Santo’s Summer Thunder is underway at Sydney Dragway, with a scorching day greeting sportsman qualifying and pro testing.
With a maximum temp of some 40 degrees in the pits, some racers elected to head home after the early qualifying sessions while others waited for the cooler evening to make some laps.
So warm was the track that it was given a washdown to take out the heat.
Lamattina Top Fuel Racing were the only Top Fuel team to make runs, giving Kelly Bettes and new driver Cameron Ferre a look at the track. Bettes hit a 3.98/295mph run under the lights, while Ferre made a shorter hit to just after the 330 feet marker to get familiar with the YBI dragster.
Phil Read was due to make a run, but had an o-ring failure in the warm up.
Pro Slammer had more cars on track, with John Zappia the quickest of the bunch following a 5.73/251mph run in the second session. It came opposite a 5.80/253mph from Paul Mouhayet in what proved an entertaining match up for the hardcore fans who turned out to watch testing. Arguably Zappia’s earlier 5.76 run in 38 degree heat was more impressive however.
Sam Fenech was second quickest with a 5.74/252mph in his Camaro, while Steven Ham went as quick as 5.87. Privateer Geoff Gradden joined the five second fun with a 5.96 from his Saratoga.
Looking for more pics? Santo’s Summer Thunder Day One Gallery.
Top Bike had several teams on track fighting the conditions. John Zahra is getting more and more on top of his blown multi-cylinder and in the heat of the day went 2.77 to the 330 feet timer – which would be equivalent to about a 6.2 second run over the full quarter mile. Jay Upton was happy just to get past the tyre shake zone he has been battling, though he didn’t make a full pass. Rod Barchet managed an early shut off 7.46 on his nitrous bike.
Danny Makdessi sits atop Pro Extreme qualifying with a 6.58/214 from the big Valiant. Gina Bullians is second with a 6.86, but the team had some work to do after she went into the sand.
“The parachutes got tangled,” she said. “The brakes did an okay job on their own wiping off most of the 200mph speed but I ended up backing the RX8 into the gravel trap.
“Both me and the car are fine, a touch of damage to the nose cone but we are ready to go for racing tomorrow.”
Alex Borg leads Extreme Bike qualifying thanks to a 7.29/198mph effort but the rest of the field (which coincidentally are all Suzuki Hayabusas too) are breathing down his neck with the top four riders separated by 0.14 of a second.
Super Stock sees Daniel Camilleri in number one with a .08 over 7.43 in the DD/GA Pontiac Firebird.
Chris Collin holds sway in Competition Bike with a .30 over 8.29 on his B/AB Suzuki Hayabusa.
Joseph Murina’s 6.47 leads an eight car Supercharged Outlaws field, with Bill Fletcher’s 6.88 making him the only other driver in the sixes.
Steve Fowler is the only driver in the sixes in Top Sportsman following a 6.93 pass in the family Pontiac.
Simon Barlow, Jess Turner and Chris Manks are going toe to toe for the number one position in Modified. Barlow’s 6.80 currently has the edge over Jess Turner’s PB 6.88. Manks’ 6.91 is keeping the altereds in touch.
Patrick Barron has Super Sedan under control right now with an 8.80.
Modified Bike features David Hutchison on top, his 8.64 squeaking ahead of an 8.70 by Robert Simmonds.
Ray Ross is almost three tenths of a second ahead in Super Street following a 10.28 in his Valiant Charger.
One of the biggest sportsman fields is in Junior Dragster, where Jackson Perri’s 8.01 leads from an 8.02 by Jordan Spencer and an 8.03 from Samuel Perri.
Michael Derose went close to perfect in Super Sedan with a 9.901 to lead the way.
Make sure to check out our gallery from day one.
Sportsman racing begins on Saturday from 11am, with pro shakedowns from 1.45pm and then pro racing from 4.30pm.