Australian Nationals Takes Shape In Sydney
Text By Luke Nieuwhof/ANDRA
Phil Lamattina, John Zappia, Steve Reed, Lee Bektash, Chris Matheson and Luke Crowley lead their respective fields following day two of the Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway.
Lamattina used a final session 4.715 to narrowly oust brother John’s 4.719 near identical Fuchs dragster from the top qualifying position in Top Fuel.
“We qualify well all the time so what we need to do is translate that into round wins,” he said. “The championship might be out of our reach but a good consolation would be to win the Nationals with a gold Christmas tree.
“This car is able really to make speed in the top end, it makes a lot of power. It was good to get that number one qualifier and if I had to pip John at the post so be it.”
Phil Read was a surprise late entry, taking over the seat of Martin Stamatis’ Billview dragster with an ill Stamatis deciding to call it a day after one launch. Read will face Lamattina in round one on Sunday.
Meanwhile by making a qualifying pass, Darren Morgan wrapped up his fourth ANDRA Top Fuel championship following his win at Fuchs Nitro Thunder presented by Crow Cams two weeks ago in Melbourne.
John Zappia fired the opening salvo in Top Doorslammer with a 5.831, ahead of his championship rival Peter Kapiris.
Zappia will race Sean Mifsud in round one, who has the assistance of US Pro Modified star Mike Janis at this event.
“Sean is improving every run and (Mike) Janis will probably work out what to do with it overnight to make it go so I don’t think it’s an easy run. It’s a big unknown,” he said.
“I just need to worry about my own race and get my first event win for the season. Everyone says they are sick of me winning, but I haven’t won a race all year so I’m sick of not winning.”
In Top Alcohol a personal best pass of 5.563 from Queensland’s Steven Reed put him into the number one spot, though hot conditions ahead has him thinking conservative for race day.
“We had a totally different combination in the car for this event. I hopped it up for the run and hoped it worked and it did,” he said.
“We will probably have to be conservative tomorrow, but it should be similar to this afternoon so we will make the call a few minutes before we run. As long as we don’t discover any damage overnight we are pretty happy.”
Pro Stock again saw a battle royale in qualifying with Mopar driver Lee Bektash going 7.007 on his way to the top of the qualifying sheets.
Bektash said he was actually disappointed not to break into the sixes.
“We haven’t made perfect runs, we’re missing those runs by two or three hundredths. I was hoping we would get a 6.97 or a 6.98 on that last run,” he said.
Bektash is keen for forecasted hot conditions to come into play.
“We’ve done a lot of testing and we would rather the track hot,” he said.
“We believe this car is the best in the country at the moment. It really shined there through the day when no one thought we could run 7.00 in those conditions.”
Chris Matheson made his first competition runs since his massive fall at the Nitro Champs in May, taking top qualifying position in Top Bike with a relatively easy 6.962 pass.
But it was Chris Porter who by qualifying ahead of Graeme Morell ensured he took his first ANDRA Top Bike title.
Another rider to earn a title simply by qualifying was Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Luke Crowley, whose top qualifying pass of 7.228 put a stamp on what has been a very successful season for the first time championship winner.
Early Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship eliminations also took place on day two of the Australian Nationals with a number of series champions decided.
Darren Parker in Super Stock, Rod Harvey in Super Compact, Craig Baker in Modified, Gavin Dohnt in Modified Bike and Brayden Naylor in Junior Dragster were among those to seal titles.
Eliminations continue on the third and final day of the Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway with racing commenc