Michael TrimbleVictorian driver Michael Trimble has further firmed as a strong chance to win this weekend’s fourth round of the 2006 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star following a strong day of practicing at Mallala Raceway today.

21-year-old Trimble, driving his #10 King Springs / Astuti Motorsport Dallara F304 – Renault, logged a best lap of 1m04.1336 in the second session today to set the quickest time of today’s practice round.

Currently second in the Gold Star race, Trimble lead a tightly packed top five today at the 2.6km Mallala circuit an hour outside of Adelaide.

Current championship leader Ben Clucas, Tim Macrow, Chris Gilmour and Leanne Tander were all within striking distance of the pace setter today, setting things in motion for yet another ferociously competitive round of the Gold Star championship this weekend.

Clucas logged the second quickest time today, his session-one topping lap of 1m04.1786 just a few hundredths behind Trimble’s best time.

Third in both of today’s 30-minute sessions was Tim Macrow, making his championship debut with Scud Racing after running as a privateer competitor for over a year.

Macrow’s #10 Scud Racing / Dodo Dallara F301 – Spiess Opel – newly resplendent in the traditionally striking Green and Purple Scud Racing livery – currently holds the qualifying record at Mallala raceway and the Victorian driver anticipated another strong performance at the round this weekend.

“Last year we found almost a second on new Tyres between practice and qualifying,” the 22-year-old said.

“We had some minor issues with the brake pads today but aside from that the car was very good. It will be nice to give (Team owner) Bill Maddocks a good result this weekend.”

Queenslander Chris Gilmour was one of the big improvers of the day’s sessions, improving a significant amount between practice one and two.

The #17 StyroMax Dallara ended the day just half a second from the benchmark time although the driver believed that there is much more to come from both car and driver.

“We did a (rolling) lap of almost a 1m04 dead, so we know the time is in the car,” explained Gilmour.

“It’s actually going quite well. We’ve come here, like all the other places, with no data for the car so now we have some information we can make changes tonight and improve further.”

Fleetcare Tandersport driver Leanne Tander rounded out the leading bunch in the championship class with times well within a second from the quickest lap in both sessions.

A battle for National Class honors is looming between Tim Berryman and Ricky Occhipinti this weekend, both within half a second of each other in practice today.

And whilst Geelong-based Occhipinti leads the class battle by a substantial margin, Berryman’s performances today indicated that he has the pace to challenge the season-long class benchmark.

National class received a further boost today following an appearance by Stuart Kostera, a last minute addition behind the wheel of the Maher Algadri-owned Dallara F301-Mugen entry.

Kostera and Algadri were originally slated to drive recently purchased F304 Dallara’s this weekend, however transportation difficulties meant that the newer model cars will likely make their debut at Eastern Creek in a fortnight.

Graeme Holmes and Bill Maddocks lead the way in trophy Class, both drivers looking to utilize Mallala to reel in current class leader Lauren Gray.

The respective grids for this weekend’s two races – the half way point of the championship – will be set with two, 20-minute qualifying sessions tomorrow.

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