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Rapisarda Autosport International will make the 3900 km trek from their home base in Sydney to the Perth Motorplex for round five of the 2022-23 Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship, March 3-4.

The return of the series to the ‘Plex for the second time this season is shaping up as being critical for RAI duo Damien Harris and tuner Santo Rapisarda Jr. chasing their first Oz championship since 2015 and teammates Wayne Newby and Santino Rapisarda on the hunt to score their first title since 2019.

‘Damo’ and Junior began their 2022-23 campaign in dynamic fashion claiming back-to-back victories at the Motorplex double header meeting in November. On day one, held over from the Alice Springs event that was postponed due to weather, they defeated Sydneysider Phil Read and also established a new track record of 3.77. Then, 24 hours later scored an easy win over veteran Phil Lamattina.

Their only blemish this season came at Sydney Dragway in January when they stumbled and finished sixth.

Harris holds a 90-point lead over reigning champ Peter Xiberras and Sydney veteran Phil Read tied in second spot with Newby 50 points adrift in fourth place.

Two-time champions Wayne/Santino are chasing their first win of the season to keep in touch with the leaders. Despite a series of niggling mechanical issues, they have still managed to finish runner-up in the B-Final on three occasions this season.

“When we raced in Sydney, things didn't go as planned, but on our last run, we finished with a 3.79, which was low ET of the meeting and that’s where we will pick up this weekend,” said Santo Rapisarda Jr. “Over the years, we’ve done well at the Perth Motorplex. Coming out of summer, the conditions will be cooler, making for fast racing. The other factor that will come into play is the influence of the so-called 'Fremantle Doctor,' the late afternoon breeze that cools the track and makes for faster racing into the evening.”

“A strong result in Perth is critical if we are going to challenge for the championship,” according to Santino Rapisarda. “We’ve been knocking on the door all season, but the cards haven’t fallen our way. For the second time this season, there will be a seven-car field. Whoever top qualifies will get the all-important first-round bye and that could go a long way in deciding the winner on the day. I think you will need to run in the 3.70s to win.”

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