Race day at Nitro Up North delivered action aplenty in front of a record crowd at Hidden Valley Drag Strip on Saturday night.
Queensland’s Gary Phillips made it two Nitro Up North Pro Slammer victories in a row with a win against Pro Slammer debutante Paul Mahouyet, who had a busy lead up to the final round with the team changing a motor after the semi finals.
“We just wanted to be out here for Lucas Oils this weekend, thank you for 20 years,” Phillip said, acknowledging his departing sponsor.
“We had a really short crew this weekend and congratulations to Paul and the Moits team for making the effort that they did to get to the start line.”
Darwin’s Scott MacLean advanced through the first round of Pro Slammer, taking out Sydney’s Sam Fenech, but fell to Phillips in the semi final. Unfortunately MacLean’s night would end against Phillips in the semis.
Mark Drew returned to form in Top Bike, with a series of low 6sec. passes enough to take home the trophy, while Chris Matheson went to the runner up spot.
The first round of Top Fuel saw Mark Sheehan narrowly avoid the wall, and opponent Terry Sainty, when he spun the tyres part way through his run. Sheehan crossed into Sainty’s lane, but fortunately after Sainty was already well ahead. In the same round, Peter Xiberras tore past Kelly Bettes just before the finish line with a top end charge of 498kmh, as both drivers recorded times in the four second zone.
Before racing, Bettes was hopeful of a track record speed of over 530kmh. The current record is held by the team she now drives for, Lamattina Top Fuel Racing.
“We are looking to do that and better, looking at resetting the track record is something we will all be aiming for,” she said.
The Darwin track didn’t disappoint, though she was unable to clinch the record early in the night.
“The speed is mind blowing, it’s so fast it takes your mind a little while to catch up to yourself in the run,” she said. “It really threw me back into the seat when I launched.”
Sheehan was able to make amends in the second round of the night, running the quickest time of the event to that point with a 4.73sec. pass.
“Unfortunately when the car got sideways in the first round we damaged a motor,” he said. “The team all worked hard to get the whole motor replaced by the next round and we were able to make it back out again to face Peter Xiberras.
“To run the 4.73 and set the pace was a confidence booster.”
But it was Bettes who had the last laugh with a 4.58sec. run in the final round to earn the Louie Rapisrda Low ET Trophy for the quickest run of the event, not to mention narrowly missing the track record.
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