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2018/19 IHRA Series. Round 4
2019 Kiwi Thunder Series. Round 3
2019 IHRA New Zealand Nationals

Meremere Dragway, 9 & 10 March, 2019. Results | IHRA Points after Round 4 | Kiwi Thunder Points after Round 3

The 2019 IHRA New Zealand Nationals, held at Meremere Dragway, were the final round of the 2018/19 IHRA National Series and Round 3 of the 2019 Kiwi Thunder Series. Persistant rain stopped after lunch and racing commenced about 2pm on Saturday.

Aeroflow Top Alcohol

Aeroflow Top Alcohol saw seven competitors front to attempt to win New Zealands most prestigous drag racing title. The first round of qualifying saw Chris Johnston had a weaving run to record a 6.0 at 244.2 mph and Anthony Marsh set the early pace with a 5.460 at 255.34. Both dragsters were sporting Mountshop and Marsh Motorsport sponsorship with Chris having a reversed colour scheme. Johnny Alsop was in the Alsop Racing TA/Altered for the first time without his brother Nigel and had to lift, resulting in a 8.0 timeslip. Todd Vincent and newcomer Tamara Silk both failed to start and did not make a pass.

Round two of qualifying saw Marsh having to lift with tyre shake for a 6.530 at 270.5 mph. Todd Vincent had his chutes come out at half track for a 7.7. Tamara Silk in the Lucas Oils TA/Dragster got down the track with a 7.2. Bryan Norman was fourth in his FED AA/D with a 6.392 at 220.58. Simon Fowke recorded a 7.066 57 Chev funny car. Johnny Alsop's 6.132 at 228.07 put him in third. Chris Johnston improved with a 5.793 at 253.42, but remained in second.

Anthony Marsh was the only driver to come out for the final session, in the dark at 8 pm. He unleased a 5.343 at a shut off 271.84 to solidify the top spot with the quickest Top Alcohol pass in Australasia.

Tamara Silk opened round one of eliminations facing the top qualifier Anthony Marsh. Her 6.129 at 229.04 PB was no match for Anthony's 5.467 at 269.78 pass. The second pairing was Simon Fowke and Chris Johnston. Chris's 5.499 at 260.51 easily disposed of Simon's 6.9 effort. The last pairing was between two cars from the South Island, Johnny Alsop in the altered and Bryan Norman in the FED. Johnny took the win with a 6.053 at 226.20 over a 6.234 at 226.70.

Alsop did not front for the second round which became two solo passes. Marsh recorded a 5.458 at 267.96 and Johnston a 5.555 at 262.64.

Both Anthony Marsh and Chris Johnston had wheels up launches in the Aeroflow Top Alcohol final

Both Anthony Marsh and Chris Johnston had wheels up launches in the Aeroflow Top Alcohol final.
Photo by: Ralph Smith

The final was now between the two Mount Shop and Marsh Motorsport sponsored cars. Chris won the start line battle, 0.042 to 0.120, and that set up his win as Anthony's 5.414 at 271.30 was quicker than Chris's 5.433 at 262.95, but not quick enough. Chris's winning margin was 0.059 and it was a great way to finish the Aeroflow Top Alcohol bracket with the quickest ever side by side Top Alcohol race.

1st Auto Parts Top Doorslammer

Eight competitors fronted for 1st Auto Parts Top Doorslammer. Rod Benjes in the Childs Play Beretta led the first qualifying session with a 6.809 at only 174.03 mph. Adam Prestney in the Pirtek Pontiac Grand Am spun and hit the wall, with no injuries to himself, after recording an 8 second pass, and was out of the meeting. Gavin Green in the Pro Parts 68 Firebird struggled to a 10 second pass. Nigel Dixon in the Kruzin Kustoms BF Falcon dopped some oil in the burnout and did not make a pass. Barry Plumpton had to back off in the Focus Construction Camaro, recording an 8.3 to be second at the end of the session.

The second qualifying session saw Rod Benjes idle down the track while Gavin Green improved with a 7.198. Barry Plumpton also improved with a 6.958 at 205.88 mph. Nigel Dixon moved to the top spot with a 6.172 PB at 235.10, that would be low ET for the meeting. Mark Bardsley, in the Rislone Camaro, backed off to a 7.4 at only 169 mph with a damaged lifter. Squig Miles recorded a PB of 6.860 at 205.88 mph to put the STA Falcon into third position.

The third round of qualifying saw Gavin Green loose his blower belt at the launch. Cess Miller made a wheels up 10 second pass in his 59 Impala and Barry Plumpton failed to improve his position with a 7.3.

Round one of eliminations opened with Barry Plumpton and Gavin Green. Gavin improved upon his qualifying time, but his 6.946 at 231.64 was beaten by Barry's 6.745 at 203.12. Rod Benjes had a 6.858 at 206.01 solo when Cess Miller failed to show. Squig Miles got a win with a 7.276 at 194.52 when Mark Bardsley blew both burst panels in his burnout. Nigel Dixon drifted toward the centre line and backed of to a 6.674 at 208.88 bye run, which was low ET for the round.

Round two saw Barry Plumpton record a 6.464 at 213.57 to defeat Nigel Dixon's 6.949 at a backing off 158.04. Squig Miles failed to front after damaging his diff in the first round, handing Rod Benjes another solo. Rod backed off to a 7.2 at 177 after getting close to the centre line.

In the final Benjes had his first paired race of eliminations. The Childs Play Beretta recorded its best pass of the weekend, a 6.471 at 226.92, to take the win over Barry Plumpton's tyre shaking 7.717 at 131, which saw him get close to the centre line. It was Rods second Nationals Top Doorslammer title.

Rod Benjes won Top Doorslammer in the Childs Play Beretta

Rod Benjes won Top Doorslammer in the Childs Play Beretta.
Photo by: Ralph Smith

Highlights

Other highlights included:

  • After the Top Doorslammer final, Gavin Green and Mark Bardsley came out for a grudge race. Gavin recorded PB's of 6.223 and 237.4 to beat Mark's 6.258 at 220.4. It was the quickest side by side Top Doorslammer race in New Zealand.
  • Shane Eperjesi from Lake Dallas, Texas recorded a 6.782 at 191.84 to win Competition Bike. It was the first 6 second pass by a bike other than a Top Fuel bike in New Zealand.
  • Brothers Chris and Lee Sherwin winning Super Street and Super Sedan
Shane Eperjesi from Lake Dallas, Texas recorded a 6.782 at 191.84 to win Competition Bike.

Shane Eperjesi from Lake Dallas, Texas recorded a 6.782 at 191.84 to win Competition Bike.
Photo by: Ralph Smith