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HARRIS LEADS THE PACK AFTER ROUND FIVE OF THE ATFC, WITH NEWBY CLOSING ON THE LEADERS

Rapisarda Autosport international star Damien Harris retains the lead in the 2022-2023 Burson Auto Parts Top Fuel championship after defeating teammate Wayne Newby in the B-final at the Perth Motorplex, March 4-5.


Newby retains fourth place in the title chase behind race-winner Phil Read and runner-up Peter Xiberras.

Day one of the event also doubled as the 52nd Westernats but was plagued with multiple timing problems - for example, Newby Top Qualified with a pass of 3.822 at a speed of 24 mph. Top Fuel Australia officials and the team owners met and decided to continue racing over the 1000-foot distance.


A slow-motion camera was set up and a three-person judgement of fact team was appointed to declare winners with an official positioned on the side of the track with a flag to signal the result. Bonus points for ET and Top Speed, as well as seedings for each round would be decided on times recorded at the eighth-mile mark.

QUALIFYING

RAI went 1-2 in qualifying for the second time this season. Newby snatched the top spot with a 3.822 after an early shutdown and threw a belt ahead of Harris with a 3.827. Newby’s reward for topping the charts was a solo in the first round.


ROUND ONE

Harris defeated Phil Lamattina but at a significant cost. “We threw some rods, the blower was destroyed and that led to some major engine carnage,” Harris said. Newby reported that his car got a bit skatey at the top end.

ROUND TWO

Race officials were tested when Harris and Read flashed across the finish line locked together. After much deliberation, they decided that Read had won. Newby held out Victorian racer Phil Lamattina to take the victory. Within hours, the RAI squad faced a major rebuild for the second time after discovering major damage to the diff.


FINAL ROUND

Harris claimed victory over teammate Newby in a thrilling photo finish to the B-Final. The judges were forced to deliberate for several minutes before announcing their decision.

DAMIEN HARRIS

"We are still leading the championship and that's a positive to come out of the weekend. The meeting has been challenging. We had some dramas on our first pass. There were a lot of damaged parts which is not what you want to see happen. When we raced Wayne in the final, it was very close and it took the judges a long time to decide that we had won. Three wins on the day were good for Junior and the crew."


SANTINO RAPISARDA

"We started super slow and then in Q2, we were super fast. We backed the car down on the solo on race day because of the warm conditions. The car ran well. Then in E1 and E2, we were just not fast enough. We should have pushed harder. We ran a 4.066 and a 4.062 very consistent, but not where we wanted to be. The B-Final between Damien and Wayne was so close and great race to watch."

WAYNE NEWBY

"We had a good car all weekend. We did have some issues, as did the other Rapisarda car. It was very disappointing that we had to rely on television footage to decide who won and who lost. The crew did a great job. We top qualified and were second to Damien and Junior in the B-Final, which was a good effort.


RAI SWITCH STRAIGHT LINES FOR CORNERS IN ROUND TWO OF RAPISARDA AUTOSPORT INTERNATIONAL GO-KART CHALLENGE


Ex-Sprint Car racer Jon Romeo blank streeted his rivals in the second annual RAI Go Kart challenge held on the eve of the TF meeting.

“To win in November and again in March is beyond my wildest dreams,” said Romeo. "This victory was harder. Junior pushed me all the way. He wanted to play dirty a couple of times, but I had his measure.”


According to race organizer Damien Harris, "In just two years, this meeting has become a major event on the Rapisarda Autosport International race calendar. I think Jon will not be allowed to compete next year. Somewhere in the rule book, not sure where, it says, “if you win twice in a row, you're banned for the following year.

"I’ve enjoyed expanding my profile into event management as well as driving. I'm not sure that everyone agrees with my style and modus operandi and have compiled a list of my critics who will probably be missing the next time we race. I also believe we may need to go to an invitation-only model to maintain driving standards and the integrity of the event.


"Sadly, that could see many of this year's competitors could be missing or watching on the sidelines at our next meeting.”

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