Darren Morgan’s defence of the ANDRA Pro Series Top Fuel Championship is back on track after a runner up performance in the third round at the Perth Motorplex.
Aside from the 50% bonus points that all competitors received for traveling to the Western capital, Morgan received additional points for the quickest time established during the course of the meeting and the quickest speed - both set in Friday night’s qualifier with his 4.749 second run at a speed of 504.659 kilometres per hour (313.58mph).
The top qualification gave the Mildura Missile a bye run for the first round before coming up against last round winner, Damien Harris. Despite the team being forced to fix a broken fuel pump lever as Morgan approached the staging lanes, he was able to get around Harris in a phenomenal drag race - recording a 4.84 second pass to Harris’ 4.85.
This set the Mildura TAFE teacher on a collision course with relative newcomer to Top Fuel, Mark Sheehan.
The team discovered an issue with the ignition when warming up the AEG Powertools ‘Agent Orange’ machine, which forced them into a situation whereby they didn’t run a retardation box for the Final.
This small issue proved to be decisive in the overall scheme of the Final - Sheehan had no such trouble and took the win with a 4.95 second pass to Morgan’s 5.05.
Track conditions over the weekend were difficult for the team to get a handle on - given the temperature hovered around 40 degrees Celsius. This forced track staff to take the unprecedented step of actually ‘watering’ the track before qualifying on Friday in an effort to produce conditions conducive to quick times for the 8000 horsepower Top Fuel dragsters.
Overall though, Morgan reports the progress made with the car across the weekend has been outstanding.
“We’re incredibly happy to be back in top form, but at the same time disappointed that we didn’t get the final round win,” said Morgan.
“We certainly had the car to get the job done in Perth, but a small problem with the ignition proved to be enough for Mark (Sheehan) to drive around us and win."
It sets the team up well for it’s next outing - the Fuchs APSA Shootout at Calder Park Raceway in Melbourne on February 18. The historic return to Calder takes on additional significance with the announcement of the ANDRA Pro Series round to be conducted in Adelaide in March, as both events will be run over the 300 metre (1000 foot) distance.
“It will be great to get back to Calder Park. It takes on extra meaning for us with the ANDRA Pro Series round to be held in Adelaide at the end of March as both will be across the shorter distance," said Morgan.
“Whilst the distance makes no real difference to the way in which we set the car up, getting used to tracks that are not one of the ‘big three’ that we have data on is where the difference is. Calder and Adelaide are very similar, so it will be good to lay some laps down in front of a big crowd!”
The team will also be performing startups at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide in March across the weekend of March 1-4.
Fans are reminded that Darren Morgan Racing’s new website is now operational at www.darrenmorgan.com.au.
ANDRA PRO SERIES POINTS - AFTER ROUND THREE:
1. Damien Harris - 312.5
2. Andrew Cowin - 298.5
3. Darren Morgan - 278
4. Phil Lamattina - 243.5
5. Mark Sheehan - 149