400 Thunder’s sportsman divisions are filled to the brim ahead of the commencement of Gulf Western Oil Winternationals qualifying today at Willowbank Raceway in Queensland.

Out of 501 total entries, 433 of those are sportsman racers, travelling from across the country to be a part of Australia’s largest drag racing event and all of the championships remain up for grabs.

Competition is a three horse race between Queenslanders Tony Bellert, Mike Bailey and Stew Walsh. Bellert and Bailey sit on the maximum 250 point cap while Walsh lies in wait 30 points back. With a hat trick of wins in the last three events, Bellert’s dragster is a favourite for the championship.

A strong 21 car field has entered for Super Stock, which features a State of Origin style battle for the championship with two Queensland and two New South Wales racers each in the fight. Maroons Wade Moran and Omar Sedmak are leading on 220 and 160 points respectively, while Blues John Kabboura and Fred Nicastri sit on 150 and 140 points. To be in with a shot, Kabboura and Nicastri will have to rely on Moran missing the field before going on to the final round themselves.

Like Super Stock, Competition Bike has a full field but at an exact 16 riders, no one will risk missing race day. This means three riders will be in contention for the championship: Queensland’s Peter Puznik and New South Wales father and son Ken and Chris Collin. Puznik and Ken have the maximum 250 points but at just 30 points behind, Chris is definitely within striking distance.

Speaking of father and son rivalry, Supercharged Outlaws features just that with Queensland’s Bill Fletcher and son Josh on 250 points each. Jim Holley from New South Wales holds third with 170 points but would need a miracle to claw back the difference before the end of the event.

While much attention is on former national Modified champion Kelly Bettes this weekend as she shoots for a Top Fuel title, it’s Queensland’s Kellie Kidd who leads the current Modified championship with 250 points, ahead of reigning champion Stephen Gouws on 220 points and Phil Bellert on 200 points.

New South Wales remains a Top Sportsman stronghold with the top two drivers, David Foreman and Darryl Stephen, both sitting on maximum points. New Year Thunder winner Daniel Morris (Queensland) is dangerous just ten points behind, with Tony Whyatt (Queensland) a further 20 back, as is former champion Steve Fowler (New South Wales).

Queensland’s Paul Doeblien and Kevin Langridge hold sway in Super Sedan on 250 and 240 points respectively, while the well travelled South Australian John Kapiris stalks on 200 points. A remarkable 91 competitors have contested Super Sedan in total this season, the most of any bracket.

But when it comes to championship scenarios, none are crazier than Modified Bike where an incredible eight riders sit on maximum points going into the points finale. New South Wales’ Joe Khoury is followed by Queensland’s Paul de Roo, Alan Annis, Steven Day, Ian Reed, Sam Taylor, Gary Khittle and Phil White. Another four riders are then still within contention further back including Sean Ricketts (NSW, 230 points), Mick Mundey (Queensland, 210 points), Craig Banks (Queensland, 200 points) and Robert Simmonds (NSW, 190 points).

Super Street’s list of championship contenders is a little smaller with Queensland’s Shaun Doeblien and New South Wales’ David McGlinn both on 250 points. Craig Warren (NSW, 220 points), Mitchell Bauer (Queensland, 210 points) and Ray Ross (Queensland, 190 points) are also capable of taking home the gold 400 Thunder championship trophy.

Finally to Junior Dragster, where three drivers can still take out the championship. Queensland’s Liezel Gouws holds a valuable 240 points, with New South Wales’ Nicolas Polito on 220 points and Queensland’s Emma Wagensveld on 210 points.

400 Thunder sportsman qualifying commences today at Willowbank Raceway, with eliminations beginning as soon as Saturday morning. With not a single division decided, the sportsman racing will be full of championship thrills.


For further information please contact Kevin Prendergast.


Email:  manager@400thunder.com.au