Phil Lamattina, chasing his first Top Fuel championship since 2014, scored his first victory since May 2022 in the Riverbend Nationals, Round Four of the Top Fuel Australia Championship. After defeating Harris in the A-Final, the ‘Carrot King’ has catapulted into contention to win the 2023-2024 Championship.

“From here, we want to continue the momentum,” Lamattina said. “We won’t change what we’ve been doing but will try to improve. We can only race the car, the track, and the conditions. That’s what we did this weekend, and it certainly worked in our favor.”

Lamattina’s has become the fourth different winner so far this season. 

RAI star Damien Harris has set a new Aussie record for both ET and speed of 3.73 at 329 mph, shredding the earlier record of 3.74 at 325 mph set by two-time champ Peter Xiberras at the 2021 Winternationals. 

Ironically, Xiberras was in the opposite lane when Harris made his record-breaking run during round two of eliminations.

“That was an amazing run,” said a delighted Harris. “The car took off and just went faster and faster. It was one of those runs where everything goes to plan. We race to win, but anytime you can break a record is a real bonus. When I returned to the pits, the look on Santo Rapisarda’s face was pure gold.” 

Phil Read set a career best of 3.78 at 306 mph to outpace series leader Wayne Newby in B-Final, while the C-Final went to Peter Xiberras on a solo. 

The points standings have Newby leading on 431, Lamattina 398, Harris 386, Read 300, and Xiberras 222 with three rounds remaining.

In Doorslammer, the season-long battle between veteran John Zappia and rookie Russell Taylor rages. This time, honors go to Zappia, who led all the way to victory in the A-Final. Rookie of the year contender Ronnie Palumbo downed Lisa Gregorini in the B-Final, and Daniel Gregorini cruised to an easy win in the C-Final over veteran Peter Lovering. 

There were two winners in Pro Stock.

Category standout Rob Dekert defeated veteran Rick Chilton in the final of the January Australia Day meeting, which was postponed due to rain.
The day two winner was Tyrone Tremayne, returning after a ten-month absence, who was handed the win in the A-Final after Dekert cut a red light. 

Tremayne topped the time sheets and walked away with a PB of 6.86 at 198 mph during qualifying.

The B-Final went to Chris Soldatos with a 6.92 at 197 mph over Omar Sedmak, who red-lit but gained some consolation after setting a career best of 6.93 at 195 mph in the second round against series newcomer Ray Oxley. 

Aaron Tremayne took out the C-Final against the luckless Chilton, who claimed a PB of 6.95 in Round Two.


Reigning champ Harris claimed the top spot for the second time this season to head the five-car field. Harris opened his account with a 3.82 at 320 mph followed by a 3.78 at the ‘sluggish’ speed of 287 mph after he was forced to lift 3.4 seconds into the run due to sun glare from the track. 
The bonus for Harris, as the top qualifier, meant a solo in round one and direct entry to the semi-final.

 RAI teammate Newby claimed second place after opening his account with an early shut-off at 3.95 and 296 mph and then stepping up with a strong 3.82 at 323 mph.

The difference between the RAI cars for the top spot was .001 second and an estimated six inches.

Two-time champ Xiberras returned to the series after missing the previous round and was immediately up to speed, running a 3.83 at 316 mph. 

His second qualifier ended abruptly after he was timed out against Phil Read.

Last round winner Read dropped the number seven cylinder on the hit first up, then according to tuner Bruce Read, “it all fell into place” with a strong 3.84 at 317 mph against Xiberras.

Lamattina had a shocker. In Q1, he dropped the number eight cylinder on the hit. In the next run, he had clutch issues, trundled down the track to finish at the rear of the field, and was seeded to race Newby in round one of eliminations. 


The first round opened with a brilliant race between Read and Xiberras. Victory went to Read with a 3.80 at 303 mph to Xiberras on a 3.82 at 324 mph.

According to Read, “the car also laid over at the top end after dropping the number three cylinder.”

On a solo, Harris stunned the crowd when he posted a 3.77 at 327 mph in what was to be a precursor for later that day.
Newby went down to Lamattina on a holeshot, the margin of victory .04 sec.


The highlight of the round and the 2023-2024 season came in the Xiberras versus Harris battle.

Harris launched hard and led to the finish line when the timer boards flashed up a 3.73 at 329 mph. A time and speed never witnessed before in the history of Australian drag racing. 

The round didn’t go well for Read, who was a non-starter after shearing a magneto drive during engine warm-up, handing the win to Lamattina.
Newby also had a solo and ran a 3.76 at 325 mph. “All good, nice and quick,” according to tuner Santino Rapisarda.

Xiberras was off the money early and posted a 3.82 at 293 mph. 

Crew chief Tim Adams said, “We just can’t get the car to 60 feet. From there on, we are ok.”


The A-Final was one for the ages.

Lamattina went for broke, cutting a .030 light, but was gathered up by Harris, who then began to fall back slightly due to broken clutch fingers as both cars marched down the track in unison and flashed across the line. The ‘Carrot King’ recorded a 3.80 at 314 mph against Harris’s 3.78 at 326 mph. 

Xiberras, on a bye, ran a 3.84 at 315 mph.

Read trailed Newby off the line in the B-Final, hit the front at the 60-foot mark, and then took the win. “We got it wrong,” according to Santino Rapisarda. “We should have given the car more clutch on the hit.” 




For some reason, there were three qualifying runs instead of the usual two, which was a puzzling decision considering there were only nine entries.

Zappia dominated with a pass of 5.64 to lead Daniel Gregorini, who returned to championship-winning form with a 5.65. Taylor grabbed yet another PB in his rookie season thanks to a 5.67 to slot into third ahead of Palumbo and Lisa Gregorini, who had back-to-back PBs in fourth.


John Zappia clarified his intentions when he laid down a 5.60 at 256 mph on his solo.

Taylor was not intimidated and posted another personal best of 5.63 at 257 mph to defeat veteran Pat Carbone, who grazed the left and right-hand walls. 

Palumbo drove around local Adam Tassone to book passage into Round Two, and  Lisa Gregorini hung on to win over Paul Lovering despite a fuel line coming loose around 900 feet.

Daniel Gregorini overcame a .20 light to account for newcomer Mick Mahoney. 


Bragging rights as the best Gen Z Doorslammer racer in the country were up for grabs when Palumbo raced Lisa Gregorini. Palumbo cut a .057 light to Gregorini’s .099 to take the win.

The standout performance of the round was Russell Taylor, who came from behind with a barnstorming run to account for Daniel Gregorini on his way to a spot in the A-Final.

Zappia’s march to the A-Final continued despite a reaction time of .52 against Tassone. 


The eagerly awaited final that pitted Zappia against Taylor didn’t disappoint. Taylor was quickest on the tree by .069, then went into tire shake, allowing Zap to ease away and take the win.

“We came here knowing we had a good car,” said Zappia. “We were expecting only to have the usual five rounds of racing and towards the end of the meeting, we were getting low on valve springs and also got down to two blower belts and they had already been used. We were lucky we got away with it.”

Daniel Gregorini collected the win in the C-Final against Lovering and then waited in the deep end at spouse Lisa raced off in the B-Final against Palumbo. 

The race was won and lost on the Christmas tree, with Palumbo cutting a .02 light to Gregorini with a .40.


NEW WHEELS FOR HARRIS  - Damien Harris was driving the team’s C-car after his usual car was damaged in a crash at the Perth Motorplex last month and could not be repaired in time.

“My hire car for the weekend, which I’m calling the C-car, is a little bit different from my usual drive,” Harris says. “The seating position is slightly more upright, and the clutch and gas pedals are a bit closer.” 

ALL IN THE FAMILY - Kurtis Read, son of Phil Read, was back crewing on the family car after recently claiming a pair of wins in Supercharged Outlaws at Sydney Dragway.

AMERICAN BROTHERS HELP OUT  - “The windscreen on Waynes’s car got scratched when it went into the net at the Perth Motorplex last month,” said Santino Rapisarda. “We contacted Mike Domagala at PMP, and he arranged for a new screen to be sourced and shipped to Australia along with many other bits and pieces we needed. The front wing was also damaged, but the CAPCO team and Bobby Lagana were able to help us out there. We’re really grateful. They’re our American brothers, and we really appreciate what they did for us.”

SEE YOU IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS - Russell Taylor spent the day after the meeting servicing his car and trailer at the track instead of taking the car home to Perth, 1750 miles away. The car and trailer are being sent to Sydney for the Nitro Champs in May and then onto the Winternationals in Queensland in June. 

Fellow Western Australians John Zappia and the Gregorini family are taking their cars home to Perth and making the 2,250-mile trip to Sydney for the Nitro Champs. 

VENTURING INTO ENEMY TERRITORY - Maurice Allen, head honcho of IHRA Australia, raced at the ANDRA-sanctioned Riverbend Nationals. Since IHRA arrived on the scene in 2016, the two bodies have been locked in a battle for control over sanctioning rights for Australian drag racing. Allen was required to buy an ANDRA license to compete.

Then, much to the chagrin of some ANDRA diehards, Allen won the Pro Stock bike final.