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Lamattina Top Fuel Racing won’t be deterred from finishing this year’s NDRC Australian Top Fuel Championship strongly despite a problematic clutch issue at the Nitro Champs dealing a heavy blow to the team’s championship aspirations.

LTFR had been on a roll heading into the Nitro Champs, with Phil Lamattina riding a wave of team improvement culminating in an emotional win at the previous event. Now, with two championship rounds at stake at the Nitro Champs, it was a critical juncture in the title race where Lamattina had surged to second in the standings.

On Saturday Lamattina was presented with an ideal opportunity to close in on championship leader Wayne Newby after drawing to race the Rapisarda Autosport International driver in round one. The FUCHS Lubricants dragster performed flawlessly for a 3.79 to hit the finish stripe first, but a narrow -.015 red light on the tree left Lamattina devastated for the team.

Regrouping for round two Lamattina was to face Newby again, however the team was a no-show and Lamattina was left with a solo that progressed the team into the B-Final against Phil Read where the FUCHS dragster inexplicably smoked the tyres on the hit of the throttle. It was a disappointing result put down to the rapidly cooling track conditions at the time.

Returning to the track on Sunday, and the second of the championship rounds for the event, the weather was far more conducive to racing. Paired once again against Newby for round one, Lamattina’s hopes for a win were once against struck down with instance tyre smoke, an occurrence that repeated in round two.

The mystifying clutch issue was determined to be a new clutch disc that had been introduced into the clutch pack that seemingly had worked perfectly earlier in the event. With the team addressing the issue, the FUCHS Dragster went down track in the C Final for a 3.89 to close out a challenging weekend.

“While the recent event was a challenging one for us, with clutch issues throwing a wrench in our plans and impacting our championship aspirations, we’re still making progress as a team and remain optimistic,” Lamattina reflected.

“We know we have a race car capable of winning when everything comes together. We’re eager to take on the new surface at Willowbank in a few weeks and see what we’re truly capable of.”

Lamattina now sits third in the championship going into the season-ending Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway, and a large amount of good fortune with results will be needed to go LTFR’s way to be a chance of a fifth title. Willowbank’s new racing surface presents an unknown challenge, but the LTFR team is ready to adapt and push hard for a win, fuelled by their determination and partnership with FUCHS Lubricants and R&J Batteries.

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