Kelvin Lyle is Western Australia’s latest Pro Slammer hero, winning East Coast Thunder in Sydney on Saturday – his first ever national victory.
Lyle, who was last season’s Summer Slam Series Champion, is wasting no time getting back to Perth Motorplex to race at the WA Drag Racing Championships and take part in a massive ten car Summer Slam field.
Lyle said he expects the Summer Slam to be just as competitive as Sydney a few days ago.
“You’re going to have John Zappia back again, Daniel Gregorini who ran well in Sydney, the Chapmans, the Moresbys – I love the Summer Slam,” he said. “We are doing all the 400 Thunder Series rounds this year so Summer Slam works well to keep us fresh in the seat.”
Lyle ran a new personal best time of 5.69 seconds in Sydney, before reaching the final round and defeating Sam Fenech.
“It was really great to get the win for the crew, they have worked so hard over the past year,” he said. “They were all pretty excited. We’ve struggled the last six months, we didn’t qualify at the Westernationals and didn’t do really well at the opening round of the series in Darwin, so it was great to turn it around and get the win.”
There’s no doubt that part of the reason for Lyle’s pace was new crew chief Jon Salemi, a veteran tuner from the USA. Lyle said Salemi’s strategy was to work solely on first gear and let the rest look after itself.
“We adjusted suspension and gear ratios until he got what he wanted for our test day,” Lyle explained. “From there we didn’t even touch the tune of the motor, not really all week. He left it how it has been forever, we went out in the middle of the day and ran the 5.69. The track was really good even though it was 38C. I think it surprised a lot of people.
“Then race day we went out and had Michelle Davies in the first round, she red lit, we automatically went through. Against Paul Mouhayet in the second round I went to hit second gear and had nothing, so I just hit top gear and finished off the run for the win. We pulled the gearbox out and replaced the clutches and then changed to another gearbox. Against Emilio Spinozzi in the semi finals the exact same thing happened, except this time I did the whole run in first gear on the rev limiter, which didnt leave things too good motor wise – I just didn’t want to lose. He had a problem, which saved me.
“We did find the problem in the air lines for the shifters and fixed that and went out against Sam Fenech. We ran a 5.8 and we were side by side until he dropped a valve and his burst panel went as well. We got lucky breaks over the weekend but we are happy with how we are heading.
“Jon Salemi has shown this car can get down the track, he is excited about the whole thing.”
Lyle will use the same combination at Perth Motorplex before making a switch to an auto transmission ahead of a new car arriving from the USA.
“We are going to put an auto in it, that is what Jon is used to in the States, so I would be mad not to get him what he is used to. We will test at the Perth events and then be ready with the auto in it for the next 400 Thunder round in Brisbane.”
Lyle will be joined by a star studded Summer Slam field on Saturday which includes John Zappia, Daniel Gregorini, Steve Aldridge, Shane Catalano, Mark Chapman, Wayne Keys, Ryan Moresby, Stuart Moresby and Pino Priolo.