Darwin ready for rocking race day

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With qualifying for Nitro Up North now complete, the stage has been set for what is sure to be an epic race day at the Hidden Valley Drag Strip tomorrow to conclude the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship and kick off the 2022/2023 ADRC title chases.

At the close of two hot and humid qualifying sessions, Phil Read (Top Fuel), John Zappia (Top Doorslammer) and Robert Cassar (Top Fuel Motorcycle) have topped the qualifying sheets and will lead their respective fields into racing.

Phil Read was quick to praise the track crew for their preparation of the racing surface this evening.

“The track is prepped really great, it is killer! And that is what caught out pretty much every team in the last run, it was a lot better than we were thinking it would be,” Read said.

“We shook our tyres, but we were low ET for both rounds and we are off to a good start for the weekend with the Top Qualifier spot.

“We will finesse things overnight, and I think we are in a good position to play spoiler for the championship tomorrow,” he added, referring to the fact that Peter Xiberras and Phil Lamattina are separated by just 10 points in the title chase, meaning the title will come down to whoever progresses further on race day.

“For Hydraulink, Valvoline, McDonalds and our new sponsor www.screwfast.com.au as well all our fans, hopefully we can do well tomorrow!”

John Zappia had a dramatic second qualifier, but it wasn’t enough to stop him taking out the top spot.

“For round one we backed it off a little bit as we thought the track wouldn’t be as good as where we had come from, and it went 5.87 and went straight down – it did get a bit skatey down the top end but not too bad, and I managed to keep it in the lane,” Zappia explained.

“In the second round we put a similar tune up in it to what we ran at Willowbank but as I came up into stage I went to put my foot flat and my finger must have slipped off the transbrake and so the car just drove off, it red lit and wheelstanded and so I pedalled it and made a run out of it and the crowd loved it, but it wasn’t great for us!

“I mustn’t have pressed down the transbrake hard enough or something, we have to have a look at the data and work out what I did wrong. We are still coming to grips with the auto deal and the different staging routine, but we will get there.

“The Dananni Hot Shots/Tony’s Auto Wrecking Monaro has plenty of power and plenty of traction, so we are looking forward to racing tomorrow.”

Robert Cassar undertook many, many hours of driving to be in Darwin this weekend, and is hoping to have some extra company for the drive back home.

“It was a long drive, but so far it has been worth it!” he grinned.

“It took 3,800 kilometres in the car to get here, getting out of the cold weather to come up here where it is hot and muggy. We are here to have some fun, and so far, we are having fun with top qualifying.

“The bike is a bit down on power, we are having some power issues in first gear. But I am confident we should go 7.00 tomorrow, maybe 6.99 if the weather can come around.

“The aim of course is to win – I want to go home with the trophy on the passenger seat to keep me company for the 3,800-kilometre trip home!” he laughed, while thanking his sponsors including Ballistic Performance Parts, PowerPlus, Denso, Force Wear, Cabinet Works, Andrew’s Automotive and Lucas Oils for their support.

Three rounds of racing will be held Saturday evening in Darwin, kicking off from 5.20pm (round one), 7.25pm (round two) and 9.43pm (finals) – all times local.

All of Saturday night’s action will be broadcast from 5:00pm ACST (5:30pm AEST) on Fox 507, Kayo, 7+ and Sky NZ.

For further information, visit www.topfuelaustralia.com.au or www.hiddenvalleydrags.com.au

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