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2018/19 IHRA Series. Round 2
2018/19 Kiwi Thunder. Round 1
2019 Wellington Invasion

Meremere Dragway, 12 January, 2019. Results

The Wellington Invasion meeting, at Meremere Dragway on January 12, incorporated round one of the Kiwi Thunder Group One National Series and round two of the IHRA National Series. The day was very hot and many drivers struggled to get down the track in qualifying.

Aeroflow Top Alcohol

Aeroflow Top Alcohol saw six competitors front to attempt to open the new series with a win. Anthony Marsh in the Mountshop A/Fuel Dragster and Johnny Alsop, in the Alsop Joinery T Bucket Altered, opened the first round of qualifying. Marsh took the top spot with a 5.451 at 273.05, while Alsop recorded a 6.9. Darren Hayes blew the burst panels in the Anarchy funny car.

Marsh was content with his first session pass and did not front for the second session. Johnny Alsop crossed the centreline and Dave Gauld, in the Kiwi Sheds 1934 Ford, struggled to an 8.4. Mark Vincent and Grant Briffault were up next in a pair of dragsters. Briffault recorded a 6.360 at 219.12 and Vincent a 6.9.

Johnny Alsop recorded a best of 6.081 on the way to a runner up position

Anthony Marsh lead from his first qualifier and won Aeroflow Top Alcohol with a best of 5.451 at 273.05 mph.
Photo by: Ralph Smith

With Hayes out, Anthony Marsh had a 5.896 at 242.89 bye in round one, with one cylinder out. The first paired run was between Grant Briffault and Dave Gauld. Briffault threw a blower belt in the burnout and Gauld struggled to a 8.5 solo win. The last pairing turned into a race between Johnny Alsop and Mark Vincent. Alsop took the win with a 6.131 at 233.08 over Vincents 6.406 at 184.

In the second round Anthony Marsh lite the tyres and coasted to a 19 second bye. Next up were two altereds, Johnny Alsop and Dave Gauld. Gauld shut down and Johnny went quicker again, recording a 6.081 at 230.65.

Johnny Alsop recorded a best of 6.081 on the way to a runner up position

Johnny Alsop recorded a best of 6.081 on the way to a runner up position.
Photo by: Ralph Smith

The final was between Marsh who had recorded two fives and Alsop with a best of 6.0. The Marsh Motosport A/FD took the win light with a 5.498 at 238.93 while Alsop pedaled to a 7.3 loose.

Top Doorslammer

The doorslammers had trouble getting down the track in qualifying. Barry Plumpton's 6.761 was enough to take the top spot in the Focus Construction Group Camaro. The only other driver in the 6's was Adam Prestney in the Pirtek Grand Am with a 6.956. Mark Bardsley had fitted a data logger and MSD Grid to the Rislone Camaro and was third with a 7.054. Rod Benjes recorded a 7.7 in the Childs Play Beretta. Nigel Dixon recorded a 7.8 in the Kruzin Kustoms Falcon in the first round of qualifying, but was not seen on track again. Gavin Green was all over the track in qualifying and only managed a 15 second pass. Squig Miles fronted in the STA Falcon, but oil pump problems saw him shut down twice and then not reappear.

Barry Plumpton top qualified with a 6.761 and set Low ET with a 6.158

Barry Plumpton top qualified with a 6.761 and set Low ET with a 6.158
Photo by: Ralph Smith

Round one of eliminations saw Barry Plumpton with an on and off 7.0 second bye. Rod Benjes also had a bye and improved with a 6.6. Adam Prestney recorded an 8.3 on yet another bye. The only paired pass saw Mark Bardsley realise the gains from his upgrades with a 6.161 at 228.81, a 0.28 second lowering of his PB, to defeat Gavin Greens 7.7 pass. The 6.161 is the second quickest blown doorslammer run in NZ, by 0.001 seconds to Wayne Yearbury's 6.160. Mark had a brake caliper seize, and flat spot a front tyre in the shutdown, necessitating a brake overhaul and a wheel change before round 2.

Mark Bardsley realised the gains from his upgrades with a 6.161 at 228.81

Mark Bardsley realised the gains from his upgrades with a 6.161 at 228.81 and a runner up position.
Photo by: Ralph Smith

Rod Benjes and Barry Plumpton opened round two. Rod had to lift, but his 7.4 at 161 easily defeated Barry's 8.0 run. Mark Bardsley cruised to a 6.638 at 212.16 when he saw that Adam Prestney had redlighted, but managed to get a second front puncture.

In the final, Rod Benjes again struggled to get down the track with an 8.0 pass, but he took the win, in front of his sponsor Chris Childs from the USA, when Mark Bardsley rolled through for a 12 second pass. Adam Prestney and Barry Plumpton then came out for a grudge race. Barry's 6.158 at 227.38 was low ET for the meeting and enough to take the win over Adams bouncing 6.454.

Sporting battle scars after loosing two doors at Masterton, Rod Benjes won round 1 of the 2019 Kiwi Thunder series at Meremere

Sporting battle scars after loosing two doors at Masterton, Rod Benjes won round 1 of the 2019 Kiwi Thunder series at Meremere.
Photo by: Ralph Smith

Highlights

Other highlights included:

  • Russell Cristoffersen breaking into the 5.7's for the first time with a best of 5.783 in his twin turbo dragster
  • Karen Hay running over the BB/AI blown altered record with a 219.94 mph pass, on the way to winning the Competition bracket