Pre-season testing hots up

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The ANDRA Drag Racing Series will see a new team entering the fray in Top Fuel this season with Peter Xiberras’s Sydney-based PremiAir outfit to make its debut with Luke Shepherd doing the driving duties.

Shepherd said that the team wants to contest all the rounds if possible, with only the opening round in Adelaide currently in doubt as the team waits for some final parts for their arsenal to arrive.

“Adelaide is only a timing issue and it might be just a week before that we make the decision,” he said. “Trucks and trailers are being refurbished at the moment and Peter is wholeheartedly committed to Top Fuel.”

Xiberras has his own Supercharged Outlaws dragster and is the managing director of PremiAir Hire. Shepherd said Xiberras wanted to emulate the professionalism of his business within the race team.

“It is an extension of his business and he wants to make it something where he can bring corporate people and display his own brand,” Shepherd explained. “Peter’s company is as successful as it is because he is about professionalism and the whole race team will be just as good. He is very serious about getting it right.”

The consistency shown by teams such as the Best Tractor Parts dragster of Damien Harris is what Shepherd hopes the new team will be able to achieve.

“We are not looking for 4.50sec times straight up, if we can get into the 4.8sec area or something and have consistency then that will get us through a few rounds,” he said. “Damien Harris showed how doing that can get you into the championship hunt. For now it is just four second passes we are after; if you can run that on race day you are in with just as good of a shot.”

The team went testing at Sydney Dragway over the weekend and finished in fiery fashion, with a breather line coming off the motor and lighting up a lot of oil. Despite the fireball Shepherd said the team was ready to go for another run until the event was cancelled due to unsafe track conditions in the cold weather.

“It looked a lot worse than it actually was,” Shepherd said. “I saw the flash in the cockpit and got off the throttle. We had a small amount of cylinder head damage but if it wasn’t for the breather then it would have kept going and we had good incremental times.”

The testing program will continue into next season as the new team aims to blood its crew and make sure their infrastructure is up to scratch.

“Saturday didn’t go according to plan but it was another opportunity to get the car out there and teach the crew how to turn the car around in two hours,” Shepherd said. “It’s a matter of us making sure that the boys have got the tools they need and the parts they require and hopefully we can be at Adelaide, if not we will start at Sydney with the Australian Nationals.

“It’s another Top Fuel team on the circuit and it’s a team that wants to be doing as much as they can. We want to support the category and we also want to go a couple of rounds along the way.”

The ANDRA Drag Racing Series kicks off at Adelaide International Raceway on October 20.


Photos By Grant Stephens/ & Joe Maday

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