The race fans of the West have been treated to an epic show at the 52nd MacTrack Westernationals at the Perth Motorplex this weekend, with an brilliant line-up of nitro action on display.
Two huge days and nights of racing culminated with the finals for the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship and Australian Drag Racing Championship (ADRC) Top Doorslammer and Top Fuel Motorcycle brackets this evening, with the massive crowd clearly pleased with what they saw.
It wasn’t all smiles however, with Matt Abel unfortunately rolling in the sand trap after taking the Top Doorslammer C Final win from a stationary John Zappia following an issue with his chutes. Abel quickly exited the car under his own power and signalled to the crowd he was okay, but the damage to his 1957 Chev Belair will see him left with a lot of work ahead to make the next round of the championship.
After a hard-fought fight, taking out the Top Fuel honours was Phil Read in the Hydraulink Jim Read Racing Top Fuel Dragster, following an ugly yet entertaining final against last-round winner, Peter Xiberras in the PremiAir Racing Top Fuel Dragster. Both racers were in for a pedal fest, with Read even seeing the air disturbance from his skating dragster dislodging multiple timing blocks, requiring a review of the racing replays to determine if he had crossed the centre line.
In the B Final, Damien Harris took out the final over his Rapisarda Autosport International team-mate Wayne Newby in a race that was so close it required extended deliberations of the slow-motion camera to declare a winner.
The reliance on the cameras was necessitated as timing issues were encountered throughout the event, culminating in there being no timing for the 1000ft markers on Sunday, which meant the series has to resort to alternative methods to declare the winners.
Following a meeting between the series, the track and the Top Fuel teams, a slow-motion camera was set up and a three-strong adjudicating panel appointed to declare winners, with an official positioned on either side of the track with a flag to signal the result. Half-track times were used for seeding and bonus points (for low ET and high speed).
Kyle Putland continued a strong weekend of PBs to win over an off-early Phil Lamattina in the C Final, while Shane OIive won a solo D Final.
“What a final, and what a day. Once again Top Fuel proves it is the greatest show on Earth,” Read enthused after taking the win.
“I am so glad to be in Perth, so glad to get the win, and it is great to be back in the points chase as we try and get that Stan Sainty Cup and bring it home for the family. There is still a ways to go, but I am quietly confident.
“Everyone knows also that we lost our truck driver Grant ‘Fozzie’ Foster on the way over here to the Goldenstates in November. I drove the truck over this time especially to place a special memorial plaque created by Wayne Newby where we lost him and this win is for him.
“Thank you to everyone for their support, including our sponsors Hydraulink, McDonalds, Valvoline, FXD Workwear, PremiAir Hire, and Odyssey Batteries, as well as Snap-on who have just renewed with us bigger and better. I really appreciate your support.”
In ADRC Top Doorslammer, Daniel Gregorini backed up last year’s Westernationals and Goldenstates wins here in Perth with another A-Final win, this time over Kelvin Lyle.
Unlike the Goldenstates final where Gregorini was on a solo, it was a side by side race down the quarter-mile with Gregorini taking the win on a holeshot with a 5.752 second pass at 410.22kph over Lyle’s 5.747 at 413.14kph effort.
In the B Final, Peter Kapiris took the win over the newly licensed Lisa Gregorini, while Matt Abel claimed the victory but also a hefty damage bill in the C Final on a solo after Zappia was unable to select gears to take to the track. Ryan Moresby won the D Final over Maurice Brennan.
“Our weekend started last Sunday really with testing with Lisa trying to get her licensed, and that continued into Thursday and then we had to do more laps on Saturday, so it was a hectic week leading up to it,” Gregorini explained.
“Qualifying wasn’t too bad, we ran some eighties, but we also did some gearbox damage in Q2, so we elected to sit out the final qualifier so we could make sure we had it fixed ready for today, and we finished up at 5.00am this morning.
“Today went well, we ran some seventies and got a holeshot win in the final – getting a holeshot win is always pretty cool. So we are the back to back Westernationals winners, and we won at the Goldenstates as well – we just seem to keep winning in Perth!
“It is great to have both cars, mine and Lisa’s, running consistently, it makes things a lot easier to manage as a two-car team when they are both running consistently.
“We copped a bit of flak early on for the all-girl team, but Lisa and the team have definitely proven themselves for sure and now Lisa will be on tour with us when we go around the championship rounds.
“Thank you to all of my crew, the Perth Motorplex, ANDRA, Top Fuel Australia and the ADRC for putting this event together, and also to our sponsors: Scratch and Match Autocolour, Kerb Doctor, Westcoast Siteworks, Kendall Oils, S&S Industries, Dalisa Estate Winery, Signbiz WA, Go Print, Dirty Detailing, Final Drive Engineering, Gforce Race Cars, Resolution Racing Services, DMPE, Applied Automotive and Kinetic Engineering.
“Also I want to make a special mention of Matt Abel – the parts that we borrowed last night to be able to go racing today were borrowed from Matt, so we need to say a special thanks to him. It is so unfortunate to see what happened and hopefully he is back racing with us very soon.”
On two wheels, Benny Stevens continued his impressive performances in ADRC Top Fuel Motorcycle to take out the A-Final win over Kevin Gummow, with a 7.074 second pass at 248.48kph over Gummow’s 8.564/185.85kph run. Greg Durack won the B Final on a solo after Chris Matheson was unable to back up after his burnout, while the C Final saw Rob Cassar win over Aaron Deery. In the D Final, Jay Upton took the win over Mark Drew, who did not front.
“We have had an awesome day today! We wanted to be conservative this morning so we tamed it down a bit and the first lap was a 6.55. We got the data we needed and pretty much left the bike the same and repeated for the second run, and the track had turned around really well so we probably should have thrown some more power at it, but we still got through the win on what ended up being a solo,” Stevens said.
“In the final, we were out against Kevin Gummow and we went towards the centre line at about 800 foot – now normally I would have ridden out of something like that, but I didn’t want to risk losing the final, so I got off the throttle, got a bit close to the line, flicked the bike across and came through for the win.
“I have won two Goldenstates before with two Silver Christmas Trees, so to be able to get a Gold ANDRA Christmas Tree is fantastic, it is something I have wanted to achieve for many years so to finally have that dream come true is absolutely awesome. My whole team is absolutely stoked to win the event.
“It was awesome to have four feature brackets here this weekend and to be a part of that – the Perth Motorplex did an awesome job to host the event and I am very thankful for the track staff and the volunteers and their efforts.
“Thank you also to our sponsors, Worx Equipment, AAA Demolition and Tree Services, Racecraft, Darling Downs Drilling, Bakers Creek Harvesting, West Coast Air, TRP, CJD Trucks, Redline Synthetic Oil, Gardiner Engineering, MDR Trans, Nelg’s Ali Mods, Applied Automotive Performance Engines and The Gate Bar and Bistro.”
For results from today’s action at the Perth Motorplex, please click here
Two rounds remain in the championship chases for the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship and the Australian Drag Racing Championship for Top Doorslammer and Top Fuel Motorcycle – the Nitro Champs at Sydney Dragway across May 5 and 6, and the season-ending Nitro Up North in Darwin on June 16 and 17. To learn more about the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship and the Australian Drag Racing Championships, visit www.topfuelchampionship.com.au