TOP FUEL BRINGS THE SPECTACLE TO SATURDAY QUALIFYING
11 June 2016
With a grandstand packed to the brim with Australian drag racing fanatics, fans were treated to history in the making as they bore witness to the quickest ever side-by-side Top Fueler pass during only the second Qualifying Session for the Fuelers.
Darren Morgan led five of the six Top Fuelers entered in the event in to the second session, proving that the track was very much there and that his team had their finger on the pulse with a solo 4.65sec at 320mph, with the team visibly excited by the performance.
Morgan’s exhibition was backed up by an all-Rapisarda Racing second race, where International gun-for-hire Larry Dixon met New South Wales pilot Wayne Newby. The crowds definitely got their money’s worth – Dixon bested Newby with a 4.54sec at 329mph; however Newby’s 4.55sec at 314mph pass was nothing to sneeze at.
The pass becomes the quickest side-by-side pass in Top Fueler in Australia; history in the making at the 2016 City of Ipswich Winternationals.
The 4.54sec had Dixon heading in the third session as Top Qualifier, and while damage to the front spoiler threatened to put an end to Dixon’s Saturday, the team returned in Q3 sporting a PremiAir Hire front spoiler, loaned to the team by competitor Peter Xiberras.
“I want to thank Peter for giving us one of his spare wings for the car,” said Santo Rapisarda. “We’re all fierce competitors on the track and there is a great sense of sportsmanship between the teams in the pits, as shown by Peter’s generous and king gesture.”
The sixth car in the field, Xiberras Fueler suffered a mystery explosion in the pits during what was supposed to be a routine fire-up in front of a crowd of spectators. The team missed Q2 as a result, and thrashed furiously to make it back out for the afternoon’s Q3 session, however were noticeable in their absence.
Q3’s diminished field saw Morgan and Dixon the only racers to get full passes in. Morgan and his team continued to flaunt their knowledge of the car and the Willowbank track, bettering their Q2 run with a 4.63sec at 331.04mp, briefly claiming the Willowbank Top Fuel Speed Record and knocking on the door of the National Speed Record.
Dixon couldn’t find the pace from his second qualifier, but wasn’t far from the mark with a 4.59sec at 331.77mph. The Trap Speed was enough to nab Morgan’s newly-crowned Track Speed record (formerly held by Phil Lammatina), and edges ever closer to besting the Australian National Speed record currently held in-house by the Rapisarda crew.
“I last raced at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona in November,” explained Dixon. “It felt like home and it was felt to get behind the wheel again. I want to thank the Rapisarda family for the opportunity to race in Australia again. Any car that Lee Beard gives you is always a work of art; ideal from a comfort and driveability point of view. That’s why he’s a championship-winning tuner and Crew Chief.”
Crew Chief for Dixon, Lee Beard, went on to say “We had plenty of power but the track is tight and it requires a little more clutch than you may think, and we didn’t feed enough power between the 60-foot to half-track.” With three qualifying sessions up their sleeves, Dixon’s team heads in to Sunday’s competition as Top Qualifier and will be hungry to enjoy the same record-smashing success he did last time he raced at Willowbank.
The Kings of the Quarter Mile return to the track for the finals of the Australian Drag Racing season, Sunday 12th June, 2016. See these 10,000hp heavy-hitters live and in person from 8am, or if you can’t make it to the track watch six of the country’s best duke it out on the 400 Thunder Live Stream: http://400thunder.5stream.com/content.php?id=12620
For more information about the 2016 City of Ipswich Winternationals including Sunday’s racing visit www.willowbankraceway.com.au