Willowbank Raceway - General News: American visitors boost strong fields for New Year's Thunder

American visitors boost strong fields for New Year's Thunder

20 December 2018

American visitors boost strong fields for New Year’s Thunder

Willowbank Raceway is set for a high-speed entry to 2019 with an action packed New Year’s Thunder event assured for the Ipswich venue on Saturday January 5. The round of the 400 Thunder National Championship series has attracted a top-quality entry list of over 130 drivers and riders from the USA, New Zealand and all over Australia.

The 500kph Top Fuel Dragster category will see American driver Ashley Sanford returning from California in an attempt to breakthrough for her first win after coming close with two runner-up finishes to her credit. The 24-year-old will be facing stiff competition from her Rapisarda Autosport International teammates, current points leader Sydney’s Wayne Newby, and 2017 Champion West Australian Damian Harris.

The field will be boosted by the appearance of expat Australian driver, Richie Crampton, who has been racing in the ultra-competitive American Championships for the last five years with eight event victories to his name. With the new US season not due to commence until February, Crampton has flown across the Pacific to make a guest appearance driving a second Lamattina Family dragster as team mate to reigning title holder Kelly Bettes. Australia’s first female Top Fuel Champion, Bettes will be looking for another good result at her home track.  Three-time Champion Phil Read will also be well and truly in contention making this one of the most wide-open events for some time.

Fifteen drivers will face the starter in the hotly contested Qld Rock Breakers Pro Slammer category with much of the fan’s attention focused on the fierce rivalry between defending title holder Paul Mahouyet and 11 times Champion, John Zappia. The duo is separated by just two championship points and are sure to be centre stage again despite a long list of other drivers well capable of claiming victory at the event including Sam Fenech, Steven Ham, Ben & Victor Bar along with last event winner, Kelvin Lyle.

The Pro Alcohol class will see Melbourne’s Rob Ambrousi trying to score back to back event wins at the wheel of his Funny Car against very strong opposition including 20-time Champion Gary Phillips, reigning title holder Steven Reed, Victorians Chris Hargrave and Wayne Price, Sydney’s Russell Mills and local driver Luke Marsden.

A full field of eight Pro Stock sedan drivers have nominated for the New Year’s Thunder with Melbourne’s Chris Soldatas trying to defend his points lead. The powerhouse Mega Fuels two car team of Aaron and Tyrone Tremayne are fired up for the clash at the home track after Tyrone lost a controversial final to the Victorian at the opening round of the series in Sydney. Wayne Daley, Paul Beauchamp and Brian Pursell will round out the Queensland contingent while Perth’s Jodi Racco and Perth’s Nino Cavallo add to the interstate representation.

Reigning Australian Pro Bike Champion Maurice Allan missed the first round of the current series while racing overseas and now faces an uphill battle to retain his title against a quality field including series leader Glen Wooster, Andrew Badcock, Lochie Ireland, Ryan Learmonth and Daniel Rabnott.

The Professional classes will be backed by rounds of the 400 Thunder Australian Championships for five of the Sportsman categories providing a packed night of quality racing under lights. Qualifying will commence on track from 12.30pm. The main program begins at 5.00pm while free family entertainment is also scheduled from 4.00pm including appearances by the immensely popular children’s PJ Masks characters, face painting and jumping castles for the kids.

The full competitor entry list can be seen here

Event information here