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The Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder meeting at Sydney Dragway, May 3-4 is shaping up as the most important event of the 2018-19 season for Rapisarda Autosport International.

The Sydney based team is fielding their customary three cars. Each driver, Wayne Newby, Damien Harris and Ashley Sanford bringing differing and compelling narratives to the penultimate race of the season.

Newby trails series leader Kelly Bettes by 12 points, Sanford is third 37 points behind Newby and 29 points ahead of Harris.

Wayne Newby and tuner Santino Rapisarda’s 2018-19 season started strongly with a win over Sanford in the final of the East Coast Thunder meet in November. The victory even more commendable because they raced a state of the art DSR canopy car that was only screwed together hours before hitting the track for the first time. Since then the team has been dogged by race day gremlins and finished third on two occasions.

Damien Harris and tuner Santo Rapisarda Jr. campaign got off to a solid start when they top qualified and finished a strong third when RAI swept the opening round of the season. Over the next two rounds, they were plagued by niggling mechanical woes and have slipped down the charts to fifth place.

Sanford and tuner Rob Cavagnino have developed into a formidable duo and with two second places from three starts this year are on the cusp of landing Sanford her first win in Top Fuel.

"We race as a team but there are no team orders,” said team owner Santo Rapisarda. “There exists a rivalry between all three of our teams that is healthy and necessary if you want to perform at your best. To score a win in our hometown Sydney is always a special occasion. We are looking forward to this weekend and above all, want put on a great show for the crowd.”