The Pro Slammer king, John Zappia may have set a new national record at the Perth Motorplex last night, but Grant O’Rourke was ultimately crowned the Home Group WA Westernationals champion.
Zappia had earlier made 400 Thunder history by posting the quickest ever pass in class history, a stunning – a 5.683-second run at 408.39km/h from his Fuchs Holden Monaro.
But the hometown hero’s run at the Westernationals title came to a sudden halt on the startline of the final round with a broken valve, leaving O’Rourke unchallenged in taking a popular win with a 5.942-sec/394.94km/h pass.
“Zappia’s the king of the kids, so any time you face him in the final you have to be prepared,” O’Rourke said.
“It’s just awesome to take out the Westernationals. We came here looking to claw back some points in the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer standings and we have achieved what we set out to do – I’m rapt!”
Zappia was left disappointed, the opportunity to clean sweep the event falling short at the final hurdle.
“Our record-setting run was a picture perfect run – dead straight. The car left the line and didn’t wheel-stand too high and just felt beautiful,” Zappia said.
“It felt fast. I wasn’t surprised to set a record after running such quick times earlier in the weekend.”
“We weren’t trying to go any faster tonight, we just left it after the semi-finals knowing I just had to get from A to B, but we had a mechanical issue.”
Zappia backed up his new Pro Slammer elapsed time record 5.683-sec pass with a 5.707-sec run in the opening round of eliminations.
Pro Alcohol legend Gary Phillips got his 400 Thunder national title campaign back on track by clean-sweeping the Westernationals – taking the top qualifying spot, the bonus points for lowest elapsed time and top speed of the meet, and winning the final round in a stunning weekend of racing for the methanol-fuelled category.
In the final round, Phillips ran a blistering 5.441-sec/426.75km/h pass to down points leader John Cannuli’s 5.638-sec/413.97km/h.
“It’s tough when everyone’s throwing 5.45s at you, but we put together a perfect weekend. There is nothing better,” Phillips said.
The Brisbane-based racer feels his Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet Monte Carlo has the potential to even more break records when he returns to the world-class Perth Motorplex in two weeks for the West Coast Nitro event.
“I’m coming back with all guns blazing. I’d been struggling with my new car, but we’ve found the sweet spot and it’s just about flawless now.
“We definitely have the potential to run in the 5.3s, but there’s a lot of other guys chasing that same goal too.”
In the 400 Thunder Sportsman ranks, Stuart Moresby took out Competition Eliminator in the Hotshots Racing Ford ute, running some of his quickest ever times.
Ralph Lewis drove his Ford Mustang to a popular win in Super Stock.
Competition Bike honours went to Brett Ghedina in a tough fought final against national champion Ross Smith.
Lorenzo Gullotto won his second Top Sportsman Westernationals title in two years, showing a year off had done little to affect his skills.
Supercharged Outlaws featured Jodie Mellitt in the winner’s circle, Modified was won by South Australian traveller Simon Barlow, Laurence Adamos took out Super Sedan, Murray High went to victory aboard his Ducati in Modified Bike, Paul Garbellini won in Super Street after an epic week road tripping around the country to race and Jack Wasley claimed gold in Junior Dragster.
Freestyle motocross returned to liven up the night, while the cheerleading troupe also put on a show full of stunts as part of the lead up entertainment to the main show!
Perth Motorplex hosts another two major 400 Thunder events in the coming weeks, with Top Fuel, Pro Alcohol and Pro Bike headlining West Coast Nitro from 19-20 February.