Willowbank, Australia final summary

A day of on-track final eliminator dramas highlighted an exciting finish to the 38th iTEL Community Telco Drag Racing Nationals at Willowbank Raceway today. In all, three Queensland drivers were crowned iTEL National titleholders to collect...

A day of on-track final eliminator dramas highlighted an exciting finish to the 38th iTEL Community Telco Drag Racing Nationals at Willowbank Raceway today.

In all, three Queensland drivers were crowned iTEL National titleholders to collect half of the spoils in the professional category, with Gary Phillips enjoying one-way traffic in Top Alcohol to secure the perfect start to his defence of the Australian Championship.

Toowoomba's Tony Wedlock turned in an awesome display to capture Pro Stock honours while Brett Stevens showed up perennial favourite Jay Upton who was left to spectate after his machine failed at the start in Top Bike.

But it was the Top Fuelers that set the Ipswich track alight and true to recent form Johnny Cowin completed a consistent rout of the bracket, turning in a 5.07-second pass to defeat Terry Sainty (5.55) in the final.

Cowin progressed through to the main stage of final eliminator courtesy of some powerhouse displays and has marked himself as the one to beat when the Top Fuelers return to Willowbank for round two of the Australian Championship series on January 3.

Based on consistency, Cowin was a cut above the rest and the controversial early exit of reigning Australian Champion Jim Read, who was ruled to have had a fluid leak while staging, made the job all that easier for Cowin.

Earlier in Top Alcohol, Phillips was pitted against major prospect Wayne Newby who unfortunately broke a supercharger and was another forced to watch from the start line, as his opponent enjoyed an unopposed pass over the quarter mile.

A 5.79 second pass was a reasonable run for Phillips and Willowbank Raceway being his test track, there's sure to be plenty for the team to work on before the January 3 New Year's bash.

"One car did everything right top qualified, ran the quickest time and we captured the iTEL Nationals title," said Phillips.

"The other was a disappointing DNQ (Did not qualify) which was our first ever in Top- Doorslammer."

Winner of the Top Bike bracket, Brett Stevens came away from the iTEL Nationals feature as the most successful competitor.

Stevens (7.55 seconds) claimed bragging rights in Top Bike while the Brisbane driver was pipped at the post by Steve Stanic (6.263) in Top Doorslammer.

The Doorslammer spectacle provided the most intense racing of the iTEL Nationals and the one/two finish over two brackets was a good start to Stevens' new season campaign.

"I have been waiting for years to run six seconds and 200mph on this bike," said Stevens.

"We did it at this meeting and the best part was we won it aswell."

"It was awesome to have two vehicles in Group one finals and to win one of them."

Ironically, Wedlock was also the benefactor of some misfortune to his finals opponent, when number one qualifier Peter Ridgeway jumped the gun and red-lighted.

But with competition in the bracket fierce over all three days of the iTEL Nationals, Wedlock proved himself to be a worthy National titleholder and will boast added confidence moving into the new year.

"We won against Peter (Ridgeway) when he had a problem at the Winternationals but it was good to meet him here and win fair and square," said Wedlock.

In the only other group one showdown, Maurice Allen (7.849) claimed a one second advantage over Neville Langley(8.91)in Pro Bike.

Willowbank Raceway officials were happy with the response to the iTEL Nationals that was moved to the November timeslot to kickstart the new season of Australian drag racing.

"Given the challenges of the wet weather experienced on Saturday and the fact that most of Brisbane had torrential downpours today we are happy with the turnout for this event," said Raceway General Manager, Harry Rowsell.

"We are gearing up for a crackerjack season and are anticipating a positive response to our New Year opener on January 3, 2004.

"Willowbank Raceway is in a privileged position in that we will host the last motorsport event in 2003 and will welcome in 2004 with a showcase of the top two drag racing brackets, Top Fuel and Top Alcohol."

The 38th iTEL Nationals enjoys the continued support of the Queensland Government through Queensland Events and the Department of Sport and Recreation.

For a full run down of today's results visit www.willowbank-raceway.com.au

-bam-

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Series GENERAL