Ham returns from wilderness

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Mobil 1 backed Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Steve Ham has burst out of the wilderness that has held him ransom since last season, to make the finals of Sydney Dragway’s X Champs.

An almost untraceable fault in the clutch set up was discovered in the lead up to the Sydney event while testing and has unchained the ECL Racing Mustang to get back into the finals for the first time since their last visit to Sydney for the 2013 Nationals.

“Really the only ray of light until now this season was when we top qualified and set the top speed at Willowbank at Easter, and that just added to the confusion at the time, but now it all makes sense,” he said. “So now we know what was holding us back, we have to get used to tuning it properly again and start chasing some numbers.”

The runner up spot from the weekend boosts the ECL Racing team back into fourth out of twenty racers who’ve contested the series so far, with only 53 points separating the top four, making Top Alcohol the tightest of all the Group 1 brackets.

“This would have to the the closest and widest open field Top Alcohol has been for a long time. Whoever wins this championship will well and truly have earned it, but our chance to capitalise will be at Willowbank for the Winternationals in just under a month,” he said. “We’ve been in the finals twice at the Winters and won it in 2007, so we know we have a really quick car and we’ll come out all guns blazing and try and get that record back off Gary (Phillips).”

Ham also revealed this week that popular Briz31 channel automotive show, “Wide Open Throttle” will be following the team’s Winternationals journey to capture the behind-the-scenes drama that drag racing is famous for, as part of an upcoming special that will also slate Ham up against racers from other disciplines in a go kart challenge.

“This is great exposure for ECL more than anything, but it will be great to have a camera crew come and invade our pit space for the Winters, and then when we have the showdown with some circuit and speedway racers as well,” he said. “They all think that drag racers only know how to go straight, but little do they know that our whole job is about turning left and right, to make sure the car goes straight! So we probably know a lot more about controlling a car than they think!”

The remaining three rounds of the championship after Ham returns home to Willowbank will take the ECL Racing Mustang to the extreme ends of the nation, with a July round in Darwin, a return to Sydney for the Nationals in November and the team’s first appearance in Victoria for the Grand Finals at Calder in December.

“We’ll do nearly 13,000 kilometres before the season’s end, so you have to be confident that you’re going to show up with a competitive package and prior to last weekend we were a bit tentative, but now we’re like a bull at a gate and can’t wait to get out there again!”


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