race reports

Nitro Thunder Doorslammers at Sydney, Australia

Zappia Wins IHRA Nitro Thunder Event


Words and photos by Jon Van Daal

After the first three events of the 2017-18 Australian IHRA season, ten-time Doorslammer champion John Zappia found himself in a position he hadn’t been in a long time: not winning a round of the Championship. The Moits Racing Mack Trucks/Komatsu Mustang Top Doorslammer with Paul Mouhayet at the wheel had instead taken the first three Christmas Tree trophies. Never one to be counted out, Zappia regrouped and won the next race at Adelaide and going into the Nitro Thunder round he had to win this too in order to regain the championship.


Friday saw two qualifying rounds with Mouhayet being the only racer, period being able to get down the track with a 5.706/254.04 mph pass. Emilio Spinozzi was next with a 6.73 and it went downhill from there as the cold conditions made sure that no other car could gain traction on the frigid track.

As can be seen here John Zappia and Paul Mouhayet were to lay down 5.6-second passes within three runs of each other. Zappia went to the top of the tree with a 5.633 to just lead his rival with a 5.649. The top seven cars were in the fives with Spinozzi rounding out the top eight with a 6.02.’

Just past the tree in the final of Pro Slammer it was neck and neck between John Zappia’s Holden HQ (near lane) and Sam Fenech’s Camaro. As they proceeded down track the white HQ began to pull away and Zappia’s familiar Holden clicked the win light - a 5.751 won over Sam Fenech's oh-so-close 5.823.


After losing the first three races of the season to Paul Mouhayet’s Moits Racing Mustang it was back to back wins for Perth’s John Zappia. “After Paul won the first three events of the championship we had to win the next three to have any chance of taking away this year’s championship”, Zappia announced at the trophy presentation after the race. “This is the second; we have to win the third at Willowbank next month,” he went on to say.

It was strange not to see the Moits Racing Mustang in the final OF Top Doorslammer as they had been in the first four of this season. In the second round Mouyahet left with the wheels in the air and crossed the centerline, however, his opponent, Andrew Searle, did not accept the tree which led to his disqualification before Mouyahet. While that gave him the win light, crossing the centerline meant they were not awarded any E.T. points and thus didn’t make it to the final. This one run may have further implications for the championship if things go down to the wire at the IHRA Winternationals.

Third qualifier was Texas driver Frankie “The Madman” Taylor in his orange and black Corvette with a 5.774 time, a much better time than his teammate, as Ben Bray would struggled to get down the Sydney Dragway black top. Taylor came away with two wins from the three-round Chicago Shootout format while Bray only won one when his opponent, Mark Bellerie broke.

Sam Fenech crashed into the sand pit during round 1 of Eliminations. 




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