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Day two of the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Champs more than delivered on its history-making promise today at Sydney Dragway, with plenty more nitro double action still to come on Sunday under beautiful blue skies.

Saturday’s high-speed and high-flying action delighted race fans across a full day of Top Fuel racing and XPRO Nitro Funny Car, Top Doorslammer, FuelTech Pro Mod and Pro Stock qualifying alongside the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship and a special aerial aerobatics display by Red Bull Air Race Champion Matt Hall.

In Top Fuel, Peter Xiberras raced to the A-Final victory to be the fifth different winner in as many rounds with an eye-watering 515kph run, highlighting the fierce competition indicative of Top Fuel racing. With no qualifying on the schedule, Friday’s test were the only runs the Top Fuel racers had before jumping straight into Saturday’s three rounds of racing today, making today’s performances all the more impressive.

The day began with defending champ Damien Harris wasting no time in reminding fans and fellow racers why he’s the quickest and fastest Top Fuel racer in Australia. Harris set down one of seven 500 kph+ Top Fuel runs of the day with a blistering 3.769s/524kph effort in a side-by-side pass over Peter Xiberras (3.828s/510.11kph) in the second pairing. However, this was just the beginning of the story for Xiberras, who turned his fortunes around in round two with a win over Phil Read, paving the way for his A-Final appearance and the chance at redemption against Harris.

The pressure was on for Xiberras in the A Final, but the PremiAir Nulon Hire racer was not one to crack in the heat of the moment, he raced his way to the Gold Christmas Tree with 3.823 second, 515.92kph run over Harris (4.101/467.72kph) – his third three-second pass of the day.

The B-Final was a battle of the two Phils, with Lamattina and Read lining up for the Silver Christmas Tree. Both racers had struck trouble in earlier rounds, with a blown supercharger on the Fuchs LTFR dragster putting an early end to Lamattina’s otherwise strong solo run in the second round, after the last-event winner had been earlier devastated by a red-light on a storming 3.796 pass in his first race of the day. The Hydraulink Jim Read Racing dragster of Phil Read meanwhile had battled engine issues all day, blowing a head gasket in round two. While both racers struck trouble in the B-Final, ultimately, it would be Read who would come out on top despite no time being recorded, while Lamattina went nowhere off the startline.

Wayne Newby made a spectacular comeback in the C-Final after missing round two due to a broken crank in the Rapisarda Autosport International dragster in round one. Newby set down a 3.788 second 515.92kph run against Shane Olive, who also impressed with a 3.903 second 452.9kph run, one of seven three-second runs across all of Saturday’s action.

“This is bloody awesome! And a bit of a monkey off my back,” Xiberras enthused after the winning run.

“This thing is a bracket car – it doesn’t matter what we do to it, it seems to hover around that three-eighty-two, three-eighty-three marker.

“I just can’t thank my team enough, and I have to give a big shout out to my beautiful wife for all the support I get doing this.

“To come home with a win, this is for them, and this is what keeps us all smiling when we are putting this thing together at 2.00am in the morning to go racing at 11.00am.

“Words are escaping me a bit at the moment, but I can tell you, this is absolutely bloody awesome!”

Nitro Funny Car history was made Saturday morning with Brendan Gosbell recording the first – and only for the day – 1000ft Nitro Funny Car 3-second pass. The Sydney local set the tone for the remainder of the qualifying sessions with the 3.971second at 516.55kph pass in the first qualifying session of the day, more than enough to claim the Top Qualifier position heading into Sunday’s three rounds of racing.

Heading into Sunday’s racing, Gosbell leads the way over Justin Walshe, with the Queenslander finding himself just shy of cracking the 3-second mark with a 4.097 second 507.16 kph run, while Adam Murrihy rounded out the top three (4.179/500.58kph). Nitro Funny Car debutante Josh Leahy put in an impressive performance qualifying fourth (4.494/319.16) ahead of Morice McMillin (4.992/248.77) and Anthony Begley (5.830/195.34) in fifth and six, respectively.

“I am very happy, I feel like we have turned a corner with the program, and we are now hoping for some more consistent passes on race day, as that is where we seem to have been ‘snake bit’ lately,” Gosbell said.

“(Being the only racer in the threes) does help our confidence, we have data that proves the car can do it, and that puts us a pass in front of everyone else and now we will just try and go out there and do it again!

“The event so far has been great; the atmosphere has been second to none. It has definitely been the best vibe I have seen at a drag strip in a long time!”

In Top Doorslammer, 11-time champ John Zappia top qualified ahead of breakout rookie Russell Taylor following the completion of three qualifying rounds. Taylor led the way early in round one with a 5.678/413.74kph run over John Zappia, who was unable to record a time due to a broken blower belt. But it would be John Zappia in the second qualifying round, driving his Holden Monaro from the wall to the centre and back again to claim the Top Qualifier position with a 5.651/411.31kph run, demoting Russell to second ahead of Ronnie Palumbo in third (5.681/402.93kph) and Daniel Gregorini in fourth (5.706/407.06kph).

Lisa Gregorini was another to come back in spectacular fashion to qualify in fifth place and set a personal best ET 5.727 second 404.57kph run in the third round of qualifying after being unable to run in round two. The Scratch and Match Motorsport Camaro had to be pushed back to the start box after her burnout and was unable to get going again but found redemption in the final qualifier.

“It is really good – the Dananni Hot Shots Fuchs Lubricants Monaro ran really well in the second qualifier,” Top Qualifier Zappia said.

“In the first qualifier, we did a .007 light and then the blower belt came straight off, so we came back and put an old blower belt on – one we knew worked okay – and came out for that second qualifier.

“The car launched hard and went right with the front wheels in the air, it was heading to the wall, then the front end came down and I got away from the wall but it was a bit radical – it went right over to the centre line and then I turned right and did a big ‘S’ shape and used up every bit of the lane!

“As we got to the finish line I felt the motor vibrate so I knew something had let go – we had hurt the engine, so we have swapped that out and we sat out the third qualifier and thankfully we were able to hold on to the top.

“We now have the B Motor in and are getting ready for racing tomorrow.”

In Pro Mod, Zoran Gajic ran closest to the 5.85-second index with a 5.861 second 412.87kph run in Q1, securing his Top Qualifier position going into Sunday’s full day of racing. The ‘67 Ford Mustang of Joe Gauci wasn’t far behind with a 5.961 second 335.69kph on a solo run in Q2.

Neil Murphy also set his best pass in Q2 (6.054/394.36kph) which was good enough to secure third for tomorrow’s racing over Robert Campsi (8.283/189.27kph). Greg Tsakiridis was fourth quickest with a 6.148 second 346.94kph run in Q3 over Peter Gratz (6.933/251). John Ricca had a wild Q1 when his Ford Mustang cross the centre line in spectacular fashion during his 6.161s/310.31kph run against Craig Burns (6.171s/305.9kph).

“I am very pleased, very happy,” Gajic said.

“We went out on the first one and went 5.861 which was pretty impressive, the index is 5.85.

“In the second one we left it alone but the track went away from us a bit so I had to give it a bit of a pedal and went 6.0.

“In Q3 we took a bit out of it and went 5.94 and I was pretty happy with that!

“The track was as good as it could be in the cold conditions, Sydney Dragway always does a great job for us, and there should be a bit of heat back tomorrow with a couple of extra degrees, so hopefully it should be a good event tomorrow.

“We are straight into racing, and we are good to go! Thank you to NDRC for putting on the event, to all of my crew that helps us, our sponsors, and to my family for letting me get out of the house,” he grinned.

Pro Stock also ran two qualifying sessions today, with Robert Dekert (6.899/319.68) leading the way ahead of Aaron Tremayne (6.924/318.79), Chris Soldatos (6.928/319.48), Tyronne Tremayne (6.943/319.21), and Rick Chilton (6.977/314.64) at the close of Sunday’s racing.

The high-speed action wasn’t just confined to drag racing either, with a spectacular aerobatics display delighting fans and racers alike. Pulling up to 12Gs throughout the 10-minute show, complete with flat spins, inversions and hovering the plane just like a helicopter, Matt Hall demonstrated why he’s the current Red Bull Air Race Champion.

The Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship was also back on track for a full day of on-track action, which saw Friday’s held over Extreme Bike final completed in the morning ahead of qualifying for the second round of the championship to be held this weekend.

At the end of today’s proceedings, the following racers had claimed the ‘round two’ Top Qualifying honours for their respective brackets: Nathan McKenna (Super Street), Dale Hartill-Law (Super Sedan), Luke Romeo (Super Gas), Daniel Carranza (Modified), Brianna Boskovich (Junior Dragster), Leonard Azzopardi (Extreme Bike), Davydd Estcourt (Supercharged Outlaws) and Dean Jamieson (Modified Bike). SuperComp, Performance Bike and Top Sportsman will complete their qualifying Sunday morning.

In Super Gas, Luke Romeo went to the final against his dad, Roy, in Friday’s round of the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship, coming home as the runner-up. Now, he heads into the second round of racing on Sunday as the Top Qualifier.

“It feels very good to be top qualifier today – the car is very good, everything is working in harmony at the moment,” Romeo said.

“Without all my team I wouldn’t be where I am, and I just can’t wait to race tomorrow.

“Last night it was a little bit heartbreaking for me at the finish line but it was a very special final for the whole family and the whole team. We were so stoked to get where we were and it was very special to us, and it was great to take home two trees – hopefully we can add some more tomorrow!

“It has been a very good event so far, Andy Lopez has done a really good job setting everything up and everyone is having a great time, I sure am having a great time!”

In Modified Daniel ‘BatDan’ Carranza was a very happy camper after securing his second Top Qualifier honours for the weekend after having earlier top qualified on Friday.

“I am pretty happy with how we went – hopefully we can dial the car in right for tomorrow’s racing and we can go from there,” Carranza said.

“It has been a much different day today compared to yesterday with the conditions, but we made it work.

“The atmosphere from the crowd here is unreal, it has been great to see the fans come out.

“This is one of my favourite events that I look forward to every year. Here is hoping we can give it a crack and go some rounds tomorrow.”

In Extreme Bike, Leonard Azzopardi took the Friday final win with a 7.363 second pass over runner-up Ryan Franks’ 7.858 second effort. Azzopardi also claimed the Top Qualifying honours both on Friday and Saturday.

“It was a challenging (first round of racing) and I think I was a bit luckier with maybe a bit better set-up and a bit more experience and I was able to get the bike down the track and get the win with a bit of luck,” Azzopardi said.

“I would like to thank my crew, my daughter Bianca and my wife Deanne – without them I would line up in the wrong spot and spin all the way down the track! They know the drill, they have all the experience as we have been doing it together for so long.

“I would also like to thank all the track officials and the volunteers for all their hard work over three huge days, we all really appreciate them. And thanks to NDRDC as well for having us, it is always a pleasure.

“I left a lot on the table with driver error for today’s qualifier, that easily should have been into the sixes as the track was perfect – I was lucky I didn’t get the sack from riding the bike,” he laughed.

“Heading into tomorrow’s racing I am pretty excited and hopefully it all goes smoothly, and we can get a good run, and hopefully a PB. A win would be good too, but I am not greedy, I am just happy to be out there racing!”

The third and final day of history making Gulf Western Oil Nitro Champs action kicks off Sunday morning with racing for Top Fuel, XPRO Nitro Funny Car, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock, FuelTech Pro Mod and the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship, while Matt Hall will also return to impress with more aerial acrobatics. Head to the NDRC Facebook page for an updated schedule.

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