This article brought to you by:

Hard work and persistence have paid off in turning Lamattina Top Fuel Racing’s season around at Sydney Dragway for the 2023 Nitro Champs. Phil Lamattina was the top qualifier with a new personal best ET and finished runner up in the A-Final. Shane Olive earnt two round win lights, culminating in the C-Final win.

It is no secret LTFR has been struggling with consistent performances this season, and the team has been working diligently and tirelessly ahead of the penultimate round of the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship at Sydney Dragway. This included former long-time crew chief Aaron Hambridge returning to the team, and strong results delivered in testing that lifted the team confidence ahead of the event.

For Lamattina the on-track performance turnaround was instant with the FUCHS Lubricants dragster unleashing the performance the team has been seeking – but had not yet found this season – punching out a 3.770 at 315mph off the trailer in Q1. The elapsed time smashed Lamattina’s previous 3.82 best ever run, and held up as the quickest pass by the end of qualifying.

“We weren’t shocked but obviously when you haven’t run that quick ever, it sort of takes a little bit for it to sink in for everyone. It was a personal best by a whole bunch, so that is great and a really good morale booster for the team,” Lamattina said.

“Obviously we have been struggling a fair bit lately, so we have been working on stuff and we tested the car last Friday and it went well. It really is a testament to the hard work that has been put in by Shane Olive, and also Luke Marsden and all the work he has been putting in before he left. Aaron Hambridge sort of just gave it a few little tweaks and then bang, it is all there.

Lamattina continued the charge in round one of racing defeating 3-time NHRA Champion Larry Dixon with a straight and clean 3.807, then rolled in to the A-Final after defeating Kyle Putland with a 3.85. The A-Final would be another match up against Dixon, and with the weather conditions now a lot colder, the tuning window was very narrow to successfully get 11000 horsepower down the track, yet the team could not take opposition lightly after Dixon ran low ET of the previous round to reach the final.

Unfortunately, the tuning window was missed, and the FUCHS Lubricants dragster smoked the tyres hard on the hit of the throttle, leaving Lamattina no chance to break his 16-year winless hoodoo at Sydney Dragway – despite that disappointment, the positives were far greater. The FUCHS Lubricants dragster team had turned around their fortunes after a season of struggles through their personal best performances, providing great philosophical confidence when they head to Darwin for the final round of the championship.

“Dixon was running pretty fast, so I thought we should make a race of it, but we just overstepped the mark just a little bit,” said Lamattina. “I haven’t got that monkey off my back, but realistically making an A-Final from where we have come from is excellent, and we will fight on for another day.

“It has been good, really promising, the car is running really stout, so I am very happy for the team, for FUCHS, and for Burson – runner up is not that bad.”

For the Burson Auto Parts team, qualifying was rather a struggle for Olive, the defending event champion. The Burson dragster tossed a blower belt in Q1, and on a tricky cold track, smoked the tyres in Q2, to leave Olive qualified in seventh and facing championship points leader Damien Harris in round one.

Olive gave it a shot in the match up against Harris but for engine problems that struck at half-track. As fate would have it, Olive found himself against Harris in round two, and executed a measure of revenge by getting the win light with a 4.01 notwithstanding tossing another belt across the finish line. It was a relieving round win for Olive and the team after a thrash to make the call following a between rounds engine change.

The round win slid Olive into the C-Final that was supposed to be run against Phil Read, however the Jim Read Racing team could not make start line in time after suffering major engine damage in round two. Olive ran the solo for the C-Final win, only to have another engine failure down track causing quite a spectacular flame show. While the result looks good on paper, the mechanical damage has been a headscratcher for the team, chasing a gremlin possibly in the fuel system that is curtailing the car’s performance.

“It’s a shame Phil Read couldn’t make it out for the race, but it’s still not the weekend we wanted,” said Olive. “It has been a tough season for us all round, Phil’s car is turned around and it has shown some good signs in running fast. But this car, I don’t know, we are just missing it somewhere, and I don’t know where it is at the moment. We are positive though we will get this car sorted and turned around for Darwin.”

“Thanks to Burson for sticking by us this season, and to my crew guys, so very proud of them, they put in so much.”

The next round of the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship will be the season grand final at Nitro Up North at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin. The event is part of the Darwin Triple Crown alongside the 2023 Supercars Championship on June 16-18.

Aeroflow Performance Parts Catalogue

Drag News Magazine