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Three rounds of racing are all that now separates the racers of the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship as well as the ADRC Top Doorslammer and ADRC Top Fuel Motorcycle titles.

Day one of the season-ending Nitro Up North event at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Drag Strip – being held as part of the Darwin Triple Crown festivities – has hosted two rounds of qualifying for these brackets this evening in preparation for tomorrow’s title deciding racing.

Taking the advantage into Saturday’s action are top qualifiers Peter Xiberras (Top Fuel), John Zappia (Top Doorslammer) and Benny Stevens (Top Fuel Motorcycle).

Xiberras blazed his way to the top spot by being the only entry to go into ‘the threes’ this evening, with a 3.99 second pass at 290.88 miles per hour, which was set in the first qualifier.

Xiberras is currently tied for second place in the championship standings with Phil Read and in touch of leader, Damien Harris. Harris was the 2nd quickest qualifier tonight with a 4.101 second pass at 222.88mph, while Read was 7th fastest with a 6.071s/110.46mph effort.

“It is a really good feeling to be heading into tomorrow’s championship fight as the Top Qualifier,” Xiberras said.

“We go into tomorrow’s title deciding racing tied for second place with Phil Read, just 65 points shy of leader Damien Harris.

“We are going to be doing everything we can to make sure we are in the box seat if the cards can fall our way, and tonight’s result is the perfect start.

“It is an exceptionally busy weekend for us here in Darwin as we are contesting not only the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship this weekend but also competing in the Supercars’ Darwin Triple Crown next door, so here is hoping that PremiAir Racing can have a fantastic day all round tomorrow and bring home some trophies!”

Zappia claimed the top qualifier honours for Top Doorslammer by laying down a 5.729 second pass at 248.66 mile per hour. The 11-time champ is currently placed second on the championship standings, behind leader Kelvin Lyle, who was 2nd quickest this evening with a 5.949 second pass at 257.68mph.

“For the first run the track didn’t have much in it and so we all pretty much overpowered the track. We backed it off a fair bit for the second run and obviously the track got a bit better. We were in the left lane up against Lisa Gregorini and we were feeling confident that it should go down the track,” Zappia said.

“Sure enough, the car left pretty hard with a .956 60-foot time and the Dananni Hot Shots/Fuchs Lubricants Monaro rocketed down the track. It started going a little to the right, so I pedalled it a little bit to keep it in my lane and it went down nicely.

“The first run tomorrow will be hot as we are running a bit earlier tomorrow. The track may be tricky for the first one, so we just have to get through that one and then take it one run at a time.”

In Top Fuel Motorcycle, Benny Stevens claimed the top spot with a 6.694 second pass at 212.49mph. Stevens is second on the championship standings. Championship leader Rob Cassar qualified 2nd fastest with a 7.264 and 182.18mph.

The Nitro Up North action at the Hidden Valley Drag Strip will conclude tomorrow, Saturday 17 June, with three rounds of racing for the Top Fuel, Top Doorslammer and Top Fuel Motorcycle competitors at 5.30pm, 7.30pm and 9.30pm. Those not at the track can watch all of the action unfold live and free on 7Plus.

For full event information including entry lists and scheduling information, visit

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