Weather brutal for qualifying Friday at East Coast Thunder

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Mother Nature rarely let up during an exhausting day of qualifying at Sydney Dragway for East Coast Thunder, with extreme heat and then a storm combining to bring an early end to the day.

Most pro categories had two sessions of qualifying, with Top Fuel the only one to miss out on completing dual sets. The track held up surprisingly well under the conditions, though spectators largely stayed away – perhaps preferring to watch the live feed at home than sit in the scorching temperatures.

In Top Fuel’s lone qualifying session, Damien Harris was the standout with a 3.95./305mph. Wayne Newby hit a 3.99 in the second session, but as the session was not completed we believe the time will be thrown out.

Kelly Bettes had a warm welcome back to Top Fuel, literally, with a big fireball in her Q1, while Phil Read showed potential on his first pass but struck the tyres at the hit in Q2.

Pro Slammer was again a fantastic show with teams finding a way down the track despite the heat. John Zappia’s second session 5.66 stole away top spot from Steve Ham’s Q2 5.692, which itself had only just got ahead of Kelvin Lyle’s 5.695/257mph from the first session – perhaps the run of the day given the conditions.

Following on were Scott MacLean who ran 5.70 and then went into the sand trap after his chutes were late to blossom, Sam Fenech on a 5.728, Paul Mouhayet with a 5.775, Ben Bray on a 5.828, Mark Hinchelwood’s 5.843 and a 5.893 from Geoff Gradden. The 16 car field means we will see plenty of eliminations racing on Saturday.

Gary Phillips’s 5.480 would hold for top spot in Pro Alcohol, well ahead of a 5.59 from Chris Hargrave which the team were plenty happy with, though there was some smoke in the braking area.

That seemed to be a common theme in the bracket, with plenty of mechanical carnage. Steve Reed burnt up a piston in a big way and had an engine change overnight, while Nigel Johnson put the burst panel out of his dragster. 

Pro Stock saw Aaron Tremayne’s 7.017 at the top, another impressive run given poor air conditions. A 7.059 by Chris Soldatos was the nearest rival to Tremayne’s time.

Top Bike promised much but qualifying was an average affair. Gavin Spann’s 7.388 ended as the leader as the big guns struggled. Chris Matheson only made one run, where he headed out to the wall and had to shut down. Chris Porter also only made one run, with oil coming from the motor shortly after he launched. Jay Upton was controversially shut off in the first session when his parachute came out on the line. The team removed the chute to run (bikes aren’t required to run a chute) but an official ruled the bike had to be shut down because ‘all safety equipment must be operational’. 

Pro Bike was disappointing with only two bikes appearing in the first session and three bikes in the second. Daniel Rabnott’s 7.36 was the only representative run of the day and the leader.

Also on two wheels, Leonard Azzopardi stunned with a 6.88/212mph on his Extreme Bike Suzuki Hayabusa, which we believe is now the quickest time for a no bar bike in the country.

At the moment 1320go doesn’t seem to be up, but we will endeavour to get the sportsman results for you later today.


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