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Archive for May, 2006

The third event of the North European Championship started off under heavy rain. In the free practice session Atte Mustonen was 4th, very close to the top 3, while Johnny Cecotto and Tomi Limmonen remained outside of the top 10.

On Saturday qualifying went on under dry conditions. Atte did well, with a 3rd and 4th place on the grid. The setup changes done to Johnny’s car for dry conditions didn’t work as expected and he could only manage a 7th and 10th place, compromising his chances of a top result. Tomi qualified 17th and 18th and was left with a lot to do during the races in order to move up the field.

It looked like the weather would stay dry for the first race, but heavy rain started to fall as the cars were on the pre-grid. Most drivers opted to change to wet tires, but at the front Mustonen and Chris van der Drift, who was on pole, stayed on slicks. This proved to be a bad decision, as they both lost a lot of places in the start. Atte did the best he could during the race and came home in 10th place.

Cecotto lost a lot of time to the front runners in the first laps, as he was locked in battle with other cars. When he had a clear track in front of him he put in a series of very consistent laps, and was able to catch up with the drivers in front. Unfortunately it was too late for overtaking, and he finished 6th, just behind Helmert van der Slik and Brendon Hartley.

Tomi Limmonen was having a good race, and was already in the Top 10 when he spun off.

The Sunday race was pretty much decided on the first lap for the 3 Koiranen bros. Motorsport drivers:

Atte had a superb start and was leading the field going into the first corner. He ran wide, unfortunately, and lost a lot of places. He finished the race in 6th place.

Johnny also got into trouble in the first corner, as his front wing was broken by a spinning car. He did a great job keeping the damaged car on the track during the entire race, was still able to overtake two cars and finished 8th.

Tomi had a jump start, and received a drive-through penalty for it, ending his chances of a good Sunday result.

From Germany the team goes almost directly to The Netherlands, where the 4th round of the North European Championship will take place in the high speed track of Zandvoort.

Björn Wirdheim

Björn’s comments on Day 3:

“The weather conditions during the race were even worse than at the previous race at Suzuka. We started in wet conditions but had to switch to dry tyres as soon as we possibly could. We ran the remainder of the race on dry tyres but half way through it started raining again. It was probably the most difficult race I’ve ever driven due to the weather, we had to stay out on slicks in the rain hoping that it would stop before it became impossible to continue. Some drivers switched back to rain tyres again and when the circuit was at its worst they were lapping 2-3 seconds quicker than us. But it eventually stopped raining and started drying and we were at an advantage again,”

“Unfortunately I lost out on a podium finish with two laps remaining. I didn’t realize Motoyama was closing as fast on us as he did and when I started pushing again I made a small mistake and ran wide. I managed to hang on to third but unfortunately I was on the wet part of the circuit braking into turn three. Motoyama got by as I skipped through the gravel and after that there wasn’t much I could do”

“Still, we scored points, we were the best Honda powered car and out of three races so far in the season we’ve never finished worse than fourth. So it’s looking pretty good and I’m pleased with our progress. The team did a very good job, once again we had a trouble free weekend and our pit stop was once of the quickest.”

Anders KrohnTwo days ago, Anders Krohn got his first points in the JTCC by finishing 5th. One day ago he continued the feat and finished 6th at swedish Karlskoga. ”Im quite happy with the results” was Krohn`s immediate reaction.

Krohn came to rounds 3 and 4 better prepared than the first two rounds. ”This time I got four stints behind the wheel before going to qualifying.” But when it was time for qualifying, brake problems emerged and Anders could only finish 8th.

Race 1 went very well and Anders captured 4 points by finishing 5th. ”The first race went very well and I was happy with my position as it was my ambition to finish top 6.” Race 2 was a bit more trouble filled and despite being in 2nd place for some laps, Krohn had to settle for 3 points and 6th. ”I was a bit disappointed with the outcome of race 2 since I was up to 2nd place, but I simply didn`t have enough speed to finish higher than 6th”. Yet still Krohn is satisfied with his weekend. ”All in all I can`t complain. I reached my ambition of being top 6 in both races, and the progression has been great. Maby we can go even higher next time out!” a happy Anders Krohn finishes.

Rounds 5 and 6 of the championship will be held at Mantorp Park, June 17th and 18th.

There is an old Motorsport saying: “It doesn’t matter how much you win by, crossing the line first it’s all that matters.”

Adelaide based Team BRM driver Ben Clucas lived up to the old adage at the weekend following one of the closest rounds in the history of the 2006 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star, held at Phillip Island last weekend.

The 21-year-old driver won both races at the 4.45km Circuit two hours South-East of Melbourne, an event that featured the first full-wet race for the Australian Championship for over a year as intermittent rain swept across the circuit throughout the day.

After scoring two poles in Qualifying – the Race two pole by one of the closest margins in series history, 0.0069s – Clucas’ Team BRM / Gawler Farm Machinery Dallara F304 Spiess was completely dominant on race day despite not making the best start in each race.

Race one was the most extraordinary performances of the day, Clucas stealing a win in an event – and a driving performance – that will be remembered for years to come.

In wet conditions, the Team BRM car dropped to second at the start, passing Michael Trimble at the end of the opening lap just before a safety car was called to the circuit to recover a stranded car.

As the Safety car was removed from the circuit three laps later, Clucas was shown the black flag for a jumped start, serving a drive through penalty that left the Team BRM Dallara 5th and some 30 seconds behind the leaders with just eight laps to run in the fourteen lap event.

Clucas’ complete mastery of the conditions and a well set up car saw the #84 car lap upwards of five seconds faster than anyone on the circuit, the British driver scything his way to third before another safety car closed him right to the back of the leaders: Trimble and Tim Macrow.

With a lap left to play following the removal of the safety car Clucas shot passed Macrow on the run into Turn four before setting out after Trimble.

Pegging the leader exactly three seconds on the final lap alone, Clucas drew alongside his season-long championship rival as the pair exited the final corner to begin a drag race to the line.

Barely separated by 30 centimeters, the pair went toe to toe towards the line only for Clucas to win by the closest margin in Australian Formula 3 History – 0.0039s – following a remarkable performance.

The second race was slightly more straightforward, Clucas scoring another win by a slightly larger margin – three seconds – despite once again being forced to pass plenty of cars before hitting the front after a cautious start.

The results have given Clucas and Team BRM a stronger lead in the chase for the CAMS Gold Star, extending his margin from 16 to 28 points after three rounds.

Team BRM owner Bronte Rundle was justifiably elated with the results.

“What an incredible day it’s been,” he said.

“That was one of the great drives. Ben and the car were just faultless in the wet and the race one performance was just masterful. To have two wins from two starts is a great performance from our driver and from our team, who have worked very hard to give Ben a good car this weekend.

“The guys have hard to work extra hard on the car this weekend and the results repay that hard work.

“Now we can head into our home round of the championship at Mallala with an extended Championship lead as we look to give Ben the championship he keeps proving that he deserves.”

The next round of the 2006 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star will be held at Mallala Raceway, Team BRM’s Home circuit, in a month’s time.

The BMW national teams experienced two difficult FIA World Touring Car Championship races at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. Local hero Andy Priaulx of BMW Team UK and BMW Team Germany’s Dirk Müller scored a total of five championship points.

The other BMW drivers left the classic race venue empty-handed. Yvan Muller claimed victory in the first race, Alain Menu was on the highest step of the podium after the second race.

“This has been a disappointing race weekend for us,” said BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, who followed both race from the pit lane. “Obviously we had less grip than our competitors in the wet. That was also the reason for Andy’s off-track moment in the second race which cost him a possible race win. We are now set to return to the top at our home event at Oschersleben – and we want to regain the championship lead there.”

On a wet track, Priaulx and Dirk Müller fought a fascinating duel for eighth position in race one. When the red lights went off, Dirk Müller got past Priaulx. However, the reigning World Champion remained in the rear mirrors of his brand-mate on the following laps and passed him on lap 11 at the end of the start-finish straight, thus securing pole position for race two. From their poor grid positions, the other BMW national team drivers fought their way back up through the field. Alessandro Zanardi of BMW Team Italy-Spain improved from 17th to 10th position, his team-mate, Marcel Costa, worked up from 19th to 11th place. BMW Team Germany’s Jörg Müller delivered a strong performance after starting from 20th on the grid. On lap 10, however, he was forced to enter the pits following a collision with Augusto Farfus jr, who he had just overtaken for 12th position. In the repair break between the two races, the Schnitzer crew changed the rear axle of his BMW 320si WTCC.

Before the start of the second race, conditions worsened again, with heavy rain showers soaking the track. The race started in a turbulent manner: First, Priaulx defended his lead, then, an accident for Robert Huff brought the safety car into play. At the re-start at the beginning of lap six, Priaulx’s hopes for a race win in front of his home crowd suffered a decisive blow, when he lost control of the car in the Paddock Hill corner and went through the gravel. He made it back onto the track, but the lead had gone to Menu.

Dirk Müller took the chequered flag in sixth position. The drivers of BMW Team Italy-Spain both were on their way to scoring championship points. At the end of the day, however, they were not rewarded for their strong performances. While running in seventh place, Costa spun off the track on lap 10 and retired. Two laps later, Zanardi lost his eighth position to Priaulx. Following the repair work on his car, Jörg Müller struggled with the balance of his BMW in race two. On lap six he headed back into the pits and retired as well.

BMW Motorsport

Rodolfo AvilaAt the second round of the Lloyds TSB Insurance British Formula 3 Championship round at Donington Park young Macanese Rodolfo Avila made history when he astutely conquered “Pole-Position” in National Class – the first time ever for an Asian racing driver. In the rainy second British season’s weekend Avila secured a double 4th on National Class and moved up to 4th on the class championship.

In Qualifying one Rodolfo Avila was incredibly the fastest National Class driver and in Qualifying two he secured the 3rd position in the grid. “The Pole was fantastic for me and for all my team crew. I believe It was possible to do better in the second qualifying but the tyres were destroyed very soon and hadn’t many clean laps to get a proper time. Anyway I am extremely happy with my achievement”.

With the meeting affected by changeable weather, and often extremely wet, the two rounds took place in very alike conditions. In race one, Avila had a difficult start, especially after being almost hit by Keiko Ihara at the start which left him in the end of the field. “Race didn’t go very well at all. Conditions were really bad as for all of us but I don’t feel comfortable in wet yet. I did a bad start and couldn’t lap on my opponent’s times“, he held.

The rain was present during the whole weekend at Donington Park and was still there at the start of the second race. Unfortunately, Avila made a mistake on a Safety Car lap and ran up the rear of his Performance Racing team-mate, Finnish driver Juho Annala. The result was a dreadfully mangled front wing for himself. The Macanese driver was utterly mortified afterwards, despite having been able to return to the battle. He finished 4th, although this was a disappointment to ex-Asia Formula Renault 2.0. Champion, who was clearly quicker than the result suggested. Avila was naturally despondent after his frustrating Sunday, but remains confident that he has the ability to succeed once his luck changes. “I’m a little bit disappointed. It was a mistake. I’m sorry Juho! I didn’t get a good start again but I could recover some positions after two/three laps. When the track was getting dry and I was lapping quite fastly the Safety car entered and then the accident happened. I hope the season’s start bad luck leave me alone now”, said the driver sponsored by Macau Government, Rio Casino, Hotel Fortuna,, BNU, Gain Well Group, Tong-Lei, CESL-Asia, PAL – Asia Consult, RP MACAU, CTM, Tsingtao Beer, Fat Siu Lau Restaurant, PT Asia and Sujika Crafts.

After another arduous race weekend Avila now hold fourth position in the National Class championship.

The Macau driver’s next outing will be the French double-header rounds in Pau’s street circuit on June 3-6, an event very similar to Macau Grand Prix.

Allan SimonsenA completely unpredictable day at Victoria’s Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit has seen Allan Simonsen become the first multiple round winner of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship.

Three different drivers scored race wins in this weekend’s fourth championship round, three races held in difficult and changeable wet / dry conditions and producing some scintillating racing amongst a competitive field.

Simonsen, series stalwart John Teulan and D’Arcy Russell shared the wins today, Russell tasting his first success since Phillip Island last August, whilst Teulan’s win in race two was his first ever in Australian GT Racing after five years of trying.

The day’s drama started early, defending champion Bryce Washington’s ADRAD Racing Porsche needing a replacement engine following a failure at the end of Saturday’s qualifying session.

A replacement power plant was sourced from Porsche Australia’s office in Melbourne, the team working right through the night to have the car race-ready by approximately 4am Sunday morning to ensure the South Australian’s title hopes remained alive.

Simonsen scored a win, fifth and second-place results respectively today to win the round; his race two result thanks to a drive through penalty after the Danish superstar was judged to have jumped the re-start following a safety car period.

The locally-based Ferrari led a majority of the final race before being overhauled by the Dodge Viper GTS ACR of D’Arcy Russell with a few laps remaining.

“It is satisfying to come back and win,” Simonsen said following the third race today.

“Conditions were very tricky today because it was changing between being wet and dry for a lot of the day. I drove to the conditions and what the car was capable of in its state this weekend so it was good to get this result.”

Teulan’s win in race two came on the Australian debut of the Ferrari F430 Challenge, the Queenslander leading home Stuart Kostera (driving Maher Algadri’s Porsche GT3 Cup Car) following a close race long duel.

Teulan had also been under pressure from Championship leader Greg Crick, who was holding second until a final lap spin cost him a podium finish.

“It’s just fantastic, really brilliant,” Teulan enthused.

“I actually thought that I was second and that Allan was miles down the road until well after the race. Considering that the car is missing the GT3 Aerodynamics, and we haven’t been able to adjust the suspension this weekend it is an awesome result.

“The car was fantastic in the rain and I’m over the moon!” he said.

It was a strong weekend for the brand new Ferrari’s, David Stevens taking his similar F430 to some equally strong performances today, his best result coming in the second race when he charged his way through the pack to finish third.

“The car is just so strong and I’m ecstatic with the way it’s performed this weekend,” the Brennan IT supported driver said.

“I’m really excited about it’s potential and to come out of the box like we have today is just brilliant. It’ll be even better with the new body kit and some more development.”

D’Arcy Russell’s win in the third race came after a storming drive from the back of the grid, Fuel pick up problems leaving the local’s Viper stranded in the second race today.

Russell stormed to an eight-second win and has provisionally become the sixth different race winner from eleven races held to date.

Although the final results of the final race are dependent on the outcome of a stewards hearing to be held at Mallala next month, Russell was delighted to come through with the win.

“I passed I don’t know how many cars so I’m delighted, really delighted,” he said.

“I couldn’t hear the crew on the radio properly so I wasn’t sure where I was running, so I just kept at it – to come away with a race win is great.”

Porsche ace James Koundouris consolidated his position as a top three regular this season with a consistent performance this weekend, a competitive performance notching him two thirds and a fourth in the three races respectively.

Impressively, Koundouris improved on his third overall performance he scored two weeks ago at Oran Park by scoring second overall this weekend.

Greg Crick was able to build his championship lead despite dramas this weekend, uncharacteristic spins in the second and third races relegating him to equal fourth for the round this weekend in his Speed Energy Drink supported Dodge Viper.

His cause was aided by a tough weekend for Washington, who’s Porsche was found to be a mere 3kg underweight, and then excluded, following the first race – thought to be a byproduct of the new engine installation.

Bryce scored consistent sixth and seventh-placed finishes in the final two races to keep his points tally ticking over.

Stuart Kostera impressed in his Porsche GT3, tying with Crick for fourth overall in his championship debut thanks to a trio of strong performances, whilst local Sven Burchartz stormed to fourth in the final race – and a top eight round result – in his similar Porsche.

The next round of the championship will be held at Mallala Raceway, near Adelaide, in a month’s time.

For more information about the Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship please visit

Championship Points following Round 4 of 8.
1. Greg Crick 333
2. Bryce Washington 280
3. James Koundouris 254
4. John Teulan 216
5. Allan Simonsen 200

Round Results -Round 4, Phillip Island
(Please note, points and results are provisional at this time)

1. Allan Simonsen (Ferrari) 96
2. James Koundouris (Porsche) 81
3. John Teulan (Ferrari) 76
4. Greg Crick (Viper) 71
5. Stuart Kostera (Porsche) 71

Photo by Klynsmith Photo

Ben ClucasBritish driver Ben Clucas has won a thrilling and dramatic third round of the 2006 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star at Phillip Island today, in wet and cold conditions.

Clucas, 21, scored two race wins today in a record setting weekend of Australian Formula 3 competition that is set to be remembered for years to come thanks to its unparalleled drama and frenetic racing at the 4.45-km Phillip Island circuit.

Clucas won this morning’s opening 14-lap event – contested on a wet circuit – after being judged to have rolled at the start and serving a drive through penalty.

The Team BRM / Gawler Farm Machinery Dallara had taken the lead of the race at the end of the first racing lap, Michael Trimble (#10 King Springs / Astuti Motorsport Dallara) having made the best possible start before dropping back to second early in the running.

A safety car at the end of the opening lap to retrieve Brian Sampson from the Siberia sand trap slowed the field, racing getting underway three laps later with Clucas escaping to a solid lead before serving his drive through penalty – that promptly dropped him to fifth.

What followed was a stunning charge through the field, the clearly web-footed Clucas lapping five seconds a lap quicker than anyone as he scythed his way towards the front.

A safety car with four laps remaining – to remove Maher Algadri’s damaged Dallara following a collision with Ricky Occhipinti – also played into Clucas’ hands, the top three (Trimble leading Macrow and Clucas) line astern when the race restarted with a lap remaining.

Trimble made a strong restart, whilst Clucas slipped past Macrow on the run towards the Turn four hairpin.

The championship leader then closed on Trimble with two corners remaining, sliding alongside the Victorian as the pair ran to the flag.

What followed was a classic finish, Trimble pushing the Clucas machine to the inside of the racetrack as the pair crossed the line side by side.

Clucas was scored as the winner – crossing the line an incredible .0039s ahead of Trimble in the closest finish in Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship history.

The second, 10 lap, race was slightly less dramatic, Clucas scoring a win following strong passing moves on both Macrow and Trimble (Who had started from the back of the field thanks to qualifying dramas yesterday) to record a slightly more comfortable half-second victory.

Macrow and Trimble disputed second place, the positions swapping a number of times before the Astuti Motorsport driver wrapped up the position with a few laps remaining.

“It’s been a great day,” enthused Clucas this afternoon.

“The first race was great and the car was perfect. I was able to push really hard and chased the leader down in the first race. It doesn’t really matter what the margin is, the main thing is that we won the race!

“I was quite cautious in the second race (on a drying track) but the car handled well and we were able to win.” He said.

“A really tough weekend,” Trimble said.

“We really struggled with the wet weather setup in the first race and just did everything we could to hold on in front.

“It’s disappointing because we really wanted to go well here but it just didn’t happen. We can catch Clucas at Mallala so we’ll see how we go there.”

Victorian Tim Macrow scored a pair of third place results in what was a promising performance from the privateer competitor, racing competitively with the leaders at what is his home circuit.

Leanne Tander (#42 Fleetcare Tander Sport Dallara F304) scored her two best race finishes of the season, showing consistently improving pace to net two fourth place finishes.

Following her strong performance yesterday, Tander’s performance today bodes well for the remainder of the season as the Melbourne resident looks to become the first ever Female to win a Gold Star race in the awards 50-year history

“I thought I could catch Tim in that second race,” She said following race two.

“We have been a lot closer to the leading pace this weekend and I think that we can continue to build on this weekends result at Mallala, where we have done plenty of testing.”

Chris Gilmour scored more championship points with a pair of fifth place finishes, the weekend highlight coming from his race two start – he went from third to the race lead on the run towards turn one.

Ricky Occhipinti dominated the Kumho Tyres National Class competition, The Geelong based driver surviving contact with Maher Algadri in the opening race to finish sixth outright, whilst seventh outright in the second event was enough to give him maximum championship points for the class.

Chris Barry scored second, with Maher Algadri and John Boothman both having troubled weekends in the class.

Lauren Gray continues to lead the Trophy Class following a consistent performance this weekend; however the standout performance came from experienced campaigner Graeme Holmes, who raced with the leaders in the second race following a decision to run wet Tyres on the drying circuit.

Ben Clucas now leads the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 championship for the CAMS Gold Star by 28 points as the series heads to South Australia’s Mallala Raceway in a Months time.

For more information head to

Championship Points / Outright

1. Ben Clucas 120
2. Michael Trimble 92
3. Tim Macrow 62
4. Chris Alajajian 52
5. Leanne Tander 50
6. Chris Gilmour 45

National Class
1. Ricky Occhipinti 103
2. Chris Barry 39
3. Tim Berryman 38
4. Maher Algadri 35

Trophy Class
1. Lauren Gray 88
2. Rod Anderson 73
3. Bill Maddocks 55
4. Graeme Holmes 44

Photo by Klynsmith Photo

Allan SimonsenAllan Simonsen has scored an emphatic pole position following today’s 20-minute qualifying session for round four of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship at Phillip Island.

The Dane needed only three laps to bank a benchmark time of 1m35.5093s to score pole position, just a tenth ahead of current Championship leader Greg Crick and a mere two tenths up on Porsche ace Bryce Washington, leaving three different manufacturers inside an intensely competitive top three.

Simonsen’s pole was the first for Ferrari this season, the Italian manufacturer becoming the third different marque to take top spot in qualifying this year following earlier successes for Porsche and Dodge.

“We did only what we needed to do,” said Simonsen.

“The lap I did was good enough to put me in front which was really good. You can’t ask for any more than that.”

Crick took his Speed Energy Drink-supported Dodge Viper GTS ACR to second position, conserving his Tyres early in the day before banking a competitive 1m35.62s lap to once again sit on the front row of the grid.

The important fact for the Tasmanian driver was that he will start tomorrow’s opening race ahead of defending champion Bryce Washington – his closest rival for the championship to date.

Washington held provisional pole position for a majority of today’s 20-minute qualifying run, only bumped off the top spot by Simonsen and then Crick with less than five minutes remaining in the session.

“We banked a time early and then went to the pits to wait and see what the others could do,” the South Australian Porsche GT3 Cup Car driver said.

“It worked for us at Oran Park (where he scored Pole Position) but unfortunately the Ferrari and Crick were able to get out and bump us back to the second row. The car is pretty good so we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes in the racing tomorrow.”

Canberra-based driver James Koundouris (Dare Coffee Shots Porsche GT3 Cup Car) will start fourth tomorrow, whilst David Wall took his Kerrick Industrial supported Porsche GT3 RSR to fifth.

An impressive performance today was produced by West Australian driver Stuart Kostera – who has taken over the driving duties of the Porsche regularly steered by Maher Algadri.

Kostera – a former Australian Formula Ford race winner – improved consistently throughout today’s session and looks to be a force tomorrow.

An impressive debut came from the Ferrari F430 Challenge of David Stevens, the New South Welshman taking his Brennan IT supported car to a strong eighth place result today on the cars debut.

Stevens – who has plenty of experience racing Porsches – banked a 1m37.94s lap today signaling that the awesome new Ferrari has a significant amount of potential ready to be unleashed on the Australian GT Championship field.

“The car is great and it’s really good to have it on track,” Stevens enthused following qualifying.

“It’s still running in Challenge specifications so it doesn’t have nearly as much downforce compared to what I’m used to with the old Porsche.

“It was a bit hairy going over Lukey Heights – moving all over the road – so when we get the GT3 aero kit on the car it will be awesome.

“Yesterday was the first time, really, that I’ve had a good look at the car so to be eighth on debut is fantastic!” he enthused.

John Teulan – also running a brand new F430 Challenge – posted 11th best time today, just half a second off Stevens’ best.

Viper driver D’Arcy Russell and fellow local driver Max Twigg completed today’s competitive top ten.

Failing to make the qualifying session today was the Porsche of Paul Tresidder, who had a large shunt coming onto the high-speed start finish straight in the second practice session.

The New South Wales-based driver dropped a wheel off the circuit, the soft grass causing the car to spray across the circuit and into the pit straight wall.

The Porsche sustained severe damage to both the front and rear, the driver emerging unscathed despite the ferocity of the shunt.

Tomorrow’s fourth round of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship will mark the half way point of the season, the field looking to find the fourth different winner from four rounds this season.

Three races will be held tomorrow, each 12 laps in duration.

For more information please visit

Top Times – Qualifying

1. Allan Simonsen (Ferrari F360 GT) 1m35.5093

2. Greg Crick (Dodge Viper GTS ACR) 1m35.6222

3. Bryce Washington (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m35.7806

4. James Koundouris (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m36.6863

5. David Wall (Porsche GT3 RSR) 1m37.0757

6. Stuart Kostera (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m37.4721

7. John Kaias (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m37.5686

8. David Stevens (Ferrari F430 Challenge) 1m37.9467

9. D’Arcy Russell (Dodge Viper GTS ACR) 1m38.2488

10. Max Twigg (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m38.5007

Ben ClucasSix-one thousandths of a second was all it took for British driver Ben Clucas to take a pair of pole positions in today’s qualifying sessions for round 3 ofthe 2006 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship.

The British driver’s first double pole effort came following one of theclosest ever Qualifying day’s recorded in Australian Formula 3 history, poledecided by well under two tenths of a second in both sessions, with Clucas’last-ditch Qualifying two pole scored by .0069s.

Following an engine change yesterday, Clucas’ powered his Team BRM / GawlerFarm Machinery Dallara F304 – Spiess to a stunning 1m26.5783s lap inQualifying one this morning – some three tenths underneath the existingFormula 3 qualifying record, and over half a second underneath the existingrace record.

“I’ve always seemed to miss out on pole in the second qualifying session sofar this year, so to get both poles is really good,” Clucas said thisafternoon.

“The car felt really good in the first session and I think the lap was justabout perfect. The second session wasn’t quite as good but we did only what wehad to do to get pole.

“It’s really good and I’m very happy with the day,” he said.

Dramas struck Astuti Motorsport driver Michael Trimble, the Melbournian havingan engine failure towards the end of the opening qualifying session – aproblem that would keep the King Springs supported Dallara out of the secondsession and relegate the championship contender to the back of the grid forrace two.

Tim Macrow was an agonizing .0069s away from scoring his first pole of hisseason this afternoon, the Victorian driver holding top spot for a majority ofthe session before Clucas’ stunning lap relegated him to second with just twominutes remaining in the session.

The result marks Macrow’s best session result of the 2006 year, and ablybacked up his forth place scored in this morning’s race one qualifying.

“We really wanted to come back here and race because it’s a circuit where weknow that this car is a weapon here,” 22-year-old Macrow said.

“We struggled a bit in the first session but it was a heap better inQualifying two. We’re looking pretty good for tomorrow and I think we shouldbe pretty competitive in the races.

“You never like to miss out on a pole by that amount,” he added. “But at leastwe know that we are competitive and quicker than all of the other contendersbar one.

Queensland’s Chris Gilmour scored a pair of third place results, thefamily-run Gilmour Racing team posting a consistent and much improvedperformance today following a tough debut of their new Dallara F304 at SymmonsPlains a month ago.

Leanne Tander posted her best Qualifying performance of the season today, asolid sixth in Qualifying one backed up by a strong fourth in the secondsession.

The Fleetcare Tander Sport driver was just .18 from pole this afternoon, theDallara F304 well within striking distance of the front row pair.

“I like the racing,” Tander smiled this afternoon.

“It’s a much better performance from us this weekend. Although we are a in asimilar position to where we have been in the last two rounds, we are only twotenths from pole which is much better.

“I think the car will be really good in the races. It should be verycompetitive at the top.” She said.

Ricky Occhipinti topped the National Class today, lapping well within a secondof the leaders to post fifth outright results in both sessions at PhillipIsland.

The Geelong driver holds a strong lead in the National Class standings andwill be looking to challenge for outright podium honors tomorrow following hisstrong practice and qualifying effort shown today.

Chris Barry was next best of the National Class competitors, whilst MaherAlgadri and John Boothman also posted strong results today in what is shapingup to be a competitive class battle this weekend.

Graeme Holmes was the pick of the Trophy Class bunch this weekend, posting seventh and sixth place results outright today in an extremely competitive performance.

Australian racing icon Brian Sampson made his return to championship competition this weekend and was second and third in the two sessions respectively today.

Rod Anderson, Bill Maddocks and Lauren Gray also posted strong results in the Trophy Class.

Clucas’ two poles give him an additional two championship points at the top ofthe table, stretching his lead over Michael Trimble to 18 points heading intothis weekend’s third championship round.

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Qualifying 1 – Top Five
1. Ben Clucas 1m26.5783
2. Michael Trimble + 0.2292
3. Chris Gilmour + 0.4599
4. Tim Macrow + 0.4776
5. Ricky Occhipinti + 0.8058

Qualifying 2 – Top Five
1. Ben Clucas 1m27.5313
2. Tim Macrow + 0.0069
3. Chris Gilmour + 0.1662
4. Leanne Tander + 0.1822
5. Ricky Occhipinti + 0.7114