Xiberras goes back-to-back at Sydney in history making nitro fuelled weekend 

Note: this story was updated 21 May 2024 with additional information regarding the conclusion of sportsman racing from this event – see underlined text

Double the nitro at the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Champs more than delivered when it came to crowd-pleasing action at Sydney Dragway at the weekend, setting a perfect stage for the upcoming NDRC season finale at the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals (June 6-9).

On-track Sunday was the second round of racing for the weekend for Top Fuel, plus racing for XPRO Nitro Funny Car, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock and FuelTech Pro Mod alongside as second round of the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship, while Red Bull Race Champion Matt Hall also entertained.

In Top Fuel, Peter Xiberras immediately got to work to set up a repeat of his Saturday round win, laying down a 3.80 second, 514.83kph pass in the first run of the day over Phil Read, who went nowhere from the start when the chutes deployed early due to a $20 part failure that triggered the safety system. It was the first of multiple 3-second 500kph+ Top Fuel runs for the day, with Wayne Newby, Shane Olive, and Damien Harris also adding their names to that list.

Sunday’s A-Final was a re-match of Saturday’s, with Xiberras and Harris both making their way to the final battle thanks to convincing round one and two performances, with defending champion Harris looking for redemption while Xiberras was keen to become the first Top Fuel racer to record two A-Final wins so far this season. Xiberras’ effort was more than enough, winning on a holeshot with a 3.795 seconds at 514.7kph to Harris’ 3.793, 523.88kph effort

Peter and Carmen Xiberras (Cackling Pipes)

“This is unbelievable, I don’t know what to say, I am a bit gobsmacked actually,” Xiberras said.

“It has just been one of those weekends where things have fallen into place. There have been times where we thought we had blown it and it just comes in.

“I can’t thank my crew enough – we were here past midnight servicing, there was a little problem we thought with the rear end with the diff and we probably didn’t need to change it, but we did to make sure, so we pulled the diff out and put the spare in and these boys and girls are just amazing individuals and I can’t thank them enough. Without them I wouldn’t be doing this, so kudos to them.”

It was Rapisarda Autosport International teammates Wayne Newby and Shane Olive who would line up for the B-Final, with Newby taking the win with a flying 3.753 second 528.73kph pass to not only best Olive, but also set a new Sydney Dragway Top Fuel ET record in the process.

In the C-Final, it wasn’t the weekend either of the Phils were hoping for, with Lamattina and Read suffering from mechanical issues throughout the day, and a red light for Lamattina in round two. However, it was a positive ending to the weekend for Read, taking out the win with a 7.442 second pass despite troubles at half-track when Lamattina threw away a 3.895/443.12kph pass with another red light on the start in a continuation of his extremely challenging weekend. 

Peter Xiberras (Joe Maday)

With their qualifying completed on Saturday, it was also straight into racing across XPRO Nitro Funny Cars, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock and FuelTech Pro Mod. 

In the A-Final Top Qualifier Brandon Gosbell lined up against Justin Walshe, with the latter looking for a critical win in his championship aspirations heading into the finals in June. Walshe did what he needed to do, with the Queenslander besting his opponent with a 4.114 second 511.19kph pass to Gosbell’s 5.140/235.70kph effort. Walshe and Gosbell each recorded wins across the day – Gosbell in round one (5.011/244.53kph) over Anthony Begley (16.841/99.10kph) and Walshe in round two (4.147/509.51kph) over Adam Murrihy (4.858/313.87kph) – to find their way to the A-Final.

“What can I say!” Walshe enthused.

“This is the fourth round of our season, the fourth final for the Harts Paint Supplies team, and we now have three Gold Trees and one silver one!

“These guys in the blue shirts (gesturing to his team) are just killing it, the way they hold themselves under pressure is just second to none.

“These guys (gesturing to the team of runner-up Gosbell and his team-mates McMillin and Leahy) are absolute gangsters, I say they are killer bees! There was one in yellow, then another, and now there are three, and they are the most badass guys in the country to get three cars to do what we do, what they do is the meaning of gangster, and it is the crowd that gets the reward.

“It is really phenomenal what the sport is doing, with NDRC, Top Fuel, Nitro Funny Car, Top Doorslammer, sportsman, and with Aeroflow, Rocket Industries, XPRO; it is all just awesome.

“Happy birthday to my wife – I didn’t even buy her a present, so this one is for you sweetheart!”

Justin Walshe (Cackling Pipes)

In the B-Final, it was Morice McMillin all the way to take the win over Anthony Begley. McMillin enjoyed a solo run in round one and a win over rookie Josh Leahy in round two, who had the crowd on the edge of their seats with a white-knuckle moment in the deep end in that race when he moved across the line immediately behind the Aeroflow Performance Ford Mustang of McMillin when clutch dust filled his cabin, right as McMillin deployed his chutes. It was a huge job by the debutante to avoid a serious accident as he hauled it back across into the other lane, just tagging the wall in the process.

In the C-Final Adam Murrihy enjoyed a bye, getting an impressive start off the line and setting down a 5.489 second 175.75kph run – a solid comeback from missing round one due to engine issues.

Justin Walshe (Cackling Pipes)

Just before round two for Top Fuel and XPRO Nitro Funny Car, current Red Bull Air Race Champion Matt Hall once again put on a 450kph high-flying spectacular in the skies over Sydney Dragway. Sunday’s performance was arguably even more jaw-dropping than Saturday’s, with perfect weather conditions allowing for an unrestricted 10-minute show demonstrating a huge variety of spins and loops, as well as a perfectly controlled hover and low-flying pass directly up the centre of the dragstrip to round out the show. 

In Top Doorslammer it was a quintessential Australian start to the day when a kangaroo hopped across the dragway before some of the most hotly contested Top Doorslammer racing of the season got properly underway. 

A dramatic A-Final saw rookie Russell Taylor line up against Daniel Gregorini, with Taylor crossing the centre line, knocking out a timing block, and handing possibly the slowest Top Doorslammer win to Gregorini.  

Earlier in the day, Taylor set a new quickest ET of the weekend with a 5.634 at 415.88kph pass over Craig Hewitt (6.133/388.60kph) in round one. Gregorini won both of his races against Emilio Spinozzi in rounds one and two to find his way to the A-Final.

“That is not too bad…I was like ‘damn’ (having had to get off it), but then next thing I saw timing blocks flying across in front of me, so I was like, ‘yeah we got the win.’ Thank you to all my sponsors and all of my team and Lisa’s team – we got the win in the A-Final and the B-Final, so that is awesome,” Gregorini said. 

“Every single team in Doorslammer is stepping up, it just shows how hard the class is, and you take the wins where you can get them. This is our last race for the season so we will go home now, rebuild, and try and find some more power and some more go fast parts and go from there. 

“My boys have done an awesome job all weekend, Lisa is just unbelievable, she is a great driver, and her team is great, and they are killing it. Thank you to all my sponsors for all of their support.”

Daniel Gregorini celebrates with his team (Cackling Pipes)

In the B-Final Lisa Gregorini enjoyed a solo run after Ronnie Palumbo was unable to make it to the starting box. It was a stellar weekend for ‘Mrs YoungBlood’, who set two new PBs across rounds one (5.704/373.93kph) and two (5.689/408.99kph) despite having battled mechanical issues throughout Saturday’s qualifying.

In the C-Final, Top Qualifier and title leader John Zappia was looking for redemption after losing to Jeremy Callaghan on a holeshot in round two, but sadly, this wouldn’t be the case. The 11-time champ was pushed back from the startline in a heartbreaking scene with fluid dripping from his Monaro, with the win going to Callaghan (10.491/133.8kph). 

In the D-Final, Craig Hewitt kept the fans happy, delivering the biggest Top Doorslammer wheel stand this weekend on his way to a 6.068 second 373.96kph victory over Geoff Gradden (9.400/192.75kph).

Daniel Gregorini (Cackling Pipes)

In FuelTech Pro Mod, only the D-Final was able to be successfully completed this evening with Greg Tsakiridis (7.950/206.52kph) taking the win over Neil Murphy (8.182 /193.05kph) in what could only be called a pedal fest. 

A dramatic C-Final accident for Joe Gauci saw the Profab ‘67 Mustang drift towards the centre line before getting completely out of shape as the car lifted while moving back across the lane, where it hit the wall and came to a rest in the deep end after sliding on its roof. With the safety crews immediately on hand, Gauci was out of the car and walked away to the awaiting medical staff. 

Following the incident and with a lengthy clean-up required in rapidly dropping temperatures, the decision was made to conclude on-track running, with the remaining FuelTech Pro Mod and Pro Stock finals to be completed at the Winternationals.

Eleven Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship brackets had taken to the track for their second round of the weekend, commencing with the conclusion of qualifying for Top Sportsman, Performance Bike, and SuperComp with Steve Fowler, Edge Mallis and Jai Schluter taking those honours respectively, before racing for all brackets commenced.

On Monday morning, the NDRC brokered a deal with the Winternationals to complete all Nitro Champs Aeroflow National Sportsman rounds that reached the semi-final stages in the second round of this weekend’s event.

This will see Supercharged Outlaws and Junior Dragsters complete from their semi-finals on at the June event, while Junior Drag Bike, Modified, SuperComp and Top Sportsman will run their finals there.

Some Aeroflow Sportsman Championship classes didn’t get far enough through competition to be able to complete racing at the Winternationals. The NDRC and Sydney Dragway have worked together and have agreed to complete those rounds at the Track Championship in July.

As this occurs after the Eastern Conference final, this round will be excluded from the Eastern Conference points for affected categories, but trophies will still be awarded. It is acknowledged this is an imperfect solution, but NDRC are committed to awarding Christmas Trees and recognising and rewarding the Sportsman racers who made the effort to come to the Nitro Champs to race.

Categories that will now be competing at the Sydney Track Championship round are as follows: Super Gas, Modified Bike, Performance Bike, Extreme Bike, Super Street, and Super Sedan. Further detailed information will be sent to affected racers soon.

“The NDRC is committed to awarding Christmas Tree trophies and championship points,” NDRC promoter, Andy Lopez, said.

“Despite our best efforts Sunday night, a major on track incident combined with plummeting track temperatures meant we were unable to finish the second Sportsman round of the weeknd.

“We spoke with Willowbank Raceway organisers right away, and we are happy to announce that for those categories that made it to semi-final level, we can offer a chance to secure a result and win a Nitro Champs Christmas tree at the Winters. This racing will occur as part of these brackets’ qualifying sessions on the Thursday of that event.

“This matches the commitment and opportunity the NDRC gives to Group One racers to complete championship rounds at subsequent events.

“Further, I’m pleased to confirm that if the racers in those semis and finals haven’t registered for the Winters, but now want to attend given this situation, Willowbank Raceway has agreed they can secure registration even though registrations have closed given these special circumstances. We will be reaching out to those racers in the next 48 hours.

“At the NDRC we are all about finding ways to deliver meaningful results and reward racers for their achievements, and while we weren’t able to complete racing last night, hopefully this will allow us to do as much as we can to recognise the efforts of our racers who were with us on-track.

“Speaking of the Winters, Willowbank Chairman Tony Wedlock told me this morning that the new track surface is shaping up to be absolutely mint. Track work is going well, and the Willowbank team are working really hard to present a great racing track for the last round of the NDRC season.”

The NDRC title chase now heads to Willowbank Raceway across 6 to 9 June for the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals for the final round of their 2023/2024 season. With Top Fuel, XPRO Nitro Funny Car, Top Doorslammer, Top Fuel Motorcycle, Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle and FuelTech Pro Mod all in the one place for four huge days, plus the Eastern Conference final for the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship at this event, there will be everything to play for at ‘The Winters’. For event info and tickets, go to ndrc.tv

Related Posts

Aeroflow Sportsman racers excel at Willowbank Raceway – Part Three

Aeroflow Sportsman racers excel at Willowbank Raceway – Part Two

Aeroflow Sportsman racers excel at Willowbank Raceway – Part One

Celebrations abound at NDRC season-ending Winternationals

Contact us

Stay informed!

Keep up to date with all the latest drag racing news from around the country, direct to your inbox.