Grant O’Rourke claims top position in NT Titles qualifying

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Grant O’Rourke surged to the top of the qualifying charts in balmy conditions during qualifying for Round 2 of Top Doorslammer in the ANDRA Drag Racing Series at Hidden Valley Drag Strip on Friday.

O’Rourke set the early pace in the opening session with a 5.922 elapsed time at 246.84 mph that looked to hold firm with only Peter Kapiris challenging in Q2 on a pass of 5.926 at 233.92 mph.

A dramatic final session saw eight-time back-to-back champion John Zappia recover from a big backfire in Q1, missing Q2, and coming up big in the clutch moment with a 5.907 ET at 248.43 mph to temporarily take the number one.

Zappia wouldn’t stay there for long as Territory local Matt Abel claimed a seemingly unbeatable 5.870 ET at 236.59 mph in the penultimate pass of the night to put the field on notice.

But the best was yet to come as O’Rourke, enjoying a solid streak of consistency, blitzed the field with a 5.838 ET at 249.12 mph to secure pole position.

“It feels awesome,” said O’Rourke. “It’s a lot more humid than it was here a month ago, we’re all backed into a different corner and in the same boat.

“We couldn’t be happier, we’ve put in the effort and without getting into it, we had a whole heap of trouble with a lot of other little things during the whole day so to get most of the stuff working was great. I’m really proud of the boys.

“The only real difference from the 5.79 (last month) to the 5.83 is the conditions to be brutally honest. I’m not saying we would have and could have but it’s a lot hotter, a lot more humid, but everyone is in the same boat.

“We’re there tomorrow night and you’ve got to be there to start off so it should be good.”

O’Rourke will meet fellow Queenslander Ben Bray in eliminations after he qualified in eighth while Abel will face Pat Carbone, Zappia takes on Mark Belleri and Kapiris goes head to head with Gary Phillips.

Surprisingly Round 1 winner Paul Cannuli missed the field experiencing problems on a lone 10-second pass with Pino Priolo (9th), Murray O’Connor (10th), Daniel Gregorini (11th) and Robin Taylor (12th) joining him in the non-qualifier shootout.

Eliminations commence from 6pm on Saturday with local Sportsman qualifying underway from 5pm. Gates open from 12pm.

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