Morgan shuts down US challenger in Winters finals charge

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Newly crowned Australian Top Fuel Champion, Darren Morgan put in a stunning performance at the re-running of the Castrol EDGE Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway, only to be cruelly robbed of a chance to win the coveted Title.

The inclement weather that struck the event back on the June Long Weekend returned on Saturday. The AEG Powertools/Hungry Jacks Mildura team had Morgan’s brand new dragster ready for a qualifying pass only to have precipitation blanket the circuit each time track crews prepared the surface.

Officials finally deemed late Saturday afternoon that no racing would take place and that the event would proceed straight into eliminations on Sunday.

“We’re ecstatic but deflated at the same time,” Morgan said. “We were really wanting to go out and win the Castrol EDGE Winternationals just to underline our season.

With fine weather finally hitting the Willowbank Raceway, the Mildura Missile was granted no less than current world number three Cory McClenathan as a first round opponent.

In what would be a dream finals matchup, Morgan had to contend with McClenathan – a noted reaction time specialist – and a brand new racecar.

It didn’t faze him one iota – the orange projectile (literally) straight out of the box fired down the 400 metre circuit in a time of 4.726 at 309.34mph (498kph) to McClenathan’s 4.903 second run. Morgan had the superior reaction time as well much to the delight of his crew.

“It’s not every day you get to race one of the best guys in the world and when you get a chance to beat him – you have to take it!,” said Morgan.

Knowing the car was capable of getting the job done gave Morgan even more confidence heading into round two, where he met McClenathan’s stablemate, Mark Mariani.

Again, the Mildura Missile didn’t miss a beat, getting down with a smokey 4.79 at 300mph even (483kph).

Morgan was due to face last round finalist, Damien Harris in the Final, however just as the engines were due to fire into life, rain blanketed the Willowbank circuit, ending the chance for Morgan to underscore his 2010/2011 ANDRA Pro Series Championship victory.

“It would have meant a lot to us to finish the season with a win,” he said.

“It is really unfortunate that the final was rained out, I think the fans and the sponsors deserved to see a conclusion to the meeting – but mother nature is the one element you cannot control.

The hunt now continues for commercial partners for the new season, which starts in just eight weeks time with the Australian Nationals at Sydney International Dragway.

“It’s going to be a big few weeks with the Nationals just around the corner. We’ll be working hard to secure the support we need to go through next season,” he said.

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