Morgan opens season account as Gregorini takes first win

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Darren Morgan showed missing the opening event of the season has done little to slow the Victorian American Imports dragster after taking a win on night two of the 43rd annual Westernationals at Perth Motorplex.

Joining Morgan in winner’s circle activities was Daniel Gregorini, claiming a Top Doorslammer win with consistent 5.9 second passes on a night where just sticking to the track was the name of the game.

So let’s wrap up the final day of the Westernationals including all the sportsman action!

As we noted above, it was Morgan’s day in Top Fuel. Pictured above is the final against Allan Dobson. Dobson took the holeshot and was on a ripper of a pass until the Uplift Cranes dragster started dropping cylinders down track. The 330 foot time was actually quicker than the one recorded by Larry Dizon on his 4.50 pass at Willowbank last year. But Morgan had the top end charge and won the close contest 4.66 to 4.71.

Morgan said the car has new clutch components, blowers and injectors but the team is very happy with the set up.

“We’re really happy with the changes (to the car), it’s perfect,” he said. “Everything is just mint, it goes faster and faster every time we tell it to.”

“The next time we have a good track we’ll run low 60s or high 50s.”

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Allan Dobson had trouble with dropped cylinders for most of the event. In the final the car was loose through the top half of the track and threw a blower belt just before the finish line, allowing Morgan to sneak past.

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Mark Sheehan reached the B Final where he ran a solid 4.69 pass, his best of the event. The car went 3.94 to 1000 feet and went silent just a little before the finish line. Crew chief John ‘Bodie’ Smith returns in three weeks for Sheehan to race his Funny Car.

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After winning on night one, Phil Lamattina was expected to do it again, especially after top qualifying with a 4.69. However a big red light against Sheehan ended his chances of four event wins in a row.

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Damien Harris goes through the traps burning up some parts for Rapisarda Autosport International. The Western Australian driver lost a 4.71 to 5.19 race against Morgan in the elimination round.

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A rule change was made allowing losing teams to make an exhibition pass should the B Final be a solo pass, as was the case with a six car field. Martin Stamatis filled the void on this night. Small issues cost the team over the event, despite some positive early numbers.

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Daniel Gregorini came through for his first win in Top Doorslammer. He defeated Victor Bray in the elimination round with a 5.92 and then went 5.91 in the final, a new personal best. Opponent Gary Phillips was unfortunately unable to front for the race but would have had his work cut out for him, Gregorini’s time impressive considering the humidity and moisture on the track. It was the second time out of three championship rounds this season that there has been a first time winner in Top Doorslammer.

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Ben Bray appeared to have the auto car coming on tune with a 6.12 in qualifying, father Victor also improving with a 6.06. Interestingly, despite just a single qualifying session under the three round format, if it were an eight car field the bump spot would have already been a 6.03! Ben made it to the B Final with a step up to a 6.04.

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Unfortunately in the burnout for the B Final, Ben Bray left a trail of oil. Father Victor and crew member Graeme Frawley were shattered.

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Pino Priolo, runner up in the opening round of the championship, was searching for his first five second pass but it wasn’t to be. He did get a B Final win for his efforts however.

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John Zappia was still runnning the Striker door on his battered Monaro following his Saturday night scuffle with the wall. He lost on a holeshot to arch rival Peter Kapiris in the elimination round.

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Russell Pavey and team worked tirelessly to repair damage from tyre shake on Saturday to make it to the line with just minutes to spare on Sunday. For his efforts Pavey was rewarded with consistent 6.10 and 6.15 runs but a win over Wayne Keys in the elimination round was not quick enough to make it to one of the finals.

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Al McClure emerged champion of the Westernationals in Competition with his BB/FCA on a tear. While still awaiting official confirmation, we believe he knocked the record down from a 6.55 to a 6.45 in the process. So much for that ‘soft’ index!

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David Dequen made it to the final against McClure but threw it away with a red light. Dequen will also have national records to his name, both ET and speed in E/AA.

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The tyre on Rob Pilkington’s Funny Car tries to sort itself out in the first round after tyre shake early. Pilkington was lucky to get by Kirsty Cunningham in the opening stanza.

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Andrew Katavatis was one of the favourites but a -.012 red light in the semi finals against McClure took him out of proceedings.

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Errol Quartermaine bagged the Westernationals, making it two years in a row for turbocharged vehicles in a class typically dominated by natmo cars. Quartermaine was the benefactor of a red light from Jake Chaisty in the final.

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Jodi Racco ran a new personal best of 7.08, making him the quickest Western Australian Pro Stock driver yet.

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South Australian Steve Norman reached the quarter finals where he fell to eventual winner Quartermaine.

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Shane Kosteszyn’s reverse gear attracted much attention, while the dedicated track staff remained focused.

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Ross Smith won his third Westernationals in a row in Competition Bike and reset the C/AB record on his Suzuki Hayabusa. 

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Former national champion Kevin Gummow reached the final to face Smith and gave him a race, but a sleep .199 reaction time was costly.

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Wayne Patterson had worked hard to rebuild his Ducati following a major blow up, but then had a rod break in a burnout during qualifying in a tough break for the Bunbury Dyno team. Pioneering new areas is never easy but this team will be back.

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Ryan Learmonth reached the semi finals for Maca Crushing and Screening but ran into eventual winner Ross Smith.

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Frank Taylor was your Supercharged Outlaws winner, taking advantage of a red light from Ian Foster in the final. That being said, Taylor’s .027 reaction time and dead on 6.820 on a 6.82 in the final would have been a tough pass to beat regardless!

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Ian Foster was left to rue what might have been for the Pace Transport Funny Car after a painful -.008 red light.

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Don Freind smashed up a transmission on the Saturday of the Westernationals but thanks to an overnight rebuild from transmission wiz Chris Dimoff he was able to be back for racing on Sunday. He made it to the quarter finals.

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This was the story of the Modified final as Paul Ryan’s car stalled in the burnout and was unable to refire. Jamie Nelmes took a solo and the win.

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One of the low lights for the event was a two car accident involving Cameron Turner and Brenton Baxter. Turner’s car copped the worst of it with a series of barrell rolls that broke the car in two. 

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Fortunately the young driver was A-OK after the accident in a testament to the safety gear required by racers. Images with thanks to Duncan Turner.

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Ethan Hort won out in a tough Super Sedan field that was filled with young guns by the semi finals. Hort defeated Lorenzo Gullotto with a .024 light and a 9.79 on a 9.78 dial in.

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Lindsay Wood holds on tight to his new baby, an ANDRA gold Christmas tree. The ANDRA steward/racer took his Kawasaki to the winner’s circle, defeating Brian Hotker’s Ducati in the final.

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Darren Bakranich is one of the west’s longest competing and toughest Super Street drivers and nothing had changed come this Westernationals as he earned an ANDRA gold Christmas tree.

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Scott Jeffreys had a rather early -.063 red light in the final of Super Street, which happened to be an all Holden VH Commodore affair.

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Kyle Higgins shakes hands with track announcer Jarrod Maclean as he accepts the winner’s trophy for Junior Dragster.


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