Gold class – ANDRA Pro Series report

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When 22 Top Doorslammers entered for the 39th annual Goldenstates at Perth Motorplex, everyone knew it would be an event packed with drama.

And drama was what the event delivered in spades. Upsets, cracking runs and a tension filled lead up to the finals ensured there were plenty of stories to come from the second biggest event on the WA calendar.

Two days of fairly cool weather for December, interspersed with some light showers, saw racers struggle to get a grip on the track at times but for those who could keep up consistency the rewards were there.

Top Doorslammer

As mentioned above, 22 Top Doorslammers nominated for this event, the biggest field ever seen in WA and one of the biggest ever in the country. It showed that Top Doorslammer remains the powerhouse bracket of Australian drag racing. Victor Bray was a late withdrawal however, with illness preventing him driving the car.

Ivan Skaramuca was first out in his stunning Camaro but shook the tyres early and a later 6.74 would not be enough to make the field.

Marty Dack’s Auto One Falcon, wrapped by Drag News sponsor Vinyl Wraps & Graphics, was nothing if not consistent with two 6.873s recorded but that would not be enough for race day.

Daniel Gregorini recorded three sub one second 60ft times in qualifying including a .968, quite an achievement on a cold track, and would bump himself into number eight with a 6.15 in the last session.

Mark Belleri set himself up with a solid 6.10 in the first session, then stepped up to a 5.99 in the second to qualify fourth, skipping the final session.

Matt Abel again had dramas just getting off the start line with his Chev, buzzing the tyres on almost every run.

Peter Kapiris had his Saratoga in the West for the first time but would endure dramas throughout qualifying.

Tony De Felice was another racer in Perth for the first time with his Camaro earning plenty of fans with some big burnouts.

John Zappia set himself up early in qualifying with a first session 5.92.

Robin Judd would top Zappia however with a superb 5.84/245, demonstrating the William Buck team’s excellent knowledge of the Motorplex. It would top qualify Judd and remain low ET.

Adam Croker bumped himself into the show with a 6.23 only to be bumped himself by Gregorini.

Maurice Fabietti made a great comeback from his fire in Sydney with a first up 5.96/238, followed by a 6.00 at just 214 that was two hundredths quicker to half track. 

Anthony Begley was getting a handle on one of the three ex-BSR Falcons at the track. A 6.33 was his best time, leaving him in 13th position.

Pino Priolo has his 37 Chev Coupe all licensed now but could not put in a full pass.

Scott MacLean turned hard right on this qualifier and brushed the wall in an incident very similar to the one at the Winternationals, though not as severe.

Gary Phillips was nervous in qualifying until a last session 6.09 sealed his place in the field.

Stuart Bishop’s first session 6.14 earned him seventh spot in the field and a race day position in the staging lanes.

Deno Brijeski missed the first session and would lay down two 6.2 times but miss the field.

Tony De Felice tried to move into the field but popped the blower in this second session pass.

Murray O’Connor knew he had a chance at making the field but a 6.46 was all he could muster from the XM Falcon. He was lucky that missing the field was the worst thing that happened to him…

…as Robin Judd got way loose in the second session and almost hit him, in an eerily similar incident to the O’Connor vs Carbone tangle. Believe it or not the cars did not touch here!

MacLean shows off a bit of battle damage from his scuffle with the wall.

Peter Kapiris attempted to lay down a quick pass but tyre smoke on all three runs, including this last qualifier, ended his chances.

A nervous Maurice Brennan could only watch and see if his last blast 6.24 would hold on to a spot in the field but Gregorini, Croker and Bray would all go on to beat his time.

Ben Bray pedalled his Monaro viciously for a 6.11 in the last qualifying session after sitting outside of the field.

Those outside the field were given a chance to make some test runs on the Saturday. Dave Simpson took the opportunity to get some more laps down in his Mustang.

Ivan Skaramuca popped the blower on this pass.

To add insult to injury Brennan almost hit the wall on his pass and drove the car back up the return road. His weekend would get worse later in the night when he had an accident on the freeway during the trip home, fortunately both Maurice and his Commodore were not hurt.

Greg Carter from Pro Auto presented Robin Judd with a bonus cheque for his top qualifying effort before round one.

The first match up between Mark Belleri and Gary Phillips saw Phillips’s Studebaker shake and pedal as Belleri romped to a consistent 5.99.

John Zappia gets the uppper hand as Stu Bishop pops the supercharger when he gets on the two step. What looked like an easy win for Zappia however would mean an engine change.

Two Monaros but two different runs with Ben Bray shaking his way out to the centreline while Maurice drives through for a 5.96 win.

Something was also going amiss underneath the bonnet of Bray’s Monaro.

The upset of the event came in round one as Daniel Gregorini knocked out number one qualifier Robin Judd with a holeshot. Gregorini played the startline well and Judd had to pedal early with his 6.11 never reining in a 6.14.

Old Monaro defeated new Monaro in the semi finals with Zappia’s 6.00 overcoming a 6.17.

While it was Camaro vs Camaro in the second semi final, Belleri proving super consistent with a 6.00 also, but two thousandths behind Zappia to hand over lane choice.

It was then the rain came down at about 10:10pm. However the track crew set about drying the track with every piece of equipment on hand and a return to racing was on at 10:50pm.

The track was cold and only a few spectators hung for the conclusion of the event but they would witness what could be considered another upset as John Zappia started to shake around the 60 ft mark and Belleri would drive past for a 6.10 win.

“It’s been awesome, thanks to Dad for letting me drive his car and thrash it,” Belleri said after his victory.

“All the crew have been working so hard, changing clutches and doing everything, thank you guys without you I wouldn’t be up here holding this trophy.”

Zappia was happy to even up the championship.

“It’s good to get a couple of runs back up on Juddy and equal the score across the four of us now,” he said.

“We had a big thrash to change the engine before the semis but it paid off.”

Top Bike

Fifteen bikes entered but with the Attitude Racing Team having some troubles in the pits only 13 bikes would make qualifying passes.

Chris Matheson set a hot pace early with a 6.12/218 to top qualify.

Sam Parker watches some belts roll away.

Mark Drew sounded his intentions early in the weekend with 6.60 and 6.59 passes in qualifying to end up in second.

Jay Upton had two tyre smoking runs to start his qualifying and he was left susceptible to being bumped with a 7.24/201…he would come back for the last session though with a 6.67 at only 144mph, after a stunning half track time of 3.94, not to mention the 1.01 60ft time. In comparison Matheson’s 6.12 had a 4.06!

Kim Stevens was the last of the six second runners with a 6.94/200.

Phil Parker ran a personal best 7.10/191 in the first session but in the second had some troubles with fire at half track.

Phil’s son Sam Parker also had dramas in the same session, with his bike having some fire in the braking area.

Marc Ryder, the man with one of the best names for the bracket, ran a 7.15 for sixth place.

Wayne Barrett laid down a 7.28 on the ex-BSR Harley but withdrew at the end of qualifying.

Troy McLean returned to riding in good fashion with a 7.32 which was initially on the bump.

Terry Burnett thought he would miss race day but came back courtesy of Barrett withdrawing, his 7.42 clinching the spot.

Mick Murray’s 7.51 just missed the field…

…as did Chris Porter’s 7.60.

Dennis Grant continued to have big issues keeping his machine on full power with some wild tank slappers. A 7.73 was his best run for qualifying but left him in 11th spot.

Matheson defeated Burnett in round one 6.31/196 to 7.10/196 but things got hairy in the braking area when the wind blew Matheson towards Burnett and the two only just avoided colliding.

Parker was shut down on the line and left to watch Stevens make a troubled 11 second pass.

Drew’s 6.69/215 seemed to have the win over a 7.04 from McLean that took out the finish line beams, but when the exhaust flew off Drew’s bike (you can see it in the right hand side of the photo against the wall), almost hitting McLean, officials deemed that the greater infraction and he was disqualified…

…Drew would return later however for a  stunning 6.43 pass.

Ryder upset Upton in the first round when Upton lost power at half track, Ryder on and off the throttle for a 7.79 win.

Matheson scorched to his quickest half track time of the weekend, 3.95/196, for a 6.30/169 win against Stevens in the semis.

McLean got close to the wall against Ryder, who was having to do some leaning himself, but a 7.21 was good for victory.

After the rain racing resumed but Matheson could not start his bike in time for the race and McLean took a solo for the win, his first since the days of the Brett Stevens Racing team.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Eight bikes turned up for the Pro Stock Motorcycle field and things got tight at the top in qualifying.

Andrew Badcock led the way on the Trevor Birrell owned Dutchmaster Suzuki, with a 7.400 in the rescheduled third qualifying session, which was moved after the track hit curfew the night before.

A 7.407 from Maurice Allen was close for Milwaukee Tools but had to settle for second.

Phil Howard had a new motor in his Kawasaki and a 7.409 proved its abilities.

Locky Ireland’s weekend did not start well as he had to shut down in Q1.

Michael Gilbertson looks somewhat surprised as his Suzuki kangaroo hopped off the start line.

A round one upset occurred with number eight qualifier Peter Cochrane cranking out a (then) low ET of 7.38 to beat Badcock’s 7.41.

Gilbertson shook the tyre off the line and went out to the centre, not catching Ireland.

Allen’s 7.51 was too good for Luke Crowley’s 7.97.

Glenn Wooster had a race winning .129 to .409 holeshot on Howard but he double shifted off the line and Howard passed for a 7.35 win.

A Cochrane red light in the semi finals wasted a 7.63 to send Ireland into his first final in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Allen gave Howard a whipping on the tree and held the lead for a 7.43 to 7.37 holeshot win.

After the break for the rain it was game on but on the cool track Ireland slipped off the line, you can see his tyre spinning here, and Allen overcame the holeshot for a 7.44 win.

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