Phillips claims bonus points hat-trick

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Gary Phillips has claimed his third straight “top speed” and second straight “low elapsed time” from a rain ravaged third round of ANDRA Pro Series Top Alcohol last weekend, and despite the event not reaching eliminations status, the Lucas Oils Team bagged every bonus point on offer.

With only the three rounds of qualifying completed before rain spoiled the weekend, Phillips had enough strong runs on the board to claim the 5.643 low elapsed time, 253.90mph top speed and top qualifying bonus points and despite the oppressive heat and humidity, the top qualifying pass was one-tenth of a second quicker than the number 2 spot. This afforded him the chance to gain eleven points on current series leader, Aaron Hambridge.

“It seems like we were the only ones to benefit from the weekend, but in reality we really needed a few rounds of eliminations this weekend to really have a good chance at the championship,” a slightly nervous Phillips said, also acknowledging the plight of fellow racer Debbie Reed who suffered a severe crash in the first round of qualifying.

“Our heart goes out to Debbie and the whole family with that sickening crash. The Top Alcohol ranks just aren’t complete without those guys and I hope they can make it back out here soon.”

And with the Top Alcohol Championship temporarily put on ice, the attention turns back to the ANDRA Pro Series Top Doorslammer battle that will return to Willowbank on January 14 and 15, with the Lucas Oils Studebaker sitting fifth on the ladder.

“We’ve been in the five second bracket a few times in the Lucas Oils Studebaker, but to be competitive now you have to make the 5.8 zone consistently so we’ve decided that we need to take one step back to take two steps forward. That’s why we’ve brought a lock-up clutch into the deal and it’s a whole new learning curve for us,” an optimistic Phillips said.

Despite bowing out in the first matchup of the last round in Perth, Phillips believes that the Lucas Oils team is right on target to make this season count in the ANDRA Pro Series school of hard knocks.

The Lucas Oils Studebaker qualified fifth for the tight eight car field with 6.09 at 243.24 mph pass, but a pedalling 6.69 in round one wasn’t enough to dispose of New South Welshman Mark Belleri who went on to win the event.

“We were really happy about what we learned that weekend, and it’s just a matter now of taking our new data and transferring that into race wins.”

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