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Mon, 06 Jan 2020, 10:09 AM

Rapisarda Autosport International Go 1-2-3 at Willowbank Raceway
Courtesy of John Doig

Rapisarda Autosport International swept the field taking the top three places at the New Year's Thunder meeting at Willowbank Raceway, Jan 4.

Reigning fuel champ Wayne Newby defeated Damien Harris on a holeshot the final of Top Fuel and Californian Ashley Sanford grabbed third place ahead of two-time champ Phil Read.

"It was a great result for our team," Said Team principal Santo Rapisarda. "I was delighted to see Ashley run a personal best. I also want to thank all the boys and girls who worked on the cars and behind the scenes in the hot and very humid conditions."

For the first time this season, the meet was conducted under the all run format featuring two rounds of racing plus bonus low et and top speed points to set the field for the final round.

In round one Harris took the win against Sanford who smoked the tyres. Newby with a 3.89 pass defeated two-time champ Phil Lamattina and also grabbed low et and top speed points.

Newby's run all the more meritorious given the track temperature was a sizzling 135F.

Round two and on a marginally cooler track Harris booked his passage to the final when his opponent Read cut a red light. Newby faced of against Lamattina again, and honours went to the RAI star.

The final between Newby and Harris was run under idyllic conditions and delivered the best race of the day. Both cars marched in unison down the track until Harris's chances of victory evaporated after taking out a timing box. Newby running 3.86/311 mph. Harris with a 3.84/310 mph.

"The first run on the day against Phil Lamattina set the team up for the rest of the meeting." Said Newby. "We had a few dramas after second round when we had to replace the engine and blower. I'm lucky to have a great crew and tuner in Santino Rapisarda who stepped up to the mark and gave me a badass car."

"For the final, we decided to be more aggressive." Explained gun tuner Santino Rapisarda. " We bought the clutch timers in. Changed the blower and pistons in the car and put in a new motor after we kicked the rods out in the second round. We took a bit of a gamble, rolled the dice and it paid off."

The race for third and fourth between Sanford and Read was highlighted by a slashing win by Sanford and came with the added bonus of a personal best in Australia of 3.82/313 mph for the Californian speedster. "The car left angry," said a jubilant Sanford. "When I say angry that's meant as a positive. It stayed glued to the ground and went straight down the track. As soon as I pulled the 'chutes, I knew it was a big number."

Rob Cavagnino tuner for Sanford.
"Because of the away the seeding's worked, and we were not up in the points it meant we didn't get lane choice. We had two shots in the left lane, and it wasn't a good lane for us or anyone else. Then when we got into the right lane, and the tracked cooled slightly we decided to put some power into the car and bang we ran a 3.82. A great run."

Santo Rapisarda Jr.
"The final was a good race between the two Rapisarda cars. Wayne's the Australian champion and on top of his game. So congratulations to him Santino and their Team. Our car is getting better each meeting and showed a lot of promise today."

Damien Harris
Damien Harris
"Santo Junior and his Team gave me a great race car, and I'm disappointed that I let them down. The car got a bit loose at the top end and moved towards the centerline. I kept my foot into it until the electronic system shut the car off. The car was a hotrod. We are looking forward to the next round in Sydney in a couple of weeks."

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