John Zappia has claimed back-to-back Top Doorslammer victories at Perth Motorplex, winning the 44th annual Westernationals on the weekend, while Gary Phillips clinched opening Top Alcohol round.
Zappia defeated Peter Kapiris in one of the tightest Top Doorslammer finishes. Kapiris had the start line advantage, but Zappia ran him down to run a 5.78 second pass to Kapiris’ 5.81 and claiming the win by a mere seven thousandths of a second.
“I knew they [Kapiris' team] were going to step up,” Zappia said.
“Craig from Striker Crushing called me up and said you're on fire, just leave it alone, don't touch it - and that's exactly what we did.”
Zappia has had one of the best starts to the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Series of his career, missing out on just one point do date.
“Now we go to Adelaide, it might be a tricky track but we have always had the advantage there,” Zappia said.
“And we are real excited to go Sydney and Willowbank. I thought 5.80s was the limit, but now we have made a big leap and I don't know if there is much more to leap after this. There is probably a 5.65 in the car on a perfect run.
“We are that close to being able to run flat 5.70s or 5.69s consistently, but I don't know how long it will take to happen. It could take 18 months to make it happen.”
Zappia faces Wayne Keys and Daniel Gregorini on his way to meeting Kapiris in the final.
Meanwhile, Gary Phillips has returned to the winners circle in Top Alcohol after defeating Craig Glassby for the first Gold Christmas Tree of the year.
Glassby transferred into the final after running the fastest methanol fuelled Funny Car pass in the world, 5.410 seconds.
Phillips was consistent all weekend, his Lucas Oil Funny Car continually doing 5.4 second runs as he met with Robert Ambruosi and Rob Pilkington.
The 16-time champion said the Top Alcohol field is getting tougher.
“It's like 5.40s are easy now. We were trying to run a 5.30 in the final, it never quite got there, we were trying to get the record back,” Phillips said.
“Number one qualifier, win the race; that is a good start to the season and we have something we can work on now.”
Phillips said he is determined to claim the record back, and has vowed to do so.
“We're about performances, the winning is a bonus. Lucas Oil is about keeping that engine alive and we didn't put a bearing in it at all,” he said.
Top Doorslammer and Top Alcohol now heads to Adelaide International Raceway for the Pro Series 1000, held from 14-15 March.
Image supplied © Luke Nieuwhof