REPORT: Atura Championship crowns its champions

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The 2016 Atura Championship Series that decides Sydney Dragway’s Track Champions has come to close after seven events over the course of the year. 

With the penultimate round washed out, it produced some thrilling racing as racers scrambled for last ditch points in their championship chases. Though the series did swap sanction from ANDRA to IHRA for the last two rounds and this did have an effect on entry numbers in some classes, as well as a clash with the ANDRA Summit Sportsman Series at Calder Park.

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Into the racing and starting off with Top Comp, and the class really was only used as a test bed for most racers, Jeff Wilson finished on top of the championship points, with the last round only having Dave Roberts testing his turbo EE/DA dragster. Congratulations though to the young Junior Dragster graduate on running a seven second pass, only touching on the potential of the machine.

Just a note, we have not received official confirmation of the bracket champions yet, but rather we are relying on our mathematical prowess to determine the winners – so the results are subject to officialdom.

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The Super Comp championship was in the similar vein as Top Comp with the majority of racers just happy to test. The final round was won by Andrew Maratos in his CC/SM RX3 on solo when opponent Domenic Rigoli failed to make the call. Rigoli had just come off a personal best 6.91 driving for customer Billy Rajab in his AA/SM 300ZX.

It looks like Matt Lisle will hold onto the championship crown amassing 220 points in his CC/SC 200SX, even though he did not contest the last round in favour of running in Modified Bike at Calder Park.

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Supercharged Outlaws was essentially a battle in three going into the final round with John Ward taking a 30 point lead into the event over Norm McCormack and Andrew Hodgson. With only 5 cars entered the possibility was still there for a challenge to the title, but during qualifying Shaun Liefting had his chute get sucked under the car and wrapped around the diff sending the altered deep into the sand, causing quite a mess underneath. This meant he was on the trailer and with racing reduced down to just the two rounds meaning Ward could not be pegged back, and yet another track championship would go the way of the HPW dragster. Hodgson in the Avenger funny car made the final event count still, taking the win over Anthony Bool’s Falcon in the final with a tidy 6.571 on a 6.55 dial in.

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One those titanic battles was in Top Sportsman with points leader Jason Stares not in the pits blowing the field wide open, and racing got juicier when the next in points Colid Boyd went red in round one with his Chevelle. As the event shook out, the winner of the Joe Sorbello – who has made more passes down Sydney Dragway than pretty much anybody else – versus Ronnie Palumbo final would take the championship. With a mere 6 thou advantage at the green, Sorbello’s supercharged Skyline broke out by a couple of hundredths and Palumbo’s safe 8.790 on a 8.75 took the double – event win and track championship.

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Brendon Luke’s round two showing secured him a deserved Modified championship, his injected slingshot FED has been dominate all season with three event wins. Chris Manks continued his good form from East Coast Thunder to reach the final against Graham Elliot’s dragster, but the track bit the altered in the final as Manks had to wrestle the car away from the wall and aborted the run, allowing Elliot’s dragster to drive away for an easy win.

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It was certainly a day of mixed fortunes for Michael Little who was defending his Super Sedan points leads from heavy hitters Jim Denaro and Sean Maher going into the event. During qualifying it had looked like Little’s day was done when the Torana pumped out a smokescreen of oil, fortunately it turned out to be a broken fitting on the oil cooler for the transmission, and despite a messy cleanup needed, he would front round one. Little picked up the win over Martin Stevenson in round one ruling out Denaro from the championship chase, and in the next pairing final contender Maher went red by seven thou handing the title to Little. Denaro did exact some revenge by handing a holeshot beating to Little in the final with a 9.825 on a 9.82 defeating a 9.432 on a 9.43 – that is some hard racing.

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Modified Bike was really a race in two again between two regular championship rivals in Matthew Hunt and Robert Simmonds. A 30 point lead to Hunt would be a tough ask to pull back, but when Hunt broke out in round one against Mark Walmsley it was game on, with Simmonds needing to reach the final to overtake the points lead. A bye in round two for the Hayabusa rider was a bonus, then in the semi Simmonds overcame a huge holeshot defeating Hunt’s slayer in Walmsley in a flat out double breakout dual across the stripe that would earn the “Simmonator” yet another track championship. Simmonds pulled a cherry in the final against Lorenzo Capogna aboard his V-Rod who finished off the season strongly with three straight finals.

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The Super Street points were very tight with seven racers in with a shot. James Barnes, last year’s Super Sedan track championship was back in his XT Falcon Super Streeter and ensured he would claim another series win by reaching the final against Stan Nikitaras. A break out from Barnes in the final gave Nikitaras the win and the Capri racer some consolation for narrowly missing out on the points needed to earn another championship.

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There was no Super Gas field with most racers running at Calder Park, Naomi Lightowler was the only car entered and was resigned to doing test runs. Darryl Stephen will end up with the track championship trophy.

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It was close at the top in Junior Dragster as the Hazzard brothers, John Fenech and Georgia Fardella were the main combatants on the premises duking it out for the title. Points leader Jack Hazzard suffered horrendous luck in round one after his opponent Josh Leonello red lit, Hazzard continued to drive the dragster out the back door for a 8.498, 2 thou under the allowable B/JD 8.50 limit and disqualifying himself under first or worst. James Hazzard and Fenech were gone in round two leaving Fardella needing to win her round three race which would tie her in points with Fenech and be unbeatable. A 8.522 on a 8.51 with a .010 light forced her opponent Antonio Panetta to break out, and by our math should of given her the track championship. Nick Polito eliminated Fardella in the semi and would go on to win the event over a reinstated Leonello who red lit again in the final, throwing away a perfect 8.040 on a 8.04 pass in his final ever pass in Juniour Dragster.

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Danny Stadelmaier had a 50 point lead going into the Street Fighter decider, and even with a round one loss, no one could catch him. Wayne Smith and Cherie Luke fought out the final, Smith winning in his Commodore with  13.75 on 13.48 to Luke’s 13.66 on a 13.20.

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Street Bike was probably the hottest bracket going into the final round with more than half a dozen racers in with a serious shot of winning the championship. Round one took out two of the equal leaders in Stefan Stivala who red lit and a breaking out Donald Baird. Round two saw the other equal points leader Travis Anderson slow up on the top end when his visor flew off and was unable to catch Sean Ricketts. Down to the semi finals and Ricketts was still in the hunt as to Bobbie-Jo Simmonds and Brian Vernon so it was serious now. Vernon went down on a holeshot from Chris Costello and likewise Ricketts in what was now a race for the title stopped a Simmonds husband and wife championship double also on a holeshot. Costello picked a -.016 cherry off the tree in the final capping off Ricketts perfect day.

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The Danglmaier rout in HAMBster was thwarted this year by Ezio Cacciotti who finished the year with 5 final appearances in 6 rounds, including a win at this event ramming home a dominate championship crown. 

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