John Zappia has turned mad scientist recently with his Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro, testing a variety of theories in the Summer Slam Series at Perth Motorplex on Saturday.
Using his third-in-line spare engine, Zappia reached the final of the Summer Slam before a lean condition in one cylinder resulted in a blown burst panel, allowing Mark Chapman to come around the outside for victory.
Zappia said the third spare engine was one that hadn't been used for three years and there was a learning curve to update its tune to new components. The team also decided to test a four speed B&J Transmission.
“There was definitely a learning curve at this event,” he explained.
“On our first qualifying run we had a major air leak and we ran out of air before it got to the finish line, slowing to a 5.86.
“We fixed that, came out for the second run and it had quicker increments to the eighth mile going 3.79, but then it burned a spark plug and banged the burst panel. I pushed the clutch in and rolled through and we settled for qualifying second with our first pass.”
The elimination round saw Zappia take on Frank Taylor. This time the troubles seemed to be over with just a quick pedal needed to get through slight tyre shake and a 5.72/254mph appearing on the timing boards.
“The previous best we had done with this engine was a 5.75 at 250mph. We were pretty impressed and knew we were heading in the right direction,” Zappia said.
“We had put more fuel into cylinder one to solve the lean issue and we got a great pass in for the win.”
The performance came at the right time, granting Zappia a spot in the A Final against Chapman. There the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro left well before the number one cylinder came back to haunt the team.
“For the final we left with a very quick 0.962 60 foot time and the car went dead straight. It only just rattled and I pedalled to shift early. All was going good until it melted the number one spark plug again and popped the burst panel. I tried to hang on to the finish line but Mark got around me with a slightly quicker 5.94 to our 5.97.”
With the team able to test many different setups on the car at the last few events, Zappia will return at the ANDRA Grand Finals in just over a week with a brand new Noonan engine to combine horsepower with the four speed B&J Transmission.
“We are quite excited to come out with the new Noonan motor for the Grand Final,” he said. “We are starting to get a handle on the four speed as well, so hopefully we can take the next step and aim for consistency and added performance.
“More gears seems to be the way to go but we need to put more laps on it. When we were running for a championship we didn't want to risk trying the four speed as we hadn’t done enough passes in testing. As we are in R&D mode we want to test as many different things as possible and hopefully we will find something better to take with us to Sydney for Nitro Thunder in May.
“We are really building our parts depth so both our number one and number two engines will be Noonan engines with Noonan cylinder heads. We can also service the motor we ran on the weekend and have it go back to being our third spare, knowing what it needs to be happy.”
Zappia Racing is looking forward to seeing as many sponsors, supporters and fans as possible come out to the Perth Motorplex on April 6 and 7 for the Grand Final event, featuring the finals of the Summit Sportsman Series with many of the top eastern states sportsman racers competing against local racers for the championship.