Event Coverage: Zauch overcomes fuel leak, Dyson doubles up, Stares 2:1 in finals

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Mark Zauch (Virginia, SA) has won his first ever ANDRA Christmas Tree at Round 3 of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series in Mildura with a win over Justin Russell in the Supercharged Outlaws final.

The unlikely win was despite a fuel leak between the final two rounds that the team temporarily fixed with a makeshift combination of rags and duct tape.


“I came up here just to get the car down the track,” said Zauch.

“I wasn’t planning on winning, we just wanted to test a few things – I did some maintenance on the car myself so I was a little bit sceptical if it was going to be alright and yeah, we went and pulled this out.

“We had a little fuel leak (before the final) that we didn’t have enough time to weld it up so we duct taped a few rags underneath the tank to soak up the fuel to give it our best shot. I cracked a good reaction time and came out with the trophy.

“I’d like to thank my old man, he drives me around everywhere, pays for all the transport so thank you Dad. And to all the crew for the weekend, Chris, Donna, my brother Chris, Colleen and a special thank you to Dave Baines who has always been on the phone and helped me out where he can. I can’t thank him enough.”

Russell was competing in his second straight final following a runner up in the Desert Nationals at Alice Springs Inland Dragway in July. But his wait will continue, as it was a fairy tale finish for Zauch.

As the 7th placed qualifier, Zauch had the handicap advantage against all his elimination opponents however he would face quicker opponents as a result. He held on in all three rounds defeating Doina Day and Steven Walker before getting the jump with a huge holeshot advantage on the start line to win the final.

Reacting in .043 seconds to Russell’s .214, Zauch stayed the course for an unexpected victory on a winning 4.974 at 140.92 mph and a 4.95 dial in to 4.311 at 164.61 mph on a 4.28 dial in.

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Fortune seems to smile on Cory Dyson (Kilmore, Victoria) at Mildura Sunset Strip as he doubled up to win his second ANDRA Christmas Tree in Modified at the same track he won his first in December 2015.

Last time Matt Forbes red lighted and on this occasion against Jess Turner in the final, Dyson was the beneficiary of a Turner break out. But it was always going to take a stellar effort to beat Dyson and his outstanding consistency at both ends of the race track combining good reaction times and accurate dial ins.

Dyson won the final thanks a 4.665 at 146.88 mph on a 4.64 dial in to Turner who nominated a 4.54 dial in to break out on a 4.539 second pass at 149.20 mph.

“I had a great weekend, the car was running really strong, qualified really well and the car was running consistent,” said Dyson.

“I had a little issue in the last qualifier yesterday but we got all that fixed up and the car was back to perfect today and we came through with the win, we’re very happy.

“Jess is a very tough opponent so I’ve come up against her a few times now and she’s picked me off a few times so I was trying to give her a really good run for her money. I just tried my best and came up with the goods in the end.

“I’d like to thank my family, my girlfriend Fiona, my crew Aiden, Warrick and my Dad Neil – without them I wouldn’t be to do any of this and wouldn’t have got through the weekend. And my sponsors Mobil 1 and Transcal Fleet Branding Solutions.”

Dyson came through earlier rounds against Terry Sparrow, Ashley Johnson and Shane Wynd.

In other news, top qualifier Simon Barlow set a new A/MD 660 foot record with an ET of 4.459 while Leanne Braggs set a new A/MD speed record when she clocked 154.69 mph.

The Gridstar by YBI Best Presented Award went to Paul Utting and his team who received the Best Presented Trophy, six Best Presented caps and a $50 Summit Racing Equipment gift card.

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Defending Top Sportsman Champion Jason Stares (Camden, NSW) is now 2:1 in final rounds this season defeating Michael Braggs who was making his debut in the bracket this weekend.

Stares was a late entry to the event and the decision paid dividends qualifying 2nd setting him on another winning path past Graham Hargrave, Jason Arbery and his 2015/2016 Series sparring partner Paul Russo to reach his third consecutive final this season.

Braggs fouled on the start line by just .003 seconds to turn on the red light and get off the gas but Stares would have been tough to beat anyway with a .010 reaction on the way to a 4.712 at 137.39 mph on a 4.66 dial in.

“It’s Mildura, it’s always great here, people are always friendly, track guys are always great and just lucky it was a bit cooler than last year,” said Stares.

“The track was unbelievable and it was an all round awesome weekend.

“It was lucky Michael Braggs turned on the red light before I moved. I still came out with a .010 reaction so we would have given him a good fight at the other end. It was over before it had begun but we’ll take it. I love Mildura, two races, two wins so I’ll be back.

“Thanks to the crew, they are as important as the sponsors. I can’t race the car without these guys; Aaron Brookes, Brett Hore, my three uncles who came along for this one and Tim Reidy for being a legend. And also my sponsors, we couldn’t do what we do without them; VPW, Lucas Oil, Sunoco Race Fuels, Proflow, SunX, Sunset Performance Engines and a special mention to Brett at ADRP for handling the weekend.”

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A beaten finalist at the Sunset Strip last season, Danny Buccella (Royal Park, SA) made amends to win the biggest field of the weekend in Super Sedan defeating Michael Jennings in the final.

Buccella was able to relax and run the car out the back door to really dial in for the final in a solo semi final following wins over Brandon Freer, Lia Jurkovic and George Tipouikidis.

Jennings had the handicap in the final but Bucella out-reacted his opponent, chasing him down and raising the trophy aloft with a 5.714 second pass at 121.32 mph on a 5.70 dial in to a 6.732 at 101.03 mph on a 6.70 dial in.

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The Moving Man Gordon Crawford (Mundaring, WA) picked up his second ever ANDRA Christmas Tree in Modified Bike taking out Greg Oberti, Johnny Ireland and Rob Cassar to meet defending Champion Bryan Finn in the final.

Finn had the advantage with the handicapped start and Crawford needed to react fast to chase him down. A .013 second reaction time from the West Aussie set up the pursuit with Crawford reeling the Champ in who broke out trying to hang on with a 6.894 at 101.67 mph on a 6.93 dial in. Crawford’s superior 6.197 at 102.90 mph on a 6.10 dial in won the day.

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Chris Tatchell (Merbein, Victoria) secured his second ANDRA Christmas Tree for the calendar year in Super Street following his first ever win at South Coast Raceway in January. Tatchell defeated Michael Bridges, Creagh Stuart and Tony Barbara on route to a bye run into the final.

There he faced Greg Holland in the battle of the Holdens reacting quickest to lead all the way and break the beam first with a 7.413 at 86.97 mph on a 7.38 dial in to a 7.204 at 96.31 mph on a 717 dial in.

Tatchell also won the Perfect Light Award for for his .000 reaction time in Round 2.

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The battle of the future stars in Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster came down to a close all female affair.

Holly Camilleri (Langwarrin, Victoria) qualified in 11th position and came through three difficult rounds against Tegan Roach, Andrew Shirley and Jordan Spencer to face Sarah Donnelly in the final.

Identical .009 reaction times set up a tense race to the finish with Camilleri coming out on traversing the strip in 9.760 seconds at 63.60 mph on a 9.74 dial in to Donnelly’s 8.448 at 72.77 mph on an 8.45 dial in.

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And finally the Super Gas final came down to Champion vs Champion when 2016 Super Gas Champ Darryl Stephen faced off against 2015 Champ Graeme Spencer (Diggers Rest, Victoria).

Following a first round bye run, Spencer needed wins over Warren Bull and Adrian McGrotty to set up the final showdown with Spencer walking away the winner on a double breakout.

Over the 1/8 mile Super Gas runs a fixed dial in of 6.30 and both drivers went under the limit, Spencer victorious with a 6.289 at 116.04 mph to a 6.281 at 114.06 mph.

ANDRA thanks the Sunraysia Drag Racing Association staff, volunteers and sponsors including Mildura Gateway Tavern for an outstanding race track and a great event.

The next round of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series takes place at the Rowe Memorial Super Stock Classic on November 19 at Calder Park Raceway. For more information please visit www.calderparkdragracing.com.au.

For final results from the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series at Mildura Sunset Strip please click here.

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