DRAG RACING: Katavatis' Nitro Redemption at Perth Motorplex

Its been 7 long, grueling weeks without the sweet sting of Nitro at the ‘Plex

The postponement of the January 8 event a few weeks ago meant that the originally scheduled “Nitro Max” presented by The House and Land Expert, had now become “Nitro SLAM” for last Saturday, January 29 at Perth Motorplex.

“Good things come to those who wait” – Expectations were high for an exciting night of racing. But the high temperatures forecasted for the event brought a new challenge for the teams and track staff, high temps mean hot air and hot tracks, which makes chasing the engine tune and clutch settings more of a dark art for teams and tuners alike.

Nitro MAX saw the defending series champions – Andrew Katavatis with “The Beach Bomb” Nitro Funny car coming into the night with determination, after suffering a defeat in the final run of the series opener back in December last year, losing the A final to Matt Abel, ending their winning streak of previous season to take home the runner-up trophy on the night.

Matt Abel returned to pilot “Nitro Thunder” and appeared as a favourite before the night began, after taking out opening round honours for the new season. But the unpredictability of Nitro kept the team, and tuner Rory Taylor (Speed Torque Engineering) quite reserved before the first round of racing began.

The Begley family was back in force for round 2 – fielding Anthony Begley (Chucky’s Toy) and Brodie Pilkington (Dark Knight). Begley seemingly aiming for consistency, trying to get the “Chucky’s Toy” Outlaw Fuel Altered machine down the track with clean passes, and hoping for a little luck against the more powerful Funny Cars. While Brodie Pilkington looms as an underdog in “Dark Knight” with a late call to take over driving duties from Emma Begley for the night. Pilkington very much a threat after Emma managed to set the Low E.T. of the round back in December with a 5.636s run at 416kph against father Anthony in 3rd round of racing.

PHOTO: Kyle Putland’s Under Pressure – Shane Lawrie / Turn 7 Media

New additions for Round 2 of WA Nitro MAX were Kyle Putland (Under Pressure) and Michael Brooks (Nitro Mayhem). Putland was primed and ready to put on a show with his O/FD combination, turning his Top Fuel Dragster into a Nitro Max contender by removing one magneto, downsizing the fuel pump and reducing the supercharger overdrive to meet the series rules. The team has only 1 full-track pass under their belt prior to the night – an impressive 5.7s run performed in testing a few weeks prior. Michael Brooks was a welcome return, with “Nitro Mayhem” carrying the honor of being “Australia’s Fastest FED” Nostalgia Top Fuel machine, he’s had a busy off season; a wild ride into the sand last season caused significant damage to the car, requiring a full front-half replacement of the chassis.

Round 1
Anthony Begley (Chucky’s Toy) v Matt Abel (Nitro Thunder) [WIN]
Begley nailed Abel to the starting tree, pulling out a 0.2s Reaction time advantage, before a minor fuel issue brought his charge to an end, Abel flew past on a low-flying mission to reach the other end first with a 5.868s @ 364.6kph for the first win of the night.

Michael Brooks (Nitro Mayhem) v Kyle Putland (Under Pressure) [WIN]
Putland had shutoff early in the run for data collection, but still runs 6.84 @ 284kph, Michael Brooks suffered a huge blower pop just after half track, disintegrating the Littlefield supercharger and ending his night…”Nitro Mayhem” continues to struggle in Nitro Max.

Andrew Katavatis (The Beach Bomb) [WIN] v Brodie Pilkington (Dark Knight)
Pilkington got away earlier with a Reaction time advantage (0.082s RT) until Katavatis started piling on the speed, thundering past Pilko before the half track marker,  putting a couple of cylinders out and rolling across the finish line to win a close race with a 5.627 @ 375.6kph over Pilkington with a 5.732 @ 408.6kph – a winning margin of 0.079s.

Round 2
Andrew Katavatis (The Beach Bomb) [WIN] v Kyle Putland (Under Pressure)
Putland picked up on a clutch issue while reversing, didn’t want to risk the car so shut it off, leaving Katavatis on a solo pass to be the only 2-time winner heading into finals. A lucky break for the team, as the car broke traction after the launch, spinning the tires and over-revving the engine past 10,000rpm, requiring a leak-down test and replacing all the connecting rod bolts in the bottom end before the A final.

PHOTO: Dark Knight v Nitro Thunder with the candles lit! – Shane Lawrie / Turn 7 Media

Brodie Pilkington (Dark Knight) [WIN] v Matt Abel (Nitro Thunder)
No Prisoners in this one, while Abel had trouble keeping the car stuck to the track, pedalling “Nitro Thunder” to the other end in 7.958s. Pilkington shot down the track with an impressive 5.693 @ 412kph to lock himself into the A final, holding the best Round 2 E.T of the field.

Anthony Begley (Chucky’s Toy) [WIN] v  Michael Brooks (Nitro Mayhem)
The demise of Michael Brooks’ supercharger meant that Anthony Begley was all alone on the start line for Round 2, but Begley was as determined as ever to put on a show with this wild Fuel Altered “Chucky’s Toy”.  He managed a decent pass, but it wasn’t enough to steal the A-Final appearance from his reserve driver Brodie Pilkington.

Final Round
C Final: Kyle Putland (Under Pressure) v BYE
For one final hit at the track for the night, the Putland team threw everything at the Worx Equipment Outlaw Fuel Dragster, putting on a spectacle for the fans with incredibly strong header flames out to the half track mark, before shutting down and rolling through for a 6.551 @ 245.4kph pass.

B Final: Anthony Begley (Chucky’s Toy) v Matt Abel (Nitro Thunder) [WIN]
A pedal fest! between a Fuel altered and a Funny Car of all things, Neither driver could hold the cars down as the unpredictability of Nitro came out to play, Abel got there in the end over Begley in 6.766s @ 248.59kph to grab 3rd for Nitro Max Round 2.

A Final: Andrew Katavatis (The Beach Bomb) [WIN] v Brodie Pilkington (Dark Knight)
“An anti-climatic affair” would be the best way to describe the run itself. As both drivers had already faced off in a close race earlier in the night, the A Final was anticipated to be a thriller. But as the cars reached full stage, Pilkington poked the throttle and pushed “Dark Knight” through the beams early. Disqualifying him from the run and handing the win to Andrew Katavatis and “The Beach Bomb” in an incredible turn of events, the race was over before it began!

“…the driver being dumb, that was all on me…” – Brodie Pilkington (Dark Knight)

“It’s not how we want to do it, but we will take the win when we can!…we’ve got some new components on the way, and we will come back in a couple of months to do it again” – Andrew Katavatis (The Beach Bomb)

Nitro Max returns to Perth Motorplex for the final round of the series on Saturday, March 26, with the potential of even more cars to join the field, we cannot wait for the next installment of some Nitro!



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