Official preview: 400 Thunder storm rolls into Darwin
A new 400 Thunder season is set to explode with the running of Nitro Up North at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Dragway this Friday and Saturday, July 13-14.
The event features the opening rounds of the 2018/19 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series for Pro Slammer and Top Bike, set to play out in front of a passionate Northern Territory audience.
Twelve entries are on the card for Pro Slammer, lead by new champion Paul Mouhayet and the Mack/Komatsu Ford Mustang. After earning the title in his rookie season, Mouhayet (NSW) will have a target on his back and no one will be taking more shots than dethroned former champion John Zappia (WA). Defeat has rarely sat well with Zappia and he will be throwing everything he has at his famed Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro.
The field will have a different look to last year with several new additions. Australian drag racing legend Victor Bray (Qld) will be back in the mix, along with son Ben Bray. In total, Bray’s Gulf Western Oil team will make up a quarter of the field, with the USA’s Frankie Taylor to join the fray once again in his second last event on Australian soil.
Matt Abel will represent the NT once more in his quick 57 Chev, while first time attendees to Darwin will include Pro Slammer rookies Mark Hinchelwood (NSW) and Emilio Spinozzi (NSW).
Throw in Hidden Valley-experienced Marty Dack (WA), Sam Fenech (NSW), Daniel Gregorini (WA) and Kelvin Lyle (WA) and just qualifying for the eight car field will be an achievement.
In Top Bike, Chris Matheson (Qld) comes in hot after recording one of his quickest times ever during the Winternationals several weeks ago. He will have his eyes on resetting the Hidden Valley track record for motorcycles, which currently sits at 6.263 seconds.
Matheson will face tough competition from Mark Drew (WA), winner of last year’s event. The dark horse will be former national Jay Upton (WA), who brings his streamlined nitro motorcycle to Darwin for the first time. Les Holden (WA) and Tony Wood (WA) complete the nitro bike field.
As well as the official 400 Thunder competition, newly crowned 400 Thunder Top Fuel national champion Kelly Bettes (Qld) will take part in match racing combat against Anthony Begley (WA) in their 10,000 horsepower, 500kph Top Fuel dragsters.
Qualifying for Nitro Up North, the first event of the 2018/19 400 Thunder season begins on Friday with eliminations commencing Saturday.
For more information head to www.hiddenvalleydrags.com.