Steven Ham has put himself back in the title fight for the Australian Top Alcohol Championship by winning round six at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Dragstrip last weekend.
The Brisbane based Mobil 1 Funny Car racer entered the event in third for the series, but a toe to toe battle with series leader Gary Phillips.
“Gary started the weekend with 5.46 out of nowhere and sounded a challenge to everyone else who struggled to get down the track on the first qualifier. But with our team, we focused and found a way to get down in the second qualifier thankfully. Everyone from James calling the shots to my mum supplying the food, we just really locked in and had a great sync happening the whole weekend, so the win over Gary was a great reward,” Ham said.
Ham’s 5.57 run in the second round of qualifying and an identical result in the third set the Mobil1 Funny Car into the second spot on the qualifying ladder, with a first-round elimination locked in against Debbie O’Rourke.
Both cars went up in smoke on the hit of the throttle, with Ham recovering marginally quicker to salvage a win, before matching up with Winternationals winner, Jon Sting in the semi final to win by five hundredths of a second over Sting’s 5.60 second pass.
An elbow to elbow crowd stayed right to the end to witness the battle royal between Ham and former mentor Phillips, with the 17 time national champion tipped to repeat his earlier 5.4 second range elapsed time to have the upper hand. However Ham’s 5.567 at 420.86 kph (261.52 mph) edged out Phillips’ 5.681 at 419.16 kph (260.46 mph).
“I like it when we have these events when our luck matched our skill. We didn’t fluke the win, but we certainly had a few things go our way to get to the final. That’s a good balance and if we can maintain that for the next round in Sydney, we will really give this title a shake.
Ham’s win elevated his points standing to within 61 points of Phillips who is eying off his 18th national title and 17th in Top Alcohol
“You know if you beat Gary, Debbie and Cheyne, you’re beating one of the best in the world, and we’re keeping him within reach now. For us to catch him at Sydney, he would have to go out in the first round and us go all the way, which sounds unlikely when you see the form he has at the moment, but this is an unpredictable sport in every way and we just have to be ready to capitalize at every angle.”
The Mobil 1 team have slated some intense testing at Sydney prior to the Nationals in the first weekend in November, believing there’s some ideas amongst the team that could gain a much needed edge.