Sensational Sydney – Fuchs Australian Nationals event report

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The 2011 Fuchs Australian Nationals continued Sydney Dragway’s strong recent event performance, great crowds and sensational on track racing.

The event was without a doubt the best organised one ever at the track and despite the rain and serious accident of Grant Williams on the Friday, the event will go down as one of the tracks best on record.

With the limited racing on Friday, crowds poured in Saturday and Sunday the likes that have not been seen for years, a extensive advertising campaign was undertaken and for the first time targeted regional areas as well.

Competitor numbers were down to just under 300 which is a shame for Australia’s most prestigious title, the uncertain drag racing climate probably attributed somewhat to that and a number of others withdrew on a dire weather forecast . However the on track racing was some of the best you will ever witness, world record runs to ground breaking homeland performances, it was certainly one special event and worthy of a Australian Nationals.

TOP FUEL

Top Fuel has come under criticism at times for performance, but when they get it right it is the best show on earth. With all categories reduced to only two qualifying sessions there would be no breathing space to for a easy lap, ten cars would mean two watching Sunday. Qualifying saw an all four second field, not a single oil down and for the first time we even had our first four second non qualifier.

The new national champion Darren Morgan opened qualifying along side Terry Sainty, side by side four’s 4.67 to a 4.96 set the tone for qualifying and Sainty’s first four second pass in a number of years.

Andrew Cowin made a return to cockpit but smoked the tyres in Q1 while American Cory McClenathan made what should be a regular return to our shores legging the Santo fueler through tyre shake to a 5.26

Phil Read on the back of some solid testing in their newest chassis coasted to a 4.96

Lamattina went to P1 with a 4.63, signalling rookie crew chief Aaron Hambridge is coming to grips with tuning a fuel engine, more impressive was the monstrous 327MPH top end charge.

Alongside was Bob Shepherd, it would be the last event for the Quarter Mile Smile who was retiring following the event, Shepherd dearly wanted a 300MPH pass, but on this run a 4.93|295MPH was close but had him in the field.

Luke Shepherd closed out the session in the new look Premier Air dragster, a 5.66 was not what they were looking for part of more concern was the body panels tearing off in the run.

The final session opened with Damien Harris scorching to his best ever ET with a 4.62, giving the BTP Dragster the top spot for now.

Andrew Cowin though made short work of that on the next pass ripping a 4.59|326 MPH run.

Luke Shepherd again disintegrated more body panels, leaving him requiring some medical attention when they impacted his chest. Excessive chassis twist was the reason for the panels exiting, post race inspection determined the chassis was junk and the team are on the hunt for a new car.

Phil Read could not improve leaving the Valvoline dragster team with a nervous wait.

That nervousness was justified with Mariani going a 4.77 and Cory Mac 4.94 in proceeding runs bumping Read out of the field for the first time ever and having the dubious title of the first four second non qualifier in Top Fuel.

Morgan closed out the session with a pyrotechnics display.

Qualifying Order

1 63 T/F ANDREW COWIN HADMAN DRAGSTER TFX 500 4.594 326.71
2 526 T/F DAMIEN HARRIS MC KINNEY DRAGSTR TFX 496 4.623 314.68
3 145 T/F PHILLIP LAMATTINA MC KINNEY D’STER ROD 498 4.630 327.27
4 1 T/F DARREN MORGAN HADMAN DRAGSTER BAE 498 4.676 323.04
5 3546 T/F MARK MARIANI ATTAC DRAGSTER BAE 500 4.776 275.96
6 282 T/F ROBERT SHEPHERD UYEHARA DRAGSTER BAE 498 4.930 295.46
7 796 T/F CORY MC CLENATHAN DRAGSTER BAE 500 4.949 251.58
8 700 T/F TERRY SAINTY SAINTY DRAGSTER SPW 498 4.960 290.07

9 33 T/F PHILIP READ MCKINNEY DRAGSTER TFX 492 4.961 242.84
10 1464 T/F LUKE SHEPHERD MCKINNEY DRAGSTER TFX 498 5.569 243.15

Mariani grenades a engine to Morgan’s 4.81 in round one.

Harris couldn’t back up the lasts nights run his 4.95 being trumped by McClenathan’s improving 4.82.

Andrew Cowin’s 4.72  easily stomped Sainty.

And Lamattina turned the lights out on Bob Shepherd eventful career with a 4.65 to a 5.33

There were some emotional scenes as Shepherd parted for the final time, and true character and hero of the sport.

Cowin’s 4.66 in the first semi smoked a tyre smoking Morgan.

Cory Mac continued to go quicker with a 4.68 at only 294MPH ending Lamattina’s troubled run.

The final revitalised NHRA rivalries, while on September 11 it was also a remembrance for Cory Mac of one of the most tragic days in US history, leaving a emotion charged final round. Cowin banged the blower by 60ft deploying the chute while McClenathan rattled the tyres so hard his chute also fell out leaving a unique site of both cars heading down the quarter with laundry blossoming. Cory Mac though under power hit the first with a 5.66 leaving the American to claim the Australian Nationals victory.

TOP ALCOHOL

Top Alcohol was missing young gun Jamie Noonan and some others but was bolstered to 10 entries with West Aussie Adam Marchant and Debbie O’Rourke.

Qualifying was hot in the top half of the field, newcomer Jon Sting gave everyone a taste of his performance from the Winternationals and a off the trailer 5.52 in the first session held up and the number one qualifier.

Gary Phillips was hot on Sting’s tyre marks with a 5.54 also in the first session.

After blazing the tyres in the first session Ham struck back with a 5.55, one of the few to go quicker in the second session.

Bumping Steve Reed’s 5.63 back to fourth.

Adam Marchant (5.65), Rick Gauci (5.78) and Wayne Newby (5.67) had to rely on their first session times going no better in Q2

Wayne Price bumped in with a 5.76.

That left Debbie O’Rourke and Nitro Champs winner John Cannuli who was still all smiles watching eliminations.

Qualifying Order

1 1162 TA/D JON STING SPITZER DRAGSTER BMR 471 5.522 254.04
2 76 TA/FC GARY PHILLIPS 2009 FORD MUSTANG BAE 511 5.540 256.45
3 2643 TA/FC STEVEN HAM PONTIAC FIREBIRD BAE 511 5.551 254.23
4 15 TA/FC STEVEN REED 2002 CAMARO F/CAR KB 526 5.633 251.91
5 4697 TA/D ADAM MARCHANT DRAGSTER BAE 471 5.655 248.93
6 1 TA/D WAYNE NEWBY MEYER DRAGSTER BAE 489 5.678 251.91
7 1502 TA/FC WAYNE PRICE PONTIAC F/CAR HEMI 526 5.764 243.63
8 4227 TA/FC RICK GAUCI 05 FORD MUSTANG BAE 521 5.784 246.75

9 2946 TA/FC DEBBIE O’ROURKE CHEV CAMARO BAE 526 5.808 241.37
10 113 TA/FC JOHN CANNULI 06 MONTE CARLO BAE 521 5.900 242.80

A huge holeshot advantage to Reed cost Marchant’s 5.66 run, with the dragster not being able to peg back the funny car’s 5.70

Phillips blistered to a 5.61 in the warming conditions over a off pace Price

The tyre shake is back for Newby shaking to a 5.67 on another holeshot win over Ham’s 5.62

Sting’s dragster sounded all kinds of ugly as Gauci put the Aeroflow flopper into the semi’s with a 5.79

Tough launch for Newby ended in shake against Phillips who’s 5.60 was really in the zone.

Controversy struck the second semi final pairing, Reed was timed out on the new 7 second rule when the team was confused going into stage as Gauci brought on the deep stage light instantly, despite not appearing to be in stage. A rerun was sought and awarded to Reed with uncertainty to what happened where it then became apparent to the cause. The identical situation occured during the rerun but Reed was onto it quick and received a clean green and race win after a lot of arm throwing with Gauci trying to stage bringing on the deep stage light again first. It appears after some body repairs following his trek into the sand during qualifying that the body was tripping the deep stage light, though it should of also triggered the pre stage beam its possible a beam may have become slightly misaligned during the day, something ANDRA and Sydney Dragway officials need to ascertain as the car cleared the first round fine albeit in the opposite lane.

That left a all funny car final, Reed really deserves a win after a number of disasters for the team in recent years, while Phillips has been the class act yet again at the event. Reed crossed the finish line first with a 5.62 unfortunately though it involved smashing the timing reflectors at the finish handing the win back along with another Gold Christmas Tree to Phillips.

TOP DOORSLAMMER

Top Doorslammer was most notably down in numbers with only 14 cars in the pits, never the less qualifying was still going to be hectic.

Peter Kapiris finished the season strongly as they have come terms with the new Saratoga and are favourites in many eyes for the championship, off the trailer 5.91 and a big 252MPH had them on top in the first session. There was some doubt over Kapiris being able to compete at the event after recent shoulder surgery had his arm in a sling and fears any tyre shake could cause too much pain to drive.

Running a auto after some confident testing Maurice Fabietti layed down a solid 6.02 the next best in the first session, followed by Robin Judd’s 6.05.

The numbers then fell away with Victor Bray’s 6.30 being the fourth quickest in the first session.

Following a wicked wheels up launch John Zappia scrapped the wall not once but twice on his run.

Mark Belleri ran a 5.90 personal best to move into the top spot at the start of the second session

Geoff Gradden in his first Top Doorslammer event went 6.54 in a pedalling run while Kapiris left before the tree in the other lane.

Ben Bray moved into the field with a 6.02

Then rolled out Judd and Zappia, after Judd’s 5.7 second first in testing against a man capable of anything the anticipation was electric. The West Australian pair did not disappoint producing the quickest side by side run in Australian history we believe, Judd’s 5.86 though paled into comparison though to Zappia’s 5.777 250MPH the quickest Top Doorslammer run ever on Australian soil.

Sean Mifsud driving the Paul Cannuli Camaro squeezed into the final slot with a 6.32, with Victor Bray who has been struggling to make a eliminations appearance after improving to a 6.24.

Gillespie driving Edwin Archnold’s Mustang while the Chev is in the repair shop, Sandgroper Marty Dack, Gary Phillips, John Cannuli, Phillip Glendenning and Geoff Gradden all missed the cut.

Qualifying Order

1 846 T/D JOHN ZAPPIA 71 HQ MONARO HEMI 514 5.777 250.74
2 1693 T/D ROBIN JUDD 1959 STUDEBAKER KB 511 5.868 249.16
3 67 T/D MARK BELLERI CHEV CAMARO TFX 522 5.902 247.16
4 4 T/D PETER KAPIRIS DODGE SARATOGA BAE 521 5.913 252.43
5 2639 T/D BEN BRAY HOLD MONARO COUPE BAE 511 6.022 237.17
6 590 T/D MAURICE FABIETTI 2006 HOLD MONARO BAE 511 6.028 236.17
7 1221 T/D VICTOR BRAY 57 CHEV SEDAN BAE 511 6.245 204.42
8 1291 T/D SEAN MIFSUD 67 CHEV CAMARO JAN 521 6.327 232.15

9 76 T/D GARY PHILLIPS 1953 STUDEBAKER BAE 511 6.345 236.17
10 134 T/D BRETT GILLESPIE 69 FORD MUSTANG BAE 526 6.481 214.62
11 1936 T/D GEOFF GRADDEN CHRYSLER SARATOGA KB 502 6.545 225.48
12 113 T/D JOHN CANNULI 68 CHEV CAMARO BAE 521 6.597 175.57
13 3735 T/D MARTYN DACK FORD BA HEMI 520 6.636 206.99
14 2076 T/D PHILIP GLENDENNING FORD BA BAE 521 6.828 229.35

In round one identical reactions from Kapiris and Ben Bray had the two rivals locked together, a great 5.94 from Bray still fell way short of Kapris’ hauling 5.84.

Belleri and Fabietti met in another all five second dual, a 5.93 from the Camaro stopped Fabietti’s 5.97, his first five with a auto.

Victor took a shot at the tree and came up -.100 short against Judd’s 6.00.

Mifsud ran a 6.00 personal best but Zap was looking menacing easily taking the win with a 5.86.

Judd had a easy win against Belleri when the Camaro went silent early, a 6.11 though is not the performance Judd was looking for.

Zappia went on a wild ride leaving the groove, spinning the tyres, crossing the centreline getting the Monaro all kinds of out of shape, while Kapiris went right down the middle for a 5.93 at another gigantic 253MPH.

What could the final bring, both cars capable of rotating the earth in the 5.7’s, Kapiris had the jump off the line and was never headed with a 5.809 PB at a ground pounding 256MPH, the fastest speed ever by a blown sedan in the country. Judd found the performance with a 5.84 but even that was still not enough ET to stop the Batmobile.

PRO STOCK

With a couple of no shows Pro Stock still had enough to complete a 16 car field and the conditions really lent themselves for the first competition six second pass.

Lee Bektash headed qualifying after the first session with a 7.06

Bill Perdikaris had a strange moment after an aborted run locked up the Escort spinning into the wall leaving minimal damage.

The ET’s plummeted in the cooler second session, Nick Xerakias hit a 7.03 to take pole.

Jason Hedges was not far behind with a great 7.04.

Denis Whiting probably with the biggest surprise of the weekend in the class when he turned a 7.05 for third.

Running the new GXP Shane Tucker got a grip and ran a 7.06 PB.

Aaron Tremayne 7.06, Dave Newcombe 7.07 and Tyronne Tremayne 7.07 rounded out the top half of the field in what would have to be one of the quickest top eight in Pro Stock.

Qualifying Order

1 2193 PRO NICK XERAKIAS ESCORT ZX2 FORD 400 7.030 194.07
2 1819 PRO JASON HEDGES PONTIAC GTO 398 CI 7.040 193.05
3 2909 PRO DENIS WHITING 06 HOLD VZ MONARO CHEV 399 7.055 192.41
4 401 PRO LEE BEKTASH DODGE STRATUS HEMI 399 7.062 193.63
5 12 PRO SHANE TUCKER 2010 PONTIAC GTO CHEV 400 7.063 193.27
6 1 PRO AARON TREMAYNE CHEV COBALT CHEV 398 7.067 193.52
7 3982 PRO DAVE NEWCOMBE PONTIAC GTO CHEV 398 7.075 192.69
8 2 PRO TYRONNE TREMAYNE CHEV COBALT CHEV 398 7.078 192.71
9 1212 PRO JASON GRIMA FORD MUSTANG FORD 400 7.084 191.43
10 4521 PRO MICHAEL ALI PONTIAC GTO CHEV 400 7.100 192.58
11 810 PRO RICK CHILTON PONTIAC GRAND AM CHEV 400 7.153 191.38
12 414 PRO EMILIO SPINOZZI PONTIAC GTO CHEV 400 7.163 191.92
13 1705 PRO BILL KOTSIAS PONTIAC GTO CHEV 388 7.165 190.43
14 1480 PRO BILL PERDIKARIS FORD ESCORT ZX2 FORD 399 7.221 181.98
15 126 PRO ARTHUR KOLAROFF PONTIAC GXP CHEV 400 7.241 188.25
16 3370 PRO CHRIS SOLDATOS 08 PONITAC GTO CHEV 400 7.699 137.1

The new seven second staging rule has proved to cause a few moments in qualifying and Pro Stock play more staging games than anyone, so there was great interest on what would happen in round one.

It didn’t take long for the upsets to occur, Newcombe cut a -.008 light in the first pairing against Spinozzi.

Xerakias went 7.06 on a solo when the field was reseeded after Bektash withdrew following a dropped valve.

Soldatos pulled a 7.04 from nowhere but Hedges advanced with a 7.10 courtesy of a huge holeshot.

Kolaroff and Kotsias fell too Whiting and Aaron Tremayne respectively.

Shane Tucker earned a much sorted first round win with a 7.12 to a 7.16 from Perdikaris.

Chilton was another upset winner when Tyronne picked a -.020 cherry, a 7.15 from the Canberran had the team cheering.

A red light also decided the final pairing with Grima yanking a huge -.128 light against Ali.

The cherry picking continued in round two first up with Aaron Tremayne over Tucker.

Ali dumped a .005 light on Xerakias to hold off a 7.06 second charge from the Escort hanging on with a 7.11.

Whiting and Hedges disposed of Spinozzi and Chilton despite gallant performances from the respective underdogs.

Ali with a 7.10 took a easy win over Tucker who aborted in the first semi.

Hedges didn’t need his 7.10 when Whiting bulbed.

Hedges was looking for redemption in the final after missing out on a chance to win the Winternationals due the rain, Ali was having consistent event. Another 7.10 from Ali in the final did not matter when the red light virus struck Hedges down with a near miss -.007 and a irrelevant 7.07. This was Ali’s first Pro Stock victory and also earns Ali the honourable Greg Flaherty Memorial trophy.

TOP BIKE

Top Bike suffered the most numbers and with the late withdrawal of Jay Upton only six bikes attempted qualifying. Top Bike is now sporting two separate classes with individual record setting opportunities for the V twins (T/BT) and the multi cylinder bikes (T/BM).

Mark Drew’s Harley made short work of the T/BT record with his 6.53 218 MPH top qualifying effort.

After cleaning up the timers on his first pass, Matheson clocked a shut off 6.57 for second.

Craig Bonwick was solid in third with a 6.93.

Phil Parker’s first up 8.07 was his best for the weekend.

Michal Gregg’s 8.54 was his only pass for the weekend.

Graeme Morrell could not get his bike running in both attempts to qualifying.

Qualifying Order

1 2987 TB/T MARK DREW HARLEY DAVIDSON 175CI 6.527 218.80
2 1 TB/M CHRIS MATHESON MC BRIDE SPECIAL 1500CC 6.577 182.62
3 311 TB/T CRAIG BONWICK NITRO HARLEY PRP 168 6.930 177.44
4 663 TB/M PHIL PARKER PUMA VORTEX PUMA1425 8.071 180.69
5 1382 TB/T MICHAEL GREGG HARLEY TOP BIKE 120CI 8.544 129.93

Matheson soloed in round one with another 6.57 shut off run.

Bonwick overcame a troubled run to stay ahead of Parker.

While in the final pairing Mark Drew one wheeled to a 6.71 over Morrell.

Matheson ran the quickest run of weekend in the semi with a 6.32|206 after Bonwick broke on the line and Drew backed up the national record with a 6.53|215 on a solo.

Drew blew the tyres off the Harley in the final as Matheson powered on to yet another win with a 6.39|202

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

Newly crowned National Champion Maurice Allen put the Suzuki on pole with a 7.47 in a seven bike field.

Michael Gilbertson was on his tail with a 7.46 on the Hogs Breath Suzuki.

Similarly Phil Howard was keeping them both honest with a 7.51

Glenn Wooster was in touch in fourth with a 7.76

Locky Ireland, Scott White now riding for Trevor Birell were next with Mark Hancock rounding out the field with the Players racing Suzuki.

Qualifying Order

1 1 P/M MAURICE ALLEN SUZUKI GSXR V&H 1655 7.471 180.28
2 2793 P/M MICHAEL GILBERTSON SUZUKI TL1000 1655CC 7.496 174.03
3 901 P/M PHIL HOWARD KAWASAKI KAW 1570 7.518 171.31
4 123 P/M GLENN WOOSTER SUZUKI TLR 1000 SUZ 1428 7.766 168.87
5 3 P/M LACHLAN IRELAND SUZUKI VULT 1498 8.114 171.53
6 868 P/M SCOTT WHITE SUZUKI TLR SUZ 1570 8.476 154.05
7 3292 P/M MARK HANCOCK SUZUKI GSXR 1100 1570CC 9.064 104.78

Wooster trailed Ireland who couldn’t tame the Suzuki at all this event in the first round with a 7.74 to a 8.40.

Howard went low ET of the meet so far with a 7.38 to take out Scott White.

Hancock was holeshot by Gilbo’s .016 light to the Players Suzuki’s .077, as his 7.91 could not peg back a 7.94 and Momo Allen soloed the Milwaukee Tools machine to a 7.41.

Low ET of the meet went to Allen in the first semi, his 7.32 took down Wooster’s much improved 7.52. Gilbo broke after the launch sending Howard into the the final with a 7.94 but fumes poured from the Kawasaki in the breaking area.

The damage was terminal for Howard as Allen took a solo 7.39 for the win in a perfect start to his title defense.

Click next to go to the Sportsman Event Report

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