Early pace set in Winternationals qualifying

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Qualifying and early eliminations are well underway at the Winternationals, even if it was brought to an early end by some rain at the end of Saturday night.

Top Fuel

Top Fuel saw Phil Read the quickest with a 4.94 after a quick 3.17 half track time. But it was Darren Morgan (pictured right, all photos courtesy Willowbank Raceway/ www.blacktrack.com.au) who deserved the headlines for AEG Powertools when he wrapped up the championship simply by staging his car. Morgan is making a big impact at the event, with his new Top Fuel simulator attracting plenty of interest. The rest of the fuel field struggled on the cold track with everybody else buttoning off early. The second session was canned when rain began to fall.

“All these guys are volunteers so to make the championship happen and make it through is pretty neat,” said Morgan.

“We just needed that 20 extra points, we should have done it last meeting but we did it this meeting and now we have got the number one on the car for next season so that is pretty amazing.

“It also means that our own Ben Patterson is officially the youngest Top Fuel Championship winning crew chief in any Top Fuel championship ever held, at the age of 22 years old – so that is pretty neat for Ben.

“He is probably the most hard working team member ever, juggling a Engineering degree at uni which he is doing really well at and putting so much time into the team, he is a good kid!”

Phil Read 4.940
Mark Mariani 6.217
Damien Harris 7.702
Darren Morgan 11.121
Cory Maclenathan 12.510
Phil Lamattina 17.630
Steve Read 25.700

Top Alcohol

Top Alcohol had no such issues with two sessions going down the track. Second generation driver Jamie Noonan followed in the footsteps of father John with a stunning 5.56 pass. It was a dragster one-two with Wayne Newby going to a 5.58 for second. Newby has also wrapped up the championship so congratulations go to the team. Steve Ham finally found the pace he knew his Mobil 1 Funny Car had, running a 5.65/251 while Gary Phillips also ensured there would not be a repeat of his DNQ in Sydney, also going 5.65. A near personal best 5.68 by West Australian Rob Pilkington put him into fifth, followed by a 5.73 from Jon Sting, one of the new breed in Top Alcohol. Debbie O’Rourke used a personal best 5.77 to slot into seventh, with her big RPM launch style suiting the sticky Willowbank surface. Rick Gauci’s Aeroflow Funny Car rounded out the field with a 5.85. On the outside looking in is last round winner John Cannuli, only just missing with a 5.86. Adam Marchant and Wayne Price are also in the fives but not in the field with two more chances tomorrow.

“It is just awesome, both the crew of Noonan Race Engineering boys and I are pretty green, after all the first time I went down a drag strip was last weekend when I got my licence, so its pretty amazing,” said Noonan.

“We knew the car had it in it but it was more whether I would be able to run strong as a driver and how the crew guys would go, but so far everyone is doing an awesome job and we feel that the car has more in it.

“I have been involved in the sport for years, but the time had come where I had enough of just working on everyone else’s cars so I went out and decided to start my own team and have full control – so far its working out pretty well.”

Jamie Noonan 5.562
Wayne Newby 5.581
Steve Ham 5.654
Gary Phillips 5.657
Rob Pilkington 5.685
Jon Sting 5.732
Debbie O’Rourke 5.777
Rick Gauci 5.858
John Cannuli 5.860
Adam Marchant 5.912
Wayne Price 5.970
Steve Reed 6.032
Paul Madill 6.077
Dennis Byth 6.430

Top Doorslammer

Top Doorslammer got one completed session while another had to be abandoned with rain part way through. Depending on whether or not the session is completed will affect whether or not some times stay in. John Zappia carried the front wheels to a 5.82 to lead the way in the second session, following up from an earlier 5.91. Peter Kapiris has stepped up again in his Saratoga with a 5.85, backed up with a 5.88 to ensure he will be a threat come race day – however he did leave a lot of oil in the braking area. Ben Bray nailed a 5.90 in the Sidchrome Monaro while Mark Belleri’s solid 5.95 put him into fourth. Gary Phillips (6.17), Scott Maclean (6.23), Murray O’Connor (6.24) and Andrew Sutton (6.27) fill up the rest of the field. John Cannuli was originally in with a 6.19 in his Camaro but the car reportedly came in light on the scales and he was back out again.

Note the below results include the runs from the incomplete second session.

John Zappia 5.823
Peter Kapiris 5.859
Ben Bray 5.906
Mark Belleri 5.957
Gary Phillips 6.175
Scott Maclean 6.231
Murray O’Connor 6.246
Andrew Sutton 6.272
Daniel Gregorini 6.290
Stuart Bishop 6.297
Tony Defelice 6.399
Russ Pavey 6.623
Robin Judd 6.762
Maurice Fabietti 6.866
Phil Glendenning 7.783
Rino D’Alfonso 10.102
Deno Brijeski 10.337
Victor Bray 11.984
Marty Dack 12.398
Sean Mifsud 16.750

Pro Stock

Pro Stock has now been through three sessions with another to come tomorrow. Lee Bektash struck a blow for Mopar with a 7.03 leading the way and only just off the quickest ever ET of 7.02. Dave Newcombe’s new car has proved a worthy investment with a 7.04, while Peter Ridgeway showed he is still always a contender with a 7.05. Three other drivers, Nick Xerakias, Aaron Tremayne and Jason Hedges were also in the 7.0s. The bump is currently held by John Barbagallo with a 7.19.

There was a wild moment in session one when Arthur Kolaroff went close to rolling his car in the braking area. Shane Tucker was surprisingly down the bottom of the order in his Monster-supported car, after his first 7.20 run was disallowed when the car came in light and then he suffered an inlet valve failure. Even more interesting was the team being chased by horseback police into the pits, this from Rob Tucker: “Well it’s been an eventful weekend at the Winternationals, thrashing all day then got chased by two cops on horse back and a pursuit car! All for running the gate past security so we could make the third qualifying session. Tough crowd!”

Lee Bektash 7.030
Dave Newcombe 7.044
Peter Ridgeway 7.059
Nick Xerakias 7.072
Aaron Tremayne 7.073
Jason Hedges 7.075
Brian Pursell 7.102
Bill Perdikaris 7.105
Tyronne Tremayne 7.114

Bill Kotsias 7.131
Andrew Stavroulakis 7.143
Chris Soldatos 7.149
Denis Whiting 7.169
Wayne Daley 7.178
Scott Porter 7.190
John Barbagallo 7.197
Jason Grima 7.261
Allen Puglia 7.296
Arthur Kolaroff 7.403
Shane Tucker 7.569

Top Bike

Top Bike unsurprisingly features Chris Matheson in the number one spot after he recorded an early shut off 6.59 pass. Mark Drew follows on with a 6.60, also recording a big 215mph speed. Speaking of WA Harley riders, good luck also to Mark Ashelford, competing in Sweden this weekend. Terry Burnett rode to a PB 6.92 pass to get his place in the field. The remainder of the field are still struggling to show their true form, with Marc Ryder holding the bump on a 7.98.


Chris Matheson 6.570
Mark Drew 6.601
Terry Burnett 6.926
Troy McLean 7.152
Wayne Barrett 7.450
Dennis Grant 7.721
Mick Murray 7.906
Marc Ryder 7.989
Gavin Spann 8.551
Alan Herriman 9.481
Graeme Morell 10.054
Geoff Redgrave 10.358
Neville Smith 11.476

Pro Stock Motorcycle

In Pro Stock Motorcycle Michael Gilbertson will go into Sunday as the leader on his Hogs Breath Cafe Suzuki with a 7.43 pass from the first qualifying session. Lachy Ireland tried his hardest in the second session to come back but a 7.52 was the best he could muster as the bike almost bucked him off. Bob Shaw’s 9.06 is a nervous bump spot holder with Phil Howard and Luke Crowley on the outside easily able to surpass that kind of pace.


Michael Gilbertson 7.437
Lachy Ireland 7.570
Maurice Allen 7.598
Daniel Rabnott 7.652
Glenn Wooster 7.696
Andrew Badcock 7.927
Ross Lemberg 8.301
Bob Shaw 9.060
Phil Howard 13.370
Luke Crowley 14.091
Scott White 17.655


In group two there have been many record passes. In Competition Craig Geddes leads the way with a .55 under 7.50 from his E/AA. Justin Walshe hotfooted his AA/A to a 5.93 to be .53 under and in second place while West Aussie young gun Shane Weston’s 5.80 is .52 under for third. Speaking of West Aussies, championship leaders Jeff Clarke and John McSweeney have had a horror start to the weekend. Clarke did engine damage with a small fire on his second pass, while McSweeney missed the first session fixing damage that his Funny Car sustained in transit, he was then shut off with a fuel leak in the second session. The bump is a soft 1.01 seconds over 7.76 from Wayne Keys.

Super Stock has been sheer madness in performance terms. Nine drivers are underneath the national record and the bump spot is .39 under the index! Kevin Magner carried his Nitro Champs form into the Winternationals with a -.79 8.46 from his Pontiac B/MP.  Tom Dimitropoulos sits in second at .72 under, also in B/MP but with a Camaro badge on. Michael Hunt is .70 under in his A/MSA Ford Falcon while Nino Cavallo went 7.74 in his C/AP Dodge Stratus to be .68 under and sit in fourth. Jim Ioannidis, Jason Simpson, Tony Caroscio, Omar Sedmak and Peter Clark are the other drivers underneath their national records.

A small Super Compact field is being led by New Zealander Rod Harvey with a 6.48, only just off the 6.47 national record for AA/SC. He has been recorded some big speeds well over 220mph this weekend too. Damien McKern and Bryce Miller hold the minor grid spots.

In Competition Bike Peter Everett has been assaulting D/SB with a .66 under 9.83 setting a new mark for the category. All from 599cc! Kevin Gummow only just missed top spot with a .65 under 7.70 in CC/CB. They were the only two sub record riders and 15 bikes have qualified so far.

Remember to stay tuned to the live updates tomorrow on Drag News!


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