The 8000 horsepower nitro dragsters of Top Fuel are crossing the desert expanses of Australia in readiness to attack Perth Motorplex this Friday and Saturday night in what will be a crucial round of the ANDRA Drag Racing Series.
The season opened in Adelaide with Darren Morgan defeating Phil Lamattina before moving on to Sydney for the Australian Nationals where the same result occurred. Now the teams make the gruelling trek across the continent to Western Australia for round three.
The "Mildura Missile" Morgan comes into the event as a hot favourite. Not only is the Victorian the reigning national champion, but he has opened his 2012/13 series in near perfection with two event wins. Running in all black livery without a major sponsor, Morgan has demonstrated great consistency, not yet having to abort a run in eliminations, a credit to young gun crew chief Ben Patterson. Morgan made the final the last time Top Fuel was in Perth, losing to upstart Mark Sheehan. He did however top qualify and run the quickest time and highest speed of the event.
Speaking of Sheehan, the WA local has been acquiring a nitro arsenal the equal of any in the country. Through a deal with Alan Johnson Racing in the USA, Sheehan’s team will be just the third in the world to use the new latest generation cylinder heads. Together with USA-import crew chief John Smith, Sheehan simply outsmarted the field in competition last time out at the Motorplex, using consistent 4.9 second passes to get down a trick race track. If there is a disadvantage for Sheehan, it is that this will be his first time racing for the season. The team will be testing ahead of the event to make sure there are no bugs in the nitro system.
Victorian Phil Lamattina has been the bridesmaid to Morgan twice so far this season with little issues getting in the way of the potent Fuchs team. A red light in Adelaide arguably cost him the win while a fuel system issue in Sydney hampered efforts to get down the track and saw Lamattina endure one of the biggest engine explosions seen in the sport (see video below). Taking the positives from the event though, it was Lamattina’s first ever final at Sydney Dragway – a track that has held a hoodoo on the former champion. Lamattina has confessed that the team is after some serious numbers. “Make it or break it” may be the team’s philosophy this weekend.
This leaves WA fireman Allan Dobson, driving again for NSW team owner Santo Rapisarda. Dobson rejoined the series at the Australian Nationals in Sydney but a first round breakage saw him lose a tight race with Martin Stamatis. The Rapisarda team has now completed their tour of duty in the USA, giving them some more time to focus on the local rounds. The team won the Fuchs Winternationals back in June and has the potential to run extremely quick.
Championship wise, Morgan obviously holds the lead after his two wins on 217 points. Sittng in second 37 points down is Lamattina, with Steve Read, who won’t be contesting the Perth round, a further 31 points behind. Perhaps able to make the most headway will be sixth placed Allan Dobson, eyeing off third position if he has a good weekend at his home track.
Qualifying for Top Fuel begins at 6pm on Friday at Perth Motorplex, with racing from 6pm Saturday. Click here for more information.