Nationals Blast Off

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Friday qualifying, at this years’ Fuchs Australian Nationals, produced a mixed bag of results. Once again the fickle weather took its toll on some of the enormous field of racers’ present.

The days racing was initially marred by showers and then once underway mother nature eventually turned on a warm afternoon. That was all to change as the winds picked up and temperatures nose dived creating havoc with the higher horspower cars.

Andrew Cowin set the pace with a 4.62 in session 1
Andrew Cowin kicked the Group One proceedings off running a solid 4.62/317 mph in the Rocket industries sponsored fueler, living up to all the pre-season expectations of this team. Other standout runs of the session  included a tough 4.726 from Phil Read and a 4.74/ 309mph run from the AEG fueler of Darren Morgan. Local duo of Bob Shepherd and Terry Sainty laid down side by side low 5’s with the later driver experiencing some fireworks through the traps. All other teams, including last season championship winner Martin Stamatis, struggled to get down the track.

The second round of qualifying for Top Fuel took place at 7:40pm and with track temperatures hovering in the 50’s, stout times were always going to be tricky. The seeding for this round were made as per the point standing for the Louis Rapisarda Tribute Trophy with the four winners of this round to face off in tomorrow’s third round in search for a final pairing in qualifying come last qualifier.

Moving through to face each other tomorrow are Darren Morgan with a 4.80/269 over Sainty with a troubled 10.5 pass. Bob Shepherd, who got the better of a pedal fest with Alan Dobson.  A 6.75 over a 7.147 was the result there. Mark Mariani  who had a lucky escape when Phil Read’s engine went silent after the burnout ( maybe hitting the fuel shut off accidently). Mariani himself had issues after 330 ft and coasted through.




A ball of fire from Stamatis silhouettes the
ext up Stamatis had a win but not without a massive fireball  from half track to take out Cowin, who could not make the rocketship stick on the cold track.

“You can’t make these cars run with track conditions like these” commented Graham Cowin after the run.

Meanwhile Lamattinna on a  solo improved his qualifying position with a 4.78 ET at a big 321.50 mph to take top speed so far. Difilippo also improved but is a long way off pace with a  6.858 timeslip.







Phillips lays down a the law in session 1
In Top Alcohol Gary Phillips proved that he is on track to keep that gold number one on the side of his Monte Carlo, immediately setting the pace with a 5.54/258 mph pass. Steve Ham ran a strong 5.69/250 mph pass to see him second after the first qualifier. Surprise of the evening was Adam Marchant who continues to improve with a 5.70/ 243 mph. On the bump is Rick Gauci with a 6.056/235 mph pass. Sitting on the outside after this qualifier is Dennis Byth and Debbie Read who suffered engine issues.







Top Doorslammer  was expected to be one of the stand-out brackets of the event, with the possibility of an all 5 second field a reality. Unfortunately, at there allocated qualiying time a 60 degree track temperature paid put to the efforts of many when a large proportion of drivers were unable to make a representative pass.

Judd takes the first round
Robin Judd’s William Buck Studebaker did the best to handle the tricky conditions with a 5.860/ 244 mph to lead the field, just ahead of a 5.939/ 245  from Gary Phillips, also in a Studebaker. Maurce Fabietti was the only other driver in the 5’s and claimed third spot. Current champion John Zappia is out of the eight car field and currently sitting in the number 12 position. Peter Kapiris also struggled with the track in his new Saratoga. Other big names such as Ben and Victor Bray, Matt Abel and Sean Misfud all sit outside of the field whilst a skating Stuart Bishop sits on the bump with a soft 6.52 pass.

Matheson in a class of his own






Top Bike sees Chris Matheson on top with an impressive 6.161 at  201 mph, which was more than 1 second in front of the next qualifier Chris Porter.  Nearly all the other Top Bike contenders struggled tonight with either mechanical issues or the cold track.





Pro Stock held high expectations with a record setting 24 contenders looking for Nationals glory.  For the nineteen drivers attempting the session, it was soon seen that the track held many racers to ransom. Surprise number one is Shane Tucker, laying down a strong 7.074/ 193.40 pass that set the bar. The only other driver to produce an “0” was the Rooster powered Ford of John Barbagello.  We then had 7 cars in the 7.1 second range, including Tyronne and Aaron Tremayne and the Mopar of Lee Bektash. Sitting on the bump in number 16 is newcomer Arthur Kolaroff.  Dave Newcombe at this point is outside of the field.

Look out for some quantum leaps in performance in tomorrow’s second qualifier with the promise of good conditions quick ET’s will be on the cards for these naturally aspirated beasts.




Badcock a close second to an in form Cochrane
Pro Stock Bike had eight bikes make passes. Peter Cochrane and Andrew Badcock lead the field with passes of 7.339 and 7.334 respectively. This bracket will no doubt prove entertaining in tomorrow’s qualifying rounds. The sportsman categories are also starting to take their shape for the weekend.

Once again, it seems that cold weather may have got the better of the racers. Tomorrow, however will be a different story with a forecast for fine weather and 23 degree temperatures will bring high expectations for a barnstorming Group one, 3pm qualifying session. Other groups commence racing at 9am. 



Remember if you can’t be at the track, is the next best place to be! Fire up the live audio from the Sydney Dragway website then join us in the Dry Hops from the track shout box  on the front page, that will  allow you to express your excitement with other drag racing fanatics live online.

full results including sportsman qualifying here.

All qualifying results here

Photos by Rob Sparkes &

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