Top Bike competitor Chris Matheson is preparing for his return to Willowbank Raceway for next month's Winternationals.
Top Bike competitor Chris Matheson is preparing for his return to Willowbank Raceway for next month's Winternationals. Dave Reid

National record-breaker excited about Winternats return

DRAG RACING: Twelve months ago at the 51st Winternationals Chris Matheson had wrapped up his fifth straight Australian Top Bike Championship.

This left the door wide open to focus on hopefully becoming the first rider in the southern hemisphere to break into the elusive five-second barrier, something he had been chasing for six years.

Flashback to the Santo's Extreme 3 event on March 30, 2013, where Matheson gave a taste of what was to come, setting new national records of 6.04 seconds at 241 mph (388 kph).

Since then Matheson has experienced many highs and lows on his "Nitro Voodoo” machine. Having dominated the class with more 6.0s than any other competitor, he continues to raise the bar in Australian Top Fuel motorcycle performance.

The Sunday conditions at the 2018 Winters looked right for a fast ride. Matheson had been progressively running quicker over the three-day event when this happened.

"On the green the bike took off like a shot, carrying the front wheel until I shut off at the 1250-foot mark,” Matheson said.

Things got wild in the braking area for the "Nitro Voodoo” bike with Matheson hard on the brakes.

At one stage it looked as if he had locked up with smoke coming off the front wheel. It was one of those heart in your mouth moments.

"It felt very strong and the bike was pulling hard all the way, but there was an issue with the timers and I didn't receive any ET or speed,'' Matheson said.

"At the time I didn't know there was an issue until the OVO Livestream camera crew came up to me and told me. At first, I thought they were playing a joke, but sadly it was true.''

The multi-champion is getting ready to do it all again at Willowbank Raceway, during the 52nd running of the Winternationals from June 6-9.

The Winternationals is the largest drag racing event in the southern hemisphere that attracts racers and fans from far and wide. It is also the final event in the 2018/19 400 Thunder championship.

Matheson currently leads the Top Bike championship points chase on the back of a dominating season having made all finals, except a Sydney round due to a back injury.

Despite dropping a round, Matheson, has led the charge clocking lowest ET for the entire season so far with a strong 6.08 recording at Sydney Dragway recently. 

Asked how the season has been so far, Matheson replied: "It's been an odd season where rain and numerous incidents out of our hands took opportunities away from us to win more gold 400 Thunder Christmas tree trophies.

"We have been consistent all year but not been able to run the bike as hard as we could have. The team has worked hard, only to be let down at the finals for one reason or another. 

"We have been working hard on the engine program and it is running better than it has in the short times so we hope to get the opportunity to run as far as possible to the finish stripe to see what the bike can do over the quarter mile.''

2018/19 400 Thunder Top Bike Championship (after Rd 5): Chris Matheson (Qld) 393, Jay Upton (WA) 390, Gavin Spann (Qld) 344, Les Holden (WA) 198, Adam Layton (NSW) 178, Rod Barchet (NSW) 64, Tony Wood (WA) 25, Michael Dwinger (NSW) 25.