Pro Slammer fans are in for another title fight at the 52nd running of the 2019 Gulf Western Oil Winternationals.
The two drivers have turned on some of the most intense on track battles in recent times. Zappia has dominated the ‘slammer division for more than a decade, while Mouhayet is a man driven to win and be No.1.
The first season of 400 Thunder Pro Slammer saw Zappia crowned Champion in 2015/16. The following season it was Mark Belleri and then Mouhayet in 2017/18.
At Sydney’s Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder, Zappia took on Mouhayet in the final and gave the fans one of the most thrilling Pro Slammer races this season. Zappia knew that the race was a must win if he was to stay within reach of the championship.
Fans will remember last season’s championship race at the 2018 Winternationals, where Zappia drove the wheels off his Monaro with the front end in the air and tagged the Willowbank concrete wall to lose the title to Mouhayet.
A month ago, in Sydney, it was Mouhayet’s turn to get ugly when he was forced to lift as his front wheels were a few feet off the deck!
Zappia quoted, “The gap has closed up a little bit in the points (-69) and while it would still take a miracle to win the championship, we are going to give it our best shot”.
Mouhayet was testing a new engine combination in the Moits/Mack / Komatsu Ford Mustang on the weekend’s at Willowbank’s Winter Warm-Up and came away with consistent 5.60s over the two days.
“I think we are further ahead than this time last year, but at the same time it’s always going to be a battle”, said Mouhayet. “This class is tough, but we are pretty confident and everything seems to be good. I like racing anyone who is in the opposite lane, but obviously you need to tread carefully when you race John (Zappia). He’s got a lot of data and has the runs on the board but I don’t really change the way I do things whether I race someone who has qualified one or eight! I try and put things together that will beat the car in the other lane”.
“It should be a great show this weekend, I love racing John and hopefully we do well again. I only need to get past the second round to win the championship, but I’d like to repeat last year and also win the event.
The 2018/19 season has seen a number of Pro Slammer drivers step up. Perth’s Kelvin Lyle winning at Rd 2 in Sydney, and Steven Ham making two back-to-back finals.
And let’s not forget Michelle Davies – the fastest female in Pro Slammer – who is gaining plenty of experience set thanks to the support of husband Gareth and guidance from Mouhayet.
Ex-Darwin, now Queenslander Scott McLean will be in contention at the Winters following a stellar 5.653 at 256.94 pass at the recent Winters Warm Up test session.
Ben and Victor Bray came to the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder event with new 4-speed transmissions. Driving the oldest car in the field, Victor punched out a solid 5.87 ET, with plenty more to come. Both will be racing at their sponsors event and looking to win.
The 2019 Winternationals has gathered a quality field of 14 cars and with the elimination format, that means six cars could be going home before racing on Sunday.
Zappia is 69 points behind the reigning champ and with 116 points on the table, this will be a title fight worth watching.
Pro Slammer qualifying kicks off on Friday at 3.39pm, with session 2 & 3 on Saturday scheduled for 1.57pm and 4.07pm. On Sunday the championship will be decided on race day with Rd 1 at 11.52am.
For more info and ticket sales head to www.willowbankraceway.com.au
To watch the 52nd Winternationals LIVE head over to https://play.ovo.com.au/event/3600