Nationals with Jon Sting bolting to a 5.52 to stun the field. On the outside looking in was now Queenslander Debbie O’Rourke and Nitro Champs winner John Cannuli.
1 1162 TA/D JON STING SPITZER DRAGSTER BMR 471 5.522 254.04
2 76 TA/FC GARY PHILLIPS 2009 FORD MUSTANG BAE 511 5.540 256.45
3 2643 TA/FC STEVEN HAM PONTIAC FIREBIRD BAE 511 5.551 254.23
4 15 TA/FC STEVEN REED 2002 CAMARO F/CAR KB 526 5.633 251.91
5 4697 TA/D ADAM MARCHANT DRAGSTER BAE 471 5.655 248.93
6 1 TA/D WAYNE NEWBY MEYER DRAGSTER BAE 489 5.678 251.91
7 1502 TA/FC WAYNE PRICE PONTIAC F/CAR HEMI 526 5.764 243.63
8 4227 TA/FC RICK GAUCI 05 FORD MUSTANG BAE 521 5.784 246.75
9 2946 TA/FC DEBBIE O'ROURKE CHEV CAMARO BAE 526 5.808 241.37
10 113 TA/FC JOHN CANNULI 06 MONTE CARLO BAE 521 5.900 242.80
In round one Adam Marchant paid the price for a very slow .385 reaction time when his 5.66 lost to a slower 5.70 from Steve Reed. Wayne Price ran his quickest pass of 5.76 in qualifying but unfortunately couldn’t repeat up against Gary Phillips who put in a 5.61 pass. Steven Ham was another driver to feel the wrath of the Christmas tree when his 5.62 lost to a 5.67 from Wayne Newby while in the upset of the round Rick Gauci used a 5.79 to eliminate Jon Sting whose dragster didn’t seem fussed about changing gears.
With the lovely Kate Harker commentating on the category (keep your eye on Drag News for more information about Kate’s Australian plans), Top Alcohol had a certain buzz and the semi finals were no exception. A 5.60 from Phillips put out Newby but there was controversy in the other race when Reed was red lit after Gauci’s deep stage light came on despite the car not begin in stage. A re run was called and despite Gauci’s deep stage light again coming on early (perhaps an issue with body height), the race was run and a 5.60 took the win for Reed, though at a thousandth slower than Phillips he didn’t quite get lane choice.
The final delivered excitement as both Reed and Phillips tore down the track, but Reed headed left towards the finish line and though he crossed first, smashed both beams, meaning his 5.62 was disqualified and Phillips would take yet another Nationals trophy home.
There was no shortage of anticipation for Top Doorslammer following Robin Judd’s stellar 5.77 pass in testing – and it didn’t disappoint.
Reigning champ John Zappia echoed the feat in qualifying with a 5.77/250 from his Holden Monaro, a reminder to the field on just who holds the national record.
Judd, Mark Belleri and Peter Kapiris were also in the five second zone in qualifying but the bump was a relatively slow 6.32, held by Sean Mifsud in his new Camaro.
1 846 T/D JOHN ZAPPIA 71 HQ MONARO HEMI 514 5.777 250.74
2 1693 T/D ROBIN JUDD 1959 STUDEBAKER KB 511 5.868 249.16
3 67 T/D MARK BELLERI CHEV CAMARO TFX 522 5.902 247.16
4 4 T/D PETER KAPIRIS DODGE SARATOGA BAE 521 5.913 252.43
5 2639 T/D BEN BRAY HOLD MONARO COUPE BAE 511 6.022 237.17
6 590 T/D MAURICE FABIETTI 2006 HOLD MONARO BAE 511 6.028 236.17
7 1221 T/D VICTOR BRAY 57 CHEV SEDAN BAE 511 6.245 204.42
8 1291 T/D SEAN MIFSUD 67 CHEV CAMARO JAN 521 6.327 232.15
9 76 T/D GARY PHILLIPS 1953 STUDEBAKER BAE 511 6.345 236.17
10 134 T/D BRETT GILLESPIE 69 FORD MUSTANG BAE 526 6.481 214.62
11 1936 T/D GEOFF GRADDEN CHRYSLER SARATOGA KB 502 6.545 225.48
12 113 T/D JOHN CANNULI 68 CHEV CAMARO BAE 521 6.597 175.57
13 3735 T/D MARTYN DACK FORD BA HEMI 520 6.636 206.99
14 2076 T/D PHILIP GLENDENNING FORD BA BAE 521 6.828 229.35
The racing delivered quick performances in spades. Peter Kapiris kicked things off in a great contest with Ben Bray. After identical reaction times a 5.84/251 from Kapiris knocked out a 5.94/243 from Bray’s Sidchrome Monaro. Mark Belleri put a decent holeshot on Maurice Fabietti and then outran the newly automatic Holden Trade Club car in a 5.93 to 5.97 contest. Victor Bray red lit and that ended his day way too early against a 6.00 from Robin Judd who had bad tyre shake in the Aeroflow Studebaker. In the last race of the round a 5.86/249 put out a strong 6.00/238 from Mifsud who will no doubt soon join the regular five second runners.
In the semi finals Judd was still looking for the pace he needed despite a 6.11 win against Belleri who had the noise go away early. Meantime Kapiris stormed to a 5.93 at a big 253mph to eliminate Zappia who headed right from the start before snapping left and crossing the centre line.
Judd and Kapiris both stand as drivers who can challenge the dominance of John Zappia. They showed this in a spectacular final with Kapiris using a personal best 5.80 at an epic 256mph to defeat a 5.84/248 from Judd.
Yes, this will be a good season…
A small Top Bike field was on show at the Nationals with just five bikes racing. Hopefully this bracket, which tends to ebb and flow in numbers, can recover in coming events.
Mark Drew led the way under the new TB/T classing for v-twin motorcycles, with a strong 6.52/218.
1 2987 TB/T MARK DREW HARLEY DAVIDSON 175CI 6.527 218.80
2 1 TB/M CHRIS MATHESON MC BRIDE SPECIAL 1500CC 6.577 182.62
3 311 TB/T CRAIG BONWICK NITRO HARLEY PRP 168 6.930 177.44
4 663 TB/M PHIL PARKER PUMA VORTEX PUMA1425 8.071 180.69
5 1382 TB/T MICHAEL GREGG HARLEY TOP BIKE 120CI 8.544 129.93
In eliminations Matheson had a solo when a rider withdrew from the field. A 6.57 didn't really push his Web Cams motorcycle and it even sounded a little crook. Craig Bonwick was almost thrown off his bike near the startline as it wildly bucked but he was able to hang on for an 8.30 win against Phil Parker whose Puma was ailing early. Lastly Mark Drew took on Graeme Morell and a 6.71/213 was way too quick for an 8.80.
With Bonwick not able to return for the semi finals, Drew and Matheson both took solo passes, with a tough 6.32 stealing low ET and lane choice for Matheson while a 6.53/215 from Drew showed he had a consistent package.
Unfortunately that consistency departed in the final when Drew spun the big rear slick and Matheson ran away for the win with a 6.39/204 to a 7.64/202.
A 16 car field was offered for Pro Stock and all 16 would make it in. While there was six second buzz about, the closest would be a 7.03 from Nick Xerakias.
1 2193 PRO NICK XERAKIAS ESCORT ZX2 FORD 400 7.030 194.07
2 1819 PRO JASON HEDGES PONTIAC GTO 398 CI 7.040 193.05
3 2909 PRO DENIS WHITING 06 HOLD VZ MONARO CHEV 399 7.055 192.41
4 401 PRO LEE BEKTASH DODGE STRATUS HEMI 399 7.062 193.63
5 12 PRO SHANE TUCKER 2010 PONTIAC GTO CHEV 400 7.063 193.27
6 1 PRO AARON TREMAYNE CHEV COBALT CHEV 398 7.067 193.52
7 3982 PRO DAVE NEWCOMBE PONTIAC GTO CHEV 398 7.075 192.69
8 2 PRO TYRONNE TREMAYNE CHEV COBALT CHEV 398 7.078 192.71
9 1212 PRO JASON GRIMA FORD MUSTANG FORD 400 7.084 191.43
10 4521 PRO MICHAEL ALI PONTIAC GTO CHEV 400 7.100 192.58
11 810 PRO RICK CHILTON PONTIAC GRAND AM CHEV 400 7.153 191.38
12 414 PRO EMILIO SPINOZZI PONTIAC GTO CHEV 400 7.163 191.92
13 1705 PRO BILL KOTSIAS PONTIAC GTO CHEV 388 7.165 190.43
14 1480 PRO BILL PERDIKARIS FORD ESCORT ZX2 FORD 399 7.221 181.98
15 126 PRO ARTHUR KOLAROFF PONTIAC GXP CHEV 400 7.241 188.25
16 3370 PRO CHRIS SOLDATOS 08 PONITAC GTO CHEV 400 7.699 137.1
Round One presented a few surprises. Dave Newcombe red lit to Emilio Spinozzi, Chris Soldatos ran a massive PB of 7.04 but lost on a holeshot, Tyronne Tremayne red lit to Rick Chilton and Jason Grima did the same against Michael Ali.
Round two's surprises continued with Australian champ Aaron Tremayne red lighting to Shane Tucker's Monster Pontiac after going into deep stage. Ali continued his strong event with a holeshot win getting his 7.11 over the line against a 7.06 from Xerakias. Denis Whiting was strong on the tree with a .008 and 7.09 in his win over Spinozzi while Chilton's day came to a narrow two hundredths end against Hedges.
In the semi finals Tucker got very loose at mid track and shut down to watch Ali move into the final while a red light for Whiting gave Hedges the pass through. Both winning drivers ran 7.103 reaction times, setting up for a close final.
Well, it would have been close but it was all over on the start line for Hedges who left with a -.007, wasting a 7.07 and giving a 7.10 from South Australian Ali the victory.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
Like their Top Bike brethren, there wasn't a full field in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Australian champ Maurice Allen showed why he has the title with a 7.47 on the Milwaukee Suzuki to lead the way, though Michael Gilbertson and Phil Howard were close behind.
1 1 P/M MAURICE ALLEN SUZUKI GSXR V&H 1655 7.471 180.28
2 2793 P/M MICHAEL GILBERTSON SUZUKI TL1000 1655CC 7.496 174.03
3 901 P/M PHIL HOWARD KAWASAKI KAW 1570 7.518 171.31
4 123 P/M GLENN WOOSTER SUZUKI TLR 1000 SUZ 1428 7.766 168.87
5 3 P/M LACHLAN IRELAND SUZUKI VULT 1498 8.114 171.53
6 868 P/M SCOTT WHITE SUZUKI TLR SUZ 1570 8.476 154.05
7 3292 P/M MARK HANCOCK SUZUKI GSXR 1100 1570CC 9.064 104.78
Wooster put Ireland out in the first round with his 7.74 when Ireland's Lucas Oils machine stumbled off the start line. Howard stole away low ET with a 7.38 blast which put away an improving 7.79 from Scott White, who has the tuning talents of Trevor Birrell aboard. Gilbertson was lucky to take a 7.94 win on a holeshot against Mark Hancock's 7.91, Gilbertson's bike performing its somewhat regular start line hop. Allen closed the round with a 7.41 solo.
The champ would improve in the semi finals with a strong 7.32/182, gaining back low ET and putting away a 7.52 from Glenn Wooster, which was his best pass off the weekend. Howard ran an ailing 7.94 against Gilbertson who did not show, but with plenty of smoke in the braking area, he would not be back for the final.
That left Allen to get his title defence off to the best possible start, going through for a 7.39/183 win of the Fuchs Australian Nationals.
Keep your eye out for the full report with all the in depth detail including all the stories from the sportsman ranks from Grant Stephens soon.