Australian Top Fuel is set for its biggest show in several years, with eight quality dragsters set to take the starters orders at this weekend’s Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder. Of the eight nitro pilots in attendance, five have won at least one championship – meaning that this weekend’s event will be one of the toughest on the tour.
Kelly Bettes enters the event with a trifecta of accomplishments under her belt. She is the reigning 400 Thunder Top Fuel Champion, the defending event winner and also the current points leader.
With a slender 8 point margin over Wayne Newby, Bettes knows that this weekend is pivotal in the title chase. “I’m really looking forward to this event! Last season Nitro Thunder was our third consecutive event win – and with a finals finish in January, we would love to carry that momentum into this weekend,” Bettes said today.
“Conditions look like they will be great so the team will be swinging for some record times too. I think Top Fuel will be a real top-quality show this weekend,” she concluded.
Rapisdarda Autosport International will again field a very strong three car team, including the cars driven by former 400 Thunder Champions Damien Harris and Wayne Newby, and another for US import Ashley Sanford who is enjoying a career best year – currently third in points.
“This is a home race for us and we always like to put on a good showing in front of our friends and family,” said Newby’s Crew Chief Santino Rapisarda. “It’s a challenge running three cars, but when you get to put the smile on dad’s face after you win – it makes all the hard work worth it.”
Multi-time former champ Phil Read is back in the seat this weekend after some promising performances at the last round of the championship in January. A final round finish at Sydney in January saw him leap to the fourth position in the title chase and he is certainly firming as a strong contender at the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder.
Making their first appearances for the 2018-19 season will be Rachelle Splatt, Terry Sainty and Darren Morgan.
Splatt enters the event as the defending event runner up and is looking to build on the performance at her major sponsor’s flagship event. Terry Sainty will also be looking to do Gulf Western Oil proud, after running some very strong numbers at this event last season in the family Top Fuel Dragster.
Four-time Australian Champ Darren Morgan returns to the track this weekend after an 18 month layoff. Morgan returns with his experienced crew led by Crew Chief Ben Patterson, who has spent the last 18 months working both in the United States (with Scott Palmer) and also in Europe, on the European title winning car of Anita Makela.
All the ingredients are included for what could be one of the best weekends of racing for Top Fuel that has been seen for a very long time.
Top Fuel will be on track for two optional test passes this Friday, with all cars racing 3 times on Saturday with the 400 Thunder All Run Format.
Tickets and info are available at www.SydneyDragway.com.au , with tickets also available at the gate.