Major league drag racing in Australia last weekend featured a dramatic one day event at Willowbank Raceway…..

For event result reporting from the 400 Thunder Top Fuel Championships event visit our media partner site Drag News (Australia) : HERE

Pro Slammer winner – John Zappia

The marquee race also included a truly significant 3-car Top Fuel event effort from Australian drag racing magnate Rapisarda Autosport International – which is posted below:

American speedster Ashley Sanford was the best performed member of the three car RAI assault in second round of the 400 Thunder championship at Willowbank Raceway.

The 23 year old Californian finished runner up to Sydney sider Peter Xiberras in the final of Top Fuel while team mate Damien Harris smashed the Oz record for 1000 racing in a thrilling battle with Wayne Newby for third and fourth place.

“Congratulations to Peter and his team on their first win in Top Fuel,” said fellow Team owner Santo Rapisarda. “On the day they had the best package and did well in taming the hot and humid conditions. They have been knocking on the door in recent times and it ‘s a good thing for the category to have a different winner.”

With only five starters the event was run under a variation of the Chicago shoot out format. All cars made two runs with the top two in the points facing off in the final round and next two racing for third and fourth places.

In round one Sanford outpaced Newby who shook the tyres while Harris, the series points leader had the bye run.
Sanford outran Harris in round two despite popping the chute early to book her passage to the final and Newby’s hopes of an making the trophy round ended after encountering tyre shake just beyond the Christmas Tree.

Sanford chasing her first ever win in the elite category snapped a .07 sec reaction time looked set to take the win until Xiberras clawed his way to the front and take the win.

“I can’t be unhappy with todays result,” said Sanford. “I’ve raced four rounds in Top Fuel, had two wins and been in my first final. Every time I drive a Fuel car I’m on a learning curve. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Thank you Santo and all the Rapisarda family for the opportunity and to race in Australia.”

Ashley Sanford

“We were chasing our tail all weekend,” explained Santo Junior, tuner of the Damien Harris car. “We had some issues with the fuel system and on the last run the car did what it was supposed to do, a 3.87 at 315 mph was a good way to finish the day.”

We made a lot of progress over the day working on the six disc clutch in the car said Santino Rapisarda tuner on the Newby car. The final run, a 3.95 at 308 mph was very encouraging. Once we get thru the ‘teething stage’ the value of running the six disc will really pay dividends.

Posted with files by John Doig and Bruce Biegler

Photos by John Doig (RAI) and Bruce Biegler (Zappia)