After several seasons spent racing in the NHRA, Rapisarda Autosport International (RAI) say they are turning their focus back to the ANDRA Drag Racing Series for the coming season.
Commencing with this weekend’s season opener in Perth, RAI said they have committed to running a two car team for the entire season with Western Australian drivers Allan Dobson and Damien Harris behind the wheel.
Santo Rapisarda Jnr, who will be swinging the spanners on Harris’s dragster, explained the decision.
“This year we have decided to focus on racing in Australia,” he said. “We sat down as a team and decided that this was the most feasible option and our performances in Sydney at the Nationals at the end of last season made the decision a whole lot easier to make.”
Dobson will be behind the wheel of the record holding car driven by Tommy Johnson Jnr while Harris will continue to steer the same car he drove last season.
With hot conditions forecast for the season opener, including a scorching 43 degrees celsius top on Saturday, RAI are planning to put to use the data they gathered at the Australian Nationals in November where conditions were also hostile.
Santino Rapisarda, taking on tuning duties for Dobson, said the team were able to put together nine full passes out of 12 attempts at that event and will take advantage of that knowledge.
“We’re not heading west to make up the numbers,” he said. “We’re here to start our championship assault and to put some stellar runs on the board.
“Not only do we bring to the table a hot weather tune-up for the event, but we bring several seasons of experience from being on the NHRA tour. We believe that this gives us an advantage over the rest of the competition.”
The team has kept busy in the short off season by moving workshops in Sydney, just off the famed Huntingwood Drive near Rocket Industries.
“The new workshop is double the size of what we had before, so it’s brilliant for us. It’s our intended long term home for our Australian Top Fuel racing efforts,” Santo Jnr said.
The two Rapisarda cars will be taking on Phil Lamattina, who tested well on Wednesday, Mark Sheehan with US crew chief John Smith and returning champion Martin Stamatis.