Mariani set for super hot action

MARK Mariani will start a journey this weekend at Willowbank Raceway that will see him race against the best Top Fuel drag racers in Australia and America over the next four months.

The 2011 New Year Series round one event on Sunday and Monday will be the only Australian appearance this summer for Mariani and the Sydney-based multiple Australian championship-winning Rapisarda Racing/Titan Cranes team he drives for.

After racing at the season-opening Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway in September, Team Rapisarda and Mariani went to the US for the final two 2010 National Hot Rod Association Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events, finishing 29th from 45 competitors.

After the Willowbank event, Mariani and key Rapisarda team members will head back to the US for the 51st annual NHRA Winternationals at Pomona in February.

Mariani, who won the Nitro Champs at Sydney Dragway in May, believes the US experience has made him a better driver.

“The whole (US) experience was unbelievable,” he said.

“We qualified (in the 16-car field) at Las Vegas and won our first round elimination, which was fantastic and a great experience for the whole team.”

Mariani said while Top Fuel race over 1000 feet (304.8 metres) in the NHRA, he is looking forward to racing over the traditional quarter-mile (403.5 metres) at Willowbank and bettering his personal-best time of 4.776 seconds recorded at the Winternationals (Willowbank) in June.

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