Tim BerrymanA third-generation farmer from Stockinbingal – near Wagga Wagga – in Regional New South Wales has taken to the race tracks of Australia in the hunt for one of Australia’s most prestigious racing awards.

Tim Berryman is this year competing in the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship National Class, a race-within-a-race for Wings and Slicks race cars in Australia’s Premier Open Wheel Championship.

The second-generation driver – a race winner in Formula Ford and Sports Cars – is currently sitting second in the championship after five rounds, trailing only experienced Victorian open wheel ace Ricky Occhipinti despite missing two rounds earlier this year.

Berryman has matched it with Occhipinti on every outing this season, winning 3 times and standing on the podium in all the other races he has contested – a strong sequence of results given his lack of experience in the category: he had only two round starts to his name in the Trophy Class prior to this season.

His best round result came at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway two weeks ago, where he scored a pair of National Class wins in the two races.

Driving the 2004 championship winning Dallara F301 prepared by experienced Engineer Ian Richards, Berryman continues to get closer to the outright contenders – including the likes of Leanne Tander, Michael Trimble and Ben Clucas – this season.

“National class is like racing in two championships at once,” he said. “If you can put a 2001 National Class car amongst the 2004 cars and teams with bigger budgets, people will notice and that is our aim.

“The cars are fantastic to drive,” he enthused. “Having driven Formula Ford, Aussie Racing Cars, Super Tourers, F4000 and more I can honestly say this is by far the most exciting car I have driven.

<p< “I’m relatively happy with my first season in Formula 3, winning National Class races and sitting 2nd in the championship despite missing two rounds is pretty good. The highlight, though, would have to be getting 4th outright and winning the National Class at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix this year.

”I’m getting more comfortable in the car and getting closer to the outright cars so the aim for the rest of the season is to win National class and hopefully a top 3 finish outright,” Berryman said.

“Tim has had a mature approach to his racing and given the experience he doesn’t have has done an excellent job this season,” said Richards, who has engineered Australian Formula 3 cars to two National titles.

“He has been very level-headed and hasn’t done anything silly like spin off or crash. He’s definitely a contender for National Class.”

With the sixth round of the championship scheduled for Phillip Island in two weeks time, Berryman is also pleased to confirm the signing of a new major sponsor for the remainder of the 2006 championship season.

Local company Delta Agribusiness will appear on the sides of his Dallara for the remainder of the year, the driver welcoming the support.

“Delta is a dynamic new business that is a great fit for our race team,” he said. “With their support I hope to take out the 2006 Kumho Tyres Formula 3 National Class Championship.”

The Phillip Island circuit – home of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix – will be host to the sixth round of the 2006 series and will mark Berryman’s first visit to the 4.46km high-speed circuit in a Formula 3 car.

The two races will be held on Sunday, August 20th, with Television coverage on SBS Speedweek and Inside Speed, on FOX Sports, in subsequent weeks.

Photo: Craill / Race Torque Photo