How do you describe night one of Home Group WA Nitro Slam? Record setting? Drama filled? Sheer motortainment is what it was!
Let’s start with the numbers because there were some big ones. Arguably one of the greatest runs in the history of Perth Motorplex was made by John Zappia when he reeled off a 5.683, the quickest ever Top Doorslammer pass in Australia and the first time a Top Doorslammer has run into the 5.6 second zone.
The previous best in official ANDRA Top Doorslammer competition was Zappia’s own 5.745 set at the Fuchs Winternationals in Queensland.
But things got wild in the final session when Zappia punted the wall – on a pass he said was trying to be more conservative than the earlier stunner.
“We tried to back the car off a bit because we want to go rounds tomorrow,” Zappia said. “I punched second gear like I normally do and I went way right, it got real close to the wall then came away and was going straight and then the next minute it hooked right. I must have had the left tyre in traction and the right tyre in no traction.
“It’s pretty cosmetic, it’s the most minor damage we’ve done on the body. We’ve got a spare door, we’ve got a spare front and we will fix the headers.”
Zappia said while they have a performance margin on the field, the team are concerned about their consistency.
“When it was running 80s we knew it would run 80s every run, but now you are pushing the limits – it is closer to the edge and it can be more unpredictable,” he said.
“It’s got enough for most of the field, but there are a couple of teams in the low 80s so it is a lottery on what the track surface will bring.
“We want to start the season strong so if anything goes wrong we are in front to start with, but hey everyone would love to do that.”
The rest of Top Doorslammer was just as impressive with an all five second field the result after a competitive night of qualifying.
Pino Priolo held the bump spot with a 5.979, his first ever five second run and enough to keep Gary Phillips out by just one thousandth of a second!
And what can we say about Wayne Keys. The privateer scorched Perth Motorplex with a 5.837, a personal best by a massive margin. He settled into third position with Sydneysider Maurice Fabietti sliding into second with a 5.818.
Mark Drew commanded the Top Fuel Motorcycle field with a 6.586, a pass he said should have been quicker.
“The clutch cannon didn’t release anywhere near early enough,” he confessed. “The consistency wasn’t there that I would have liked so we will go back to where we started with the tune up from the 6.58, but with the clutch coming in at the right time.”
Drew tried to improve in the final session but like Zappia had a wild end to the night as he fought to keep the bike straight.
“It felt like the handlebars were scraping along the ground, it took off again and I was battling to keep it off the wall – it was just a messy run,” he said.
Chris Matheson’s move to a nitro Harley seems positive so far with a second place 6.925.
The ‘nitro newbie’ we profiled earlier in the week, Les Holden, was all smiles after qualifying for the field on the bump spot with a 7.873.
It must be an indication of the amount of action that we are this many words down and still haven’t mentioned the Nitro Funny Cars!
Mark Sheehan was the centre of attention for most of the night in his match races against Anthony Begley, with a 5.32 pass first up that bashed around some timing cones before a 5.02 effort in the second ‘nitro slam’.
But the drama was in the braking area where Sheehan had no parachutes and went big into the sand trap.
The Top Alcohol exhibition saw Craig Glassby set tongues wagging following a personal best pass of 5.50 – putting him into form just in time for the ANDRA Top Alcohol championship round coming up at the Westernationals at the end of January.
Everywhere you looked there seemed to be amazing figures. Errol Quartermaine was 0.13 of a second under the DD/GA record to top qualify in Super Comp with a personal best 7.676, Ross Smith was also under his national record for C/AB to top qualify in Competition Bike with an 8.163.
Make sure you’re at day two of Home Group WA Nitro Slam – we don’t see the action easing any time yet!
Images by Phil Luyer/High Octane Photos.