Darren Morgan and Luke Crowley appear to have a lock on their respective ANDRA Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle championships after victory at Fuchs Nitro Thunder presented by Crow Cams on Saturday at Melbourne’s Calder Park Raceway.
In front of over 7000 Melbourne race fans, the ANDRA Drag Racing Series marked its return after 12 years away from Australia’s sporting capital with thrilling action across three ANDRA pro categories.
Morgan defeated event debutante John Lamattina in a close fought final with Morgan’s 4.322 narrowly defeating a 4.556 from Lamattina.
Morgan paid credit to his crew for their efforts not just at Fuchs Nitro Thunder presented by Crow Cams but across the whole season.
“This crew has been amazing not just today but every time they go to work on this car,” he said.
“(Crew chief) Ben Patterson took a bit of a stab at the tune up today after we had an ignition shut off on one run and then a seized fuel pump in a warm up and sure enough it went down there – he got it right and to do that twice in one day is full credit to him.
“In the run before the final I was on the hand brake trying to keep traction so Ben calmed it down for the final and it sailed on through.”
Morgan defeated chief championship rival Phil Lamattina in the first elimination round and with 74 points now separating the pair, qualifying fifth or better at the Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway in two weeks would mean Morgan wraps up his fourth Top Fuel title.
“Championship wise it is what it is, we take the punches as we swing them,” he said.
Luke Crowley defeated Phil Howard in the final of Pro Stock Motorcycle, the Queenslander crossing the line ahead of the South Australian.
Crowley now leads the championship by 83 points meaning if he qualifies for the field at the Australian Nationals he will earn his first ever national championship.
“We’ve needed a win for a long time now, my crew guys have been slapping me over the back of the head all year so it was good to get out and earn another trophy,” he said.
“Hopefully we go well in two weeks time and maybe get another win at the Australian Nationals.”
Things did not come easy for Crowley, having to replace a transmission during the day after breaking a thrust washer in his first gearbox.
“We put a brand new transmission in it, a new set up and prayed for the first round to be postponed so we could make it there,” he said.
“We didn’t know if it was going to shift gears but it worked so from then we went about hotting it up and tuning it up from there.”
In Top Bike Graeme Morell again proved consistency is king with his small-cube nitro Harley defeating Dennis Grant in the final 6.503 to 6.614.
A glimmer of championship hope remains for Morell but he would need championship leader Chris Porter to have a bad event in Sydney to be in with a shot.
“The championship has flicked through my brain, it makes the finish of the series interesting at least instead of letting someone just tear ahead and win, to be there and be part of it is a good thing,” he said.
“I’ve really got my bike cracking now, the way it carries the front wheel is great and it’s the way they should be ridden. We had the consistency today but we were actually quick too.”
The final round of the ANDRA Drag Racing Series will be the Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway from November 1-3.