Record drag time outside US set at Yas Marina

The 500kph mark remains elusive but the sell-out crowd is brought up to speed thanks to the Top Fuel Dragsters.

ABU DHABI // The magical 500kph mark remained elusive in six attempts, but yesterday's sell-out crowd at the Yas Marina Circuit's new drag racing centre were witness to the fastest drive outside the United States. Rodney "Hot Rod" Fuller came agonisingly close to the magic milestone when he clocked 499.97kph (310.6mph) in race four of the 8,000horsepower Top Fuel Dragsters, covering the 402metre track in 3.898secs. The world record for the distance is 3.76secs. Fuller was disappointed not to break the 500kph barrier, but delighted to win his six-race duel against Tommy Johnson Jr 4-2 and breach the 3.8secs mark on their first running at the brand new track. "After losing the first race, I wanted to win all the others," he said. "I managed to do so in four of the five, so that's not a bad take. "It would have been great to get 500kph and we came really close. So that was a bit disappointing, but I hope the fans had a good time. From what I have seen, there is a lot of interest in the sport here and drag racing will only grow from here." Fuller's rival Johnson, who will be driving Yas Marina Circuit's Top Fuel dragsters for 2010, had launched the bid for 500kph with a blistering 499.17kph in the first race on Friday. The American was disappointed not improve on that speed in the remaining five duels. "After the first race, I thought we will get to 500kph," he said. "So that was a little disappointing, but I think we have put up a good show for the fans and given them a good indication of what this sport is all about. Next time we are here, we hope to go much quicker. We really enjoyed racing here and it was great to see so many fans come out to support us on both days. "I am thrilled that the fans are so excited about it. It's my passion. To see another part of the world get so excited about it thrills me." Fuller and Johnson were the biggest attraction at the two-day event to launch the new drag racing centre, which saw more than 120 participants in eight different categories. The UAE's Ali al Kaabi impressed in the Pro Modified category with an Elapsed Time of 6.10901secs over the quarter-mile and a top speed of 376.53kph. "It was a fantastic experience," said al Kaabi from Sharjah. "With this facility here now, I believe this sport will get really big. As you can see, there is a lot of enthusiasm for drag racing in the country and now we have a place to hone our skills."