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The penultimate round of the Burson Auto Part Australian Top Fuel Championship and Australian Drag Racing Championship for Top Doorslammer and Top Fuel Motorcycle is on this weekend at Sydney Dragway’s Gulf Western Oil Nitro Champs. With just the Grand Final to go after this event in Darwin, it is make or break for the championship contenders this weekend to stay in the hunt.

Top Fuel has seen a dramatic turn around in results, the first half of the season saw Damien Harris streak away from the field in the points with the Atlantic Oils/Rapisarda Autosport International dragster. But the unpredictable nature of Top Fuel racing has seen his championship lead cut to just 30 points after out of character miss-steps in the last two events, and some barnstorming performances from Jim Read Racing’s Phil Read and Peter Xiberras of PremiAir Racing.

Read and Xiberras have featured in the last two A-Finals, the defending champ Xiberras grabbing the points in Sydney at Top Fuel Slam and Read with an emotional return to Perth at the Westernationals.

Weather conditions are looking perfect for record runs.

“The weather conditions will be ideal for horsepower, but will also see our tuning window narrow,” said defending champion Xiberras. “We will need a good result to stay in the hunt for our third straight championship, so hopefully we can unlock a new level of performance and lay down some more of the record-breaking runs we have been known for in Sydney.

“If we can do that, hopefully we can take home a good result and close the title fight gap right up ahead of the final round in June.”

Jim Read Racing’s crew chief, Bruce Read, just returned from a trip to America where he worked with Jim Oberhoffer and Clay Millican, and he is equally pumped for the championship fight that presents itself.

“We will certainly be doing all we can to take the fight up to Damian while keeping an eye over our shoulder on Peter,” said Bruce Read. “Things are either going to be decided or made a hell of a lot more interesting this weekend, and hopefully we can make sure we are in the best place possible to challenge for the title in Darwin.”

It is an absolutely cracking field of Top Fuel dragsters in the line up. The Atlantic Oils/RAI team will be in force with Wayne Newby, though still chasing his first win of the season, the Santino Rapisarda tuned dragster has begun to find hot pace again. Larry Dixon will once again make the trip over from the U.S to pilot the third RAI car, Dixon won the B-Final in Sydney back in January and will be keen to take home an Australian winner’s trophy. It was planned for RAI to field an amazing fourth entry, but slated driver Tommy Johnson Jr unfortunately had to withdraw from the trip over.

The Lamattina Top Fuel Racing team have made no secrets about their struggle this season, and are more than fired up to show what they are capable of. With a runner-up at the Goldenstate’s the highlight of the season for Phil Lamattina, consistency has been missing as the team play with new set ups, but on the back of a 4.83 last week in testing, and the return of Aaron Hambridge as crew chief, the awesome Sydney track surface may be what they need.

Rounding out the field will be Kyle Putland, making his first trip over East with his Top Fuel Dragster, the rookie from Perth has been improving with each outing, and have made the big commitment to travel and support the last two rounds of the championship.

Top Doorslammer is an exciting race in three, Kelvin Lyle has what looks like comfortable points lead, but like we saw in Top Fuel, it can turn quickly – Lyle sits 82 points clear of John Zappia with Daniel Gregorini 14 more points arrears. Zappia dropped some quick 5.6 second performances recently in Perth, scarily with just his B-motor, and with the air conditions that will be on offer this weekend at Sydney, new records are a very real possibility. It’s an outstanding performance for Gregorini to still be in the championship conversation after missing a round earlier in the season, the West Aussie wrapped a win at the Westernationals – his second of the season – to give the Scratch & Match team championship hope.

The will be 10 Top Doorslammers on the premises with Matt Abel also making the trip over from the West. In a monumental effort, Abel had to rebuild his 57 Chev after a devastating roll over accident at the last round of the championship in the Perth Motorplex sand trap. Lisa Gregorini will be competing for the first time in anger outside her home state of Perth, Lisa successfully contested her first event at the Westernationals round, and took a few names before losing to Peter Kapiris in the B-Final. Kapiris will also be back at Sydney after his recent return to the sport as their performances creep back up. Paul Cannuli has entered his Mustang which has a championship and record-setting pedigree with Moits Racing, he will be joined by locals Craig Hewitt, Craig Burns and the ever consistent Geoff Gradden.

In Top Fuel Bike there is a great field of 8 bikes ready for two-wheel warfare. Rob Cassar is still plugging away at the top of the championship with his nitrous Suzuki on the back of consistency, despite some mechanical mayhem at the last round. Cassar holds a nearly 80 point lead over Benny Stevens who has been tearing it up with monster performances on his nitro-burning Harley recently, culminating in an event win at the Westernationals. The competition though will be fierce though with Chris Matheson and John Zahra both in the field, their potential five-second bikes are not in the championship hunt but will be the favourites to win if they can get the horsepower to stick. Adam Layton is making his first appearance for some time aboard his Harley, promising big things, and will be one to watch. Up from Victoria, Damien Martini will have his nitro-burning four cylinder back out with the potential to run with Matheson and Zahara, when the bike setup is fully developed. The field will also consist of Aaron Deery aboard the second of the Benny Steven’s bike and Leonard Azzopardi on a customer’s turbo Suzuki funny bike that he has built.

The champion program will be backed up with strong fields in Pro Stock, Pro Mod, a Top Alcohol exhibition and all the tough racing from sportsman racers for round four of the NSW Championship Series.

The Gulf Western Oil Nitro Champs 5 & 6 May 2023
Friday 5th May
Spectator Gate Opens: 7:00am
Racing starts from 10am

Saturday 6th May
Spectator Gate Opens: 7:00am
Racing starts from 8.45am 

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