Phil Read dropped the quickest Top Fuel pass ever seen at Sydney Dragway in Friday night testing for Santo's Summer Thunder.
Running under bright new sponsorship from Hydraulink, Read's early shut off pass of 3.802 at 301mph was the most impressive run of a day that had earlier been affected by wet weather.
The nitro teams seemed to have little problem finding performance on what turned out to be a stout night of testing. Damien Harris, running a new clutch set up, hit a 3.854 at a big 322mph in his Rapisarda Autosport International (RAI) dragster, with Peter Xiberras matching that ET to the thousandth for Premiair Racing despite losing a fuel line just before the stripe.
RAI's Wayne Newby settled for a 3.91 as last minute team mate Richie Crampton got a feel for an RAI rail for the first time with a 3.99. Phil Lamattina had a loose fuel fitting and had just an 11 second pass to his name, electing not to make a second pass as the team tackled some supercharger issues.
Pro Slammer looks like it will be a close affair come race day. John Zappia, coming into this event following an epic 5.58 run in Perth, was quickest with a 5.69, followed by Steven Ham on a 5.71 and Mark Hinchelwood with a 5.75. Michelle Davies was in strong form with a PB 5.82, following an earlier 5.86, showing some consistency pace. Gary Phillips had his Studebaker out for the first time in 18 months and was happy on a very early shut off 5.95.
Top Fuel and Pro Slammer will have one more shakedown on Saturday before getting into the three round, all-run format.
Pro Mod made its debut, using a 'closest to 5.85' format that brings together basically anything with swinging doors. Closest to the mark in the two qualifying sessions of Friday was Greg Tsakaridis with a 5.847, closely followed by a 5.899 by Rob Campisi and a 5.904 from Zoran Gajic. With an exciting range of combinations, the class looks set to provide some interesting racing come Saturday.
While Top Bike is unfortunately under exhibition status again with just two entries, there was some positive news with John Zahra completing licensing on his nitro four cylinder. Zahra dropped runs of 6.72 and 6.92 for the honours.
A small Pro Radial field saw Craig Burns top the list with a 4.142, just ahead of Joe Gauci's 4.156.
Extreme Bike saw speed king Leonard Azzopardi well and truly in top spot with a 7.16/209mph, leading Brandon Gosbell's 7.22.
Early sportsman leaders include Daniel Camilleri (Super Comp), Ken Collin (Performance Bike), Jason Stares (Top Sportsman), Jess Turner (Modified), Patrick Barron (Super Sedan), Robert Simmonds (Modified Bike), Peter Hamilton (Super Street), Tracey McConnell (Junior Dragster) and Adrian McGrotty (Super Gas).
For full results check out the run sheets below.