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.

For more information please visit www.formula3.com.au

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