The Atlantic Oils East Coast Thunder day one is in the books, with final qualifying complete for the 400 Thunder Professional categories.
Former national champion in Pro Bike, Glenn Wooster, will lead the small yet quality field into race day after a 7.27 in hot and muggy conditions at Sydney Dragway on Friday. Scott White was less than four hundredths of a second behind in second with a 7.31 and Daniel Rabnott sits in third with a 7.60 second pass. Pro Bike debutant Tony Frost had a slightly troubled day with an 8.24 but is expected to front for the semi final round on Saturday.
Pro Stock was a wild affair with debutant Clint George taking a ride into the gravel trap after his parachutes failed to blossom. Though new to Pro Stock, he is a veteran driver from the sportsman ranks and slid the car sideways to a stop on two wheels. Although the damage was limited to a flat-spotted set of tyres and stone chips, the incident ruled George out for the final round of qualifying.
Wayne Daley will enter race day as the top qualifier after a 6.915 and will face the championship contender from last season, Chris Soldatos, in the first round. Tyronne Tremayne will start from number two and faces Victoria’s Robert Dekert in early eliminations. Reigning champion Aaron Tremayne, the last of the six second qualifiers, takes on Canberra based veteran Bruce Leake whilst Jason Hedges will battle Nino Cavallo in what is a mouth-watering first round race.
Pro Alcohol sees two cagey veterans at the top of the qualifying list with former champions Gary Phillips and Steve Reed number one and two respectively. Relative rookie to the category Jake Donnelly revelled in the hot conditions, settling in the third position and he will face Robert Ambruosi – if Ambruosi is able to make the start after a massive wheel stand with all four wheels off the ground when the wheelie bar failed at launch in Q3.
Brett White rounds out the top half of the field in his Funny Car in fourth, with Wayne Price, Cameron Ambesi and John Cannuli the last of the qualified cars. The racers to miss the qualified field are Alf Sciacca Jnr and Justin Walshe.
Queensland’s Steve Ham picked up where he left off last season, a 5.66 enough to put a massive distance between himself and number two qualifier, Kelvin Lyle, who is comfortable with a 5.73.
Ben Bray and Geoff Gradden round out the top four. Gradden will race Mark Hichelwood in round one. John Zappia is in the field with a 5.86 but is yet to lay down a clean pass and will start from position six. Paul Cannuli and Emilio Spinozzi complete the qualified field. Marty Dack and Michelle Davies were the unlucky racers who did not qualify for race day and will watch from the sidelines.
Top Fuel struggled in the early qualifying sessions with the heat playing havoc with the 12,000 horsepower beasts but as the sun went down performances came to life. The final qualifying session was one of the best that the sport has seen, and will see one of the quickest fields in the 1000ft era face the starter on Saturday.
Reigning champion Wayne Newby is the top qualifier courtesy of a last ditch 3.83, only two thousandths of a second in front of teammate Damien Harris. The returning Peter Xiberras will start from third , and former champ and another racer returning after a hiatus, Phil Lamattina, will begin raceday from fourth and will take on Californian driver for Rapisarda Autosport, Ashely Sanford. Local hero Terry Sainty recorded a personal best 3.99 to mark his first foray into the sub-four second club, and former Australian champ Phil Read rounds out the field with a 4.19 after a massive fire in Q2 wiped out most of the electronic componentry in the engine bay.
Racing for the Atlantic Oils East Coast Thunder concludes on Saturday with racing from 9.30am. Eliminations for the 400 Thunder Professional Series begins at 2 pm, with tickets still available at www.sydneydragway.com.au or at the gate on the day.