Weston, O’Connor unlikely heroes at Pro Showdown

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Young gun Shane Weston and privateer driver Murray O’Connor lead the Top Alcohol and Top Doorslammer fields respectively following an exciting night one of the Pro Showdown, the opening round of the ANDRA Drag Racing Series for the supercharged methanol classes.

Weston waited until the last run of the final session of qualifying for Top Alcohol to unleash a 5.562 and narrowly steal top spot from Gary Phillips. The run was a personal best for the Pirtek team.

“It’s overwhelming; I still don’t believe it at the moment,” said Weston. “All my crew have worked so hard to get where we are.

“For my team, what parts and knowledge we have its awesome, we haven’t got a big bank balance. We’re running the car on all our spares right now. We haven’t got any big sponsors but we hope to get some so we can do the full series, but at the moment it’s just the local rounds.

“On the actual run I just have to take it as it comes. I’m racing against all the big guys and if I take it as it comes I’ve got a chance and that chance just happened to pay off.

“I’m not trying to reinvent the world but it’s coming quicker than I expected.”

Phillips 5.565 was a narrow second, followed by John Cannuli, Craig Glassby and Adam Marchant (all on 5.61s), Steve Ham (5.65) and Debbie O’Rourke (5.71). The field was bumped by Rob Pilkington’s 5.75. Aaron Deery, Steve Reed, Brian Robinson and Craig Anderson will miss race day. Full qualifying results.

After spending some time as a dark horse, Murray O’Connor came to the fore and took top qualifying position in Top Doorslammer with a 5.908.

The Ford Falcon proved too good on a night where many teams struggled for consistency.

“The weather was a bit odd tonight,” said O’Connor. “The humidity came in late and even we went a little slower in that last one than we expected.

“I think a lot of the guys outside of the field had to really push to try and get in and that’s when you over step the mark.”

O’Connor isn’t getting ahead of himself, preferring to take it as it comes with the field missing some very strong competitors on race day.

“(We’ll take it) one lap at a time,” he said. “We’ll go through the car tonight, service it, rock up tomorrow afternoon, put whatever tune up we think is right and it’s in the lap of the gods from there.

“To sit here and say you are confident in a field as fast as what some of these guys do would be foolish. Any one of those guys can come up and bite you and it’s very easy to make a mistake yourself.”

National champion John Zappia used a last session 5.92 to sit second, followed by Stuart Bishop (5.93), Marty Dack (5.94), Maurice Fabietti (5.95), Mark Belleri (5.96), Grant O’Rourke (5.99) and Pino Priolo (6.01). Outside the field are a number of surprises including Victor Bray and Peter Kapiris, plus Simon Travaglini, Wayne Keys, Russ Pavey, Ben Bray, Andrew Sutton, Pat Carbone, John Cannuli, Daniel Gregorini and Mark Chapman. Full qualifying results.

Sportsman qualifying for the local championship also got underway, we’ll bring you details in Sunday’s report. If you’d like to see the results so far, click here.

Follow along with our updates tomorrow on our event coverage page here.

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