The tough, USA-experienced Rapisarda Racing outfit will be out to stop Darren Morgan’s championship charge come this weekend’s third round of the ANDRA Top Fuel championship at Perth Motorplex.
The team again has gun driver Allan Dobson at the wheel, expecting to repeat the 4.6 second form that carried them to a win at the Fuchs Winternationals in June.
With Morgan looking to rack up a nitro hat trick, Rapisarda team manager Santo Rapisarda Jnr said there has been little rest since returning from the USA to prepare to take on the reigning national champion as well as the potent Phil Lamattina and winner of the last event in Perth, Mark Sheehan.
“Going from Vegas to Sydney to Pomona to Perth, there has been not much resting happening,” he said. “When we turn up to a racetrack, no matter where in the world, our objective is obviously to perform to the best of our ability and, of course, to win.”
The Rapisarda Racing team finished their USA campaign on a positive note in the NHRA World Finals at Pomona, defeating top qualifier Shawn Langdon in the first round before going down to Bob Vandergriff in the second stanza.
The family operation consisting of head Santo Rapisarda and his sons Santo Jnr and Santino have spent their time working with nitro tuning luminaries such as Lee Beard and Todd Okuhara.
“My brother and I have learned a bunch in regards to putting together a powerful and efficient engine combination and also fine tuning clutch application,” Rapisarda Jnr said. “There has been an enormous amount of knowledge gained over the past year, more than can be put down on paper. We will look to use our fast USA runs as a baseline as we develop our tune-up for our cars over here.”
The Rapisarda Racing team missed the opening round of the championship in Adelaide due to USA commitments but came back for the Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway.
Despite qualifying third with a quick 4.78, the first round saw them lose to Martin Stamatis with an ailing race car. Rapisarda Jnr is confident the team has found the problem and that with the added benefit of all the team being back in Australia, they will be far better resourced to take on the Perth round.
“At the Australian Nationals we believe we found a problem with the clutch that had been causing us grief since the Winternationals,” he said. “We attended to that and were dogged by dropped cylinders over the weekend.
“We have made some changes for the Perth race which we think will resolve these issues so that we have a fast race car that also does not damage parts. The Perth race also brings the team back together without anybody away in the USA, meaning that no-one is stretched too thin.”
While Allan Dobson is the team’s primary driver in the Australian championship, Rapisarda Jnr said the team has been in talks to bring a US import to compete as well in future rounds.
“Throughout the season in the USA, Dad has had many conversations with drivers interested in coming out to race here in Australia,” he said. “The Nitro Champs is our next big home race where we will again be running a two car team with the possibility of seeing a US driver in the second car - and of course to have Allan Dobson as our primary driver in the championship.”
The ANDRA Drag Racing Series brings 8000 horsepower Top Fuel competition to Perth alongside the wild and crazy riders of Top Bike.
Qualifying begins from 6pm Friday, with racing from 6pm Saturday.