Two names have come to the fore in the ANDRA Pro Series battles of Top Doorslammer and Top Bike, establishing themselves as legitimate threats to the championship.
Perth racer Robin Judd has been around the Top Doorslammer category for years, but his start to the 2009/2010 season has been his most impressive yet, securing two round wins in a row at Willowbank and Perth and taking an impressive points buffer into the next round in Sydney.
Judd has been racing on the Top Doorslammer circuit for over 11 years, taking many event wins in that time but still yearning for a championship.
The mild mannered accountant did accomplish one of his goals at the third round of the championship, finally winning an event at his home track – Perth Motorplex.
Considering he does all of his testing there, it was somewhat overdue, but followed a change in the engine department of the supercharged Studebaker which meant the team did not have as much data to go on.
The changes proved successful with a string of 5.8s passes putting Judd’s William Buck/K&B Exclusive team right back at the front after submitting to fellow Western Australian John Zappia in last season’s series.
“We changed our combination a few months ago during the Kwinana off season and it worked well over east, coming back here we had to reset our combo again,” he said.
The pick up in pace of Top Doorslammer has stunned even the old hands like Judd. A regular 6.0s car is no longer competitive and the performances are rapidly approaching the next barrier – 5.7 seconds.
“Who would have thought we would be running in the 80s consistently, even just a couple of years ago,” he said.
“I think 70s are definitely possible and we’d like to be the first ones to run it, where it goes from there, who knows?”
Even running the once elusive “five” is no guarantee of a win any more, as reigning champion Zappia found out at the Perth event, with a 5.83s (just .01 off the national record) losing to a 5.88s from Ben Bray in the first round. Bray’s better reaction time on the start line was what secured him the win with the slower time.
Judd knows Zappia will be resurgent in his championship defence.
“I suspect he will come back with a vengeance, he was a little stiffed to lose in the first round,” he said.
“It’s an expensive exercise to go out early at these bonus points rounds, I’ve had it happen to me before.”
For now Judd has some breathing room, sitting on 315 points, with Maurice Fabietti running second on 265 points and Zappia in third on 233 points.
If there is one type of motorsport that was ever only for the brave, then Top Bike drag racing is it. The pilots hold on to nitro burning motorcycles that accelerate at some 3G and reach top speeds of over 360kmh. The run can be easy, slowing down often isn’t.
Chris Matheson found this out most recently in Sydney when after a 360.48kmh top speed he had some difficulty pulling the bike up and went into the sand trap, flipping the bike over but fortunately leaving the rider relatively unscathed.
Remarkably the Nitro Voodoo team fixed the motorcycle and Matheson was able to exorcise his demons the next day.
“I was lucky I could back on the bike on the Sunday. It’s like a push bike or a pony, you need to get straight back on and make sure the bugs don’t come into your head,” he said.
“If I didn’t get back on it would have been a long wait to come back over here.”
Despite the Sydney incident, Matheson has otherwise enjoyed a successful start to his debut season in Top Bike, winning the first event of the ANDRA Pro Series and then taking a runner up most recently in Perth.
It has put him into the points lead, with 295 points. He is followed by two marauding Western Australians, Jay Upton on 285 and Kim Stevens on 255.
Matheson’s machine was imported from the USA and has previously run into the “fives”, a feat not yet achieved on a motorcycle in Australia.
As yet the team has made only one run close to full throttle for the length of the track – that fateful pass in Sydney. It is understandable that Matheson is only twisting the throttle for as long as he needs to win the race – a disciplined approach with over 1000 horsepower ready to be called on.
“We’re walking in little steps at the moment, getting some more track time so I can get a feel for it,” he said.
“We’ll keep the throttle open when we need to, at the moment it is scary enough just trying to ride the thing. The bike has potential, it really boogies.”
Matheson’s most potent rival for the championship will be Jay Upton, whose streamlined motorcycle recently stole back the national record, setting it to 6.11s.
Matheson met Upton in the final in Perth, but couldn’t quite stop the rampant West Aussie.
“Jay whooped me on the start line, he just got away and it was all over. I got off it early when I saw a bit of shrapnel coming out the back of Jay’s bike so I jumped back on the gas but he was too far gone,” Matheson said.
The next ANDRA Pro Series round for Top Doorslammer will be held in Sydney in February while the Top Bike riders wait until March for their round in Perth.
This article was published in Motorsport News in December 2009.