A last ditch qualifying pass saw reigning Top Doorslammer champion John Zappia qualify at the Pro Showdown but a part failure eliminated the champ early.
The conditions were tricky, with high humidity and a difficult track that seemed to stump crew chiefs and their tuning selections.
“We had an interesting meeting to say the least,” said Zappia after the event. “A few small component failures stopped our progress through eliminations. But we are upbeat – last year we failed to qualify for the first meeting, so we are better positioned if you look at it positively.”
Stuart Bishop won the event, his first Top Doorslammer win, with Pino Priolo runner up.
“I always thought Bishop had great potential – he is the leader in the auto cars and has put out five eights in the past. Reliability was his hurdle and they have overcome that this meeting. It was good to see Pino do well – he has plugged away consistently with his car over the years and is a worthy runner-up,” Zappia said.
Qualifying on the Friday saw Zap sneak into second spot with a 5.928 with an event top high speed of 249.30mph, after a pedalling 6.025 at 247.25 and a second gear launch 6.304 at 244.56mph. Top spot was claimed by Murray O’Connor in his XM Falcon with a 5.908 and the bump ended up being 6.013, with all but one team in the fives.
“I had trouble with the air system to the gearbox and my shifting mechanism. It is an in-house, CNC designed component and for some reason the super reliable part played up – both in qualifying and again in the first elimination,” Zappia said.
Round one on Saturday saw Zappia’s Fuchs Lubricants/Striker Crushing and Screening Monaro matched up against Grant O’Rourke’s Pontiac Firebird. These two are long time sparring partners, with battles in Zap’s original Zap’s Rat HQ and Grant’s AA/G Torana entertaining crowds at Ravenswood and Kwinana.
“I was out first but went to hit second gear on my steering wheel and nothing happened. The poor old Hemi hit the limiter and after bashing the shifter with my left had it finally changed into third gear and got going. But it was all over with Grant running a credible 5.992 at 242.58mph to my 6.141 ay 241.93mph,” he said.
“You can tell by the results that most teams had trouble putting the power to the ground. O’Connor’s quickest ET was 5.908 and my fastest speed of 249.30mph were both in qualifying. Race day was hard to master.
“Seeing Bishop win the final with a 5.972 over Pino’s 6.028 certainly gets one thinking about the future of autos in the class. Ben Bray has fitted an auto to his Monaro, but is working through the process of development. The US cars are having remarkable success with them. We will be staying with the clutch and B & J three speed for now – we don’t really have any issues with ours, and Jerry has the tune mastered.
“We are very confident going into Rounds 2 and 3 at the Westernationals in a month’s time. We will rectify the small issues we had and hopefully get back to running our “five eights” and depending on the weather and track – dip back into the “five sevens”. Our local supporters have been deprived of seeing us run a “five seven” so it would be good to run one on our home track.”
The Westernationals format will be a three round series on both Saturday and Sunday nights with all racers running one qualifier, then an elimination round with the four fastest winners racing off for the “A” and “B” final. This is high pressure racing and anyone could end up in the finals on either night. Spectators will get to see at least 20 paired passes and two finals on both nights.