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Article Date: 11 June 2016

Saturday 11th June, 2016 marked the third day of the 2016 City of Ipswich Winternationals, and while a little morning cloud cover over the track kept track temperatures down for the first half of the day, nothing could cool down the racing with a bumper field of 406 entrants enjoying yet another day of memory-making, record-tumbling racing at Willowbank Raceway.

With the grandstands at capacity, crowds took to the grass hill on the eastern side of the complex for the duration of the quarter mile, vying for a little real estate from which to catch the wild, Winternationals racing action. Crowd figures peaked early in the morning and left the grandstands packed until the very final pass late in the evening, creating an electric atmosphere.

In return, drivers in all classes turned on a show to give the fans their money’s worth.

Saturday marked the first round of competition for many of the Sportsman fields, and the final two rounds of qualifying for the Pro Classes. Willowbank Raceway track staff made sure the track was in stellar condition, resulting in a supremely-sticky track that caught many racers by surprise, and saw track records tumble in many classes.

Pro Stock saw the Tremayne family duke it out. Tyronne Tremayne ran the first 6sec pass of Pro Stock at the 2016 Winters, and the very next pass was joined in the 6sec Club by Aaron Tremayne and Wayne Daley.

The Wallace Bishop Loyal Watches Pro Slammer field became the first Pro Class category to see a Competition Round. Stuart Bishop was involved in a spectacular fireworks display which had his Wallace Bishop-backed Camaro rolling through the traps sideways and on fire. Bishop emerged soon after unscathed, and humbly apologised on the Big Screen and the Live Stream to those concerned about his welfare, and for delaying racing.

Elsewhere in the Slammer field, both Victor and son Ben Bray lived to race another day, and will join Pino Priolo, Jeffrey Wilson, Gary Phillips, Mark Belleri, Grant O’Rourke and John Zappia in Round Two of Pro Slammer.

Hot off the back of claiming the crown as the fastest Pro Alcohol car in the world with his 5.35sec@236mph, John Cannuli kept taking the fight to current Championship leader Garry Phillips. Cannuli and Phillips are both well under the Willowbank track record for Pro Alcohol ET, with Phillips also laying claim to the speed record with his 268mph in Q2. Neither Phillips nor Cannuli returned for the afternoon’s Third Qualifier – Phillips opting to bunker down for Sunday’s competition round while Cannuli nursed his engine back to health after its spectacular failure.

In Top Fuel, Larry Dixon Top Qualified in Q2 with a 4.54sec at 329mph. Alongside him, Wayne Newby kept pace with a 4.55sec at 314mph. A spectacle loved by the crowd, the run becomes the quickest side-by-side pass ever in Australia.

Top Fueler Q3 was decidedly quieter with Peter Xiberras sidelined all day due to a mystery engine failure during a routine warm-up. He missed Q2 and Q3 and heads in to Sunday’s Competition rounds in fifth place.

Darren Morgan has delighted fans every time he’s taken the track this meeting, showing that he and his team have definitely got a handle on the track. He’s consistently dropped his times running a best of 4.63sec in the last session, storming home with a 331.04mph Trap Speed. Larry Dixon couldn’t help but show this up, treating the crowd to a barn-storming 4.59-second pass with a whopping 331.77mph Trap Speed – a new Speed record for Willowbank Raceway.

Sunday’s racing will see all classes take to the track for Competition Rounds. From here on, every round becomes a must-win if racers want to see themselves in the afternoon’s Finals, and with days’ worth of data up their sleeves and a track surface that’s never looked better, you’d be mad to miss the nail-biting action from the Winternationals Finals.

Check out ticketing information at www.willowbankraceway.com.au and if you can’t get yourself trackside, subscribe to the 400 Thunder Live Stream where you’ll get front row seats to the best Drag Racing action in Australia - http://400thunder.5stream.com/content.php?id=12620.

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