Saturday, September 25, 2021

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HomeIssue 23Drag fans meet challenge, on the track and off

Drag fans meet challenge, on the track and off

The Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series saw old faces and new in the winner’s circle of Alice Springs Inland Dragway as drivers and riders from across Australia claimed victories on the weekend.

The Desert Nationals saw ANDRA Silver Christmas Tree trophies going home with Brodie Zappia (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster), Lisa Garbellini (Super Street), Dean Gunson (Modified Bike), Desmond Jeffree (Super Sedan) and Vlado Turic (Top Sportsman).

John Zappia fired back with a Desert Nationals win yesterday. The WA driver defeated the Northern Territory’s Matt Abel in the final round, 5.853 to 5.960, and took over the lead of the Top Doorslammer points.

Meanwhile, Desmond Jeffree’s Super Sedan win had plenty of emotion attached, as his struggle to even make it to the “Northern Swing” paid off big time with a popular win.

Jeffree is well known for helping out many other competitors in the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series, and all were happy to see him take home the trophy.

“We were building a new motor in the two weeks before we were due to head off, but it blew up on the dyno,” he said.

“The boys did so many late nights just to even get it here. We packed the grandkids in the motor home for this trip and everything gelled into place.

“It might have been the slowest car I have driven in my life. I was nearly ready to paint a race number on the motorhome!”

Vlado Turic (pictured, Amber Simms Photography) was not to be stopped in Top Sportsman, as the top qualifier navigated his way through the rounds for his final win against Kevin Mcivor.

Turic defeated Leon Davies in round one, who amazingly managed to rebuild his car following a pit area fire at the start of the event.

Modified Bike saw Dean Gunson’s Kawasaki get by Top Qualifier Brusnahan’s Suzuki in a close final round. Gunson booked his spot in the final with victory over Gordon Crawford in the opening round, while Brusnahan had taken victory from Gary Flatt.

In Super Street, WA’s Lisa Garbellini said it was a dream come true to win her second straight Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series event, as she backed up her Top End Nationals win from Darwin with victory at the Desert Nationals.

“It was definitely worth the trip, but I don’t think my husband will take me on trips anymore,” she laughed, having once again defeated Paul Garbellini in the semi finals.

“I’m on top of the world and I can’t believe it. To go travelling and win makes it all worth it.”

Lisa took out top qualifier Michael O’Brien in round one. After eliminating her husband in the semi finals, she then faced Michael Bridges in the final. It was a repeat of the Top End Nationals, and the result was the same.

With a bag of points, Lisa said she will contest the two Perth rounds of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series.

For now, there is just the long drive home due to the South Australian lockdown: “I will drive with Paul back up to Katherine, before we can head across to WA. It will take five days to drive home but we will get it done!”

The Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster might have been confused with the Top Doorslammer final of the Australian Drag Racing Championship, as the surnames Zappia and Abel battled it out. WA’s Brodie Zappia is the nephew of John Zappia, and he emulated his uncle’s victory with his own win against the NT’s Aidan Abel, son of Matt Abel.

Zappia said Alice Springs Inland Dragway has been a good track to him, as the site of his first ANDRA Christmas Tree win in 2019.

“We had some challenges in Darwin and what we are running today in Alice Springs is a completely different configuration. We overcame the challenge and got there in the end; the confidence is coming back.”

Officials and volunteers at Alice Springs Inland Dragway and the dozens of racers from across Australia braved changing border closures and lockdowns to make the Desert Nationals happen.

ANDRA CEO Brett Stevens said it demonstrated the commitment of racers to supporting the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series: “The future is always changing but for now we have two rounds in the books and some very happy winners.

Congratulations to everybody for just making it to Darwin and Alice Springs – we thank you.”

– Contributed

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