Six times back-to-back ANDRA Top Doorslammer champion John Zappia made history at the Fuchs Springnationals by winning his seventh championship in a row with a finals finish, the most titles any racer has won consecutively.
The record was formerly held by Zappia’s good mate Victor Bray.
“Fantastic result for Zappia Racing and our naming rights sponsors Fuchs Lubricants and Striker Crushing and Screening,” Zappia said. “The team is a little disappointed with the finals loss to O’Rourke, but a great result for the team overall. A big thank you to my sponsors, crew and supporters.”
The Fuchs Spring Nationals was a huge success, thanks to the efforts of Racing Onn Promotion’s Rino D’Alfonso and his team – including Ray Treasure who ran the meeting in partnership with ANDRA. Great weather contributed and brought in the huge crowds to witness some great drag racing from all classes.
Top Doorslammer saw eleven teams represented from around Australia and qualifying for the eight-car field began on Saturday in great conditions.
“We suffered tyre shake pretty bad in all three qualifying passes, but managed to come in number two behind Stuart Bishop. We were experimenting with a combination to try and overcome this dreaded tyre shake – but it ended up worse than ever,” Zappia confessed.
The final qualifying order saw Bishop lead with a 5.091 @ 218.43mph, from Zappia 5.099 @ 222.11mph and Maurice Fabietti on 5.105 @ 211.36mph. Bump spot was a 5.243 and surprise non-qualifiers Peter Kapiris and Daniel Gregorini were out of the meeting.
“I had to go back to basics and put a known combo in the car for this track – I had the data, so we made the changes to run round one up against Marty Dack on Sunday,” Zappia said. “The track was actually very good, but lane choice was tricky for us in the Fuchs/Striker Crushing Monaro due to my driving position and the poor vision I have when using the mirror to launch from the right lane and also due to the sun on the stage lights.
“I picked the left lane, and did a crowd pleasing fish tail win that actually took some driving to accomplish. I had to pedal twice after shaking and was all over the track trying to stay in it, but managed to take the win with a 5.19 to Dack’s 5.23.”
Other winners were Bishop over Priolo, Fabietti over Goonan and O’Rourke over Phillips.
“I changed to the right lane for the semi-final against Fabietti – executed a bad light and had to chase him. First gear pulled hard – I punched second and the car rattled a little so I did a tap on the throttle – drove the Crusher hard to overtake Fab and win the round with a 5.06 – low ET of the meeting,” Zappia said.
“The team was elated after the win, as news came through that we had won the championship. After last year’s nail biting finish to the season going right down to the last race, it was a relief to secure the championship with one meeting remaining.”
O’Rourke managed to take out Stuart Bishop who red lit in the other semi-final, setting up another battle of the giants in the finals. Zappia and O’Rourke are both long time Western Australian racers who have faced each other numerous times over the years and with O’Rourke’s return to Top Doorslammer the two have met up together this year more than ever.
“The final was a hard tactical decision for the team. With the sun causing me difficulties on the start line, I chose the left lane – not the best performing lane over the day – but I was confident we could tune the car to get the right wheel speed and maintain traction,” he said.
“Unfortunately the crew positioned me to avoid some blistering on the track surface and the Crusher was pointed to the left. The car launched hard but went left – I pedaled and just grazed the wall, and came up short of O’Rourke’s winning 5.26 @ 216mph.
“The result is a great response to our sponsor’s support – winning the championship for Fuchs at their naming rights event. I managed to call Striker Crushing and Screening’s director and owner of the Crusher in Malaysia and he was elated with the win.”
“The Zappia Racing crew is amazing in their dedication and expertise they bring to the team. A big thank-you to them and their efforts. Also a big thanks to our long list of sponsors and supporters who each are significant and have contributed to the overall team performance”.
“This year has not been plain sailing, with the beginning of the season being challenging. We got a little lost chasing some performance – and believe me it is easy to get lost trying to get these brutal Doorslammers down the track competitively – but brought the car back to where we knew it would perform from our data which ensured the wins came.”
The Zappia Racing Team will return to Perth for the Perth Motorplex opening test-n-tune, before heading back to Sydney for the final meeting of the championship season at Sydney Dragway for the Australian Nationals on 31st October.
With the Championship all wrapped up the team can concentrate on performing well at the Nationals without thinking about the outcome of the championship, something that has come down to the last race for the past three seasons.