John Zappia took out the first WA Summer Slam Series event of the season in his Holden Monaro Top Doorslammer, but the veteran racer thinks a performance opportunity may have gone begging.
The event started awkwardly for Zappia, as a supercharger backfire in the compulsory qualifying round set the team back early in the night.
“We came out with a 5.63 tune up on the first run of the day and didn't really back it down, so with a 118 degree racetrack we didn't have much luck,” Zappia said.
“With the Zappia Racing Holden Monaro backed down for the compulsory qualifier it took off well and shifted into second gear automatically as it is meant to do, but I also made a shift and so it jumped to third gear. That pulled down the engine and it banged the blower. That was my fault as a driver with old habits!”
Zappia was due to face Marty Dack in the elimination round. With Dack's time of 5.964 in qualifying, he had the upper hand, but something broke in his Ford Mustang during the burnout and Zappia was left to take a solo run.
“Fortunately the motor was okay after our qualifying pop so we were able to put the blower back on and front up for the first round,” Zappia said. “Marty got pushed back so then it was just us. The car left well but overpowered the top of first gear and started to rattle, so I had to pedal for a 5.738/257.36mph – our highest ever speed for a run with a pedal. It showed us there was a lot of power there.”
Zappia was looking forward to a big final round against Daniel Gregorini, but when word came through that Gregorini had problems and wouldn't be able to make the call, the team decided to go for broke.
“Once we knew Daniel was broken we threw some more clutch at it to see what it would do,” Zappia said. “It launched hot with a 0.971 60 foot time and picked the front wheels up. I punched second gear hoping it would drop the front wheels down and I could regain control but it didn't, and we crossed the centre line.
“Solos aren't the way we want to win races and we would have loved to have taken on Marty and Daniel. It was a wild night at the Summer Slam with a few racers giving the wall a rub and lots of action. There were ten cars there who all had a shot and it bodes well for the strength of the series for the rest of the season.”
While the victory was a happy occasion, Zappia felt that there was more in the conditions – including perhaps that elusive 5.5 second pass.
“The air was really good, we should have gone really fast but we just didn't capitalise on it,” he said. “We had 28 water grains, which is really low, and the air ended up 700 feet of density altitude. There was a lot of power out there, which we saw with a couple of teams running personal best times.”
Zappia will return to Perth Motorplex on December 14 for the WA Sportsman Showdown, where he will race in Top Comp.
“We have a bit more power now and we need to learn how to use it more effectively. We were going to sit this event out and target the next round of the Summer Slam in January, but I think December 14 will give us a chance to try some stuff and see if it works better for us.”