clucas-and-macrow-qualifying-showThe Long-running Ben Clucas and Tim Macrow Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship qualifying battle has continued today at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Victoria.

The battling pair has split the pole positions in today’s two sessions respectively as a 15-car field readies for this weekend’s sixth round of the Australian Drivers Championship to be held at the high-speed 4.46km circuit south of Melbourne.

A similarly strong run by Leanne Tander saw her score a Formula 3 career-best result in the opening session when she placed her #42 Fleetcare Tandersport Dallara F304 on the second position for tomorrow’s first race.

Out in front, however, it was a similar story as the one that unfolded at Mallala and Eastern Creek recently, with Macrow and Clucas split by mere hundredths of a second in the second session today.

The pair have traded times for a number of sessions this year, making for incredibly close qualifying sessions and also replicating the race two qualifying results seen at Eastern Creek recently.

“I’m really happy with the time,” Macrow said following the second session today, where he topped Clucas by just .02 of a second.

“It was a huge lap; I was really on the limit and had a bit of oversteer at the top of Lukey Heights. The best thing is that there was probably another few tenths in it so things are looking great for tomorrow.”

The qualifying-one top four of Clucas, Tander, Michael Trimble and Macrow were separated by just .07s, one of the closest qualifying results in the series history.

Session standout Leanne Tander’s performance marked her best effort since joining the championship almost a year ago; missing out on the pole by less than .02s in what has been a revitalized performance this weekend from the Melbourne-based driver and team.

“I am very happy,” said Tander.

“We tested last week and I think it has really given us a lot more confidence in the car this weekend. I have much more confidence in what the car is doing on track and giving feedback to the team.

“I’m confident that the car will be a good race car this weekend,” She added.

“We practiced well yesterday and put together fast, consistent runs so I think the car will be good tomorrow. It will be nice to be able to race with Ben and Tim at the front.”

Astuti Motorsport driver Michael Trimble netted a pair of fourth and third place results in today’s two sessions, respectively, both times never far from the leading pace.

“I don’t know what it is, but we just seem to be missing something that everyone else has,” Trimble said.

The championship contender’s new teammate this weekend endured a tough day, New Zealand driver Andy Knight battling electrical problems with the team’s recently imported car.

After a trouble free run yesterday, Knight scored 10th and 12th-placed results today and will be looking to charge through the field tomorrow to race with the leading group of cars.

Queenslander Chris Gilmour rounded out the top five in each session today but professed himself satisfied with a stronger performance this weekend as his family-run team continues to come to grips with his Dallara.

Ricky Occhipinti was another to battle setup dramas today yet still managed to score a pair of Kumho Tyres National Class pole positions this weekend, further extending his class lead over year-long rival Tim Berryman.

“We just went backwards between sessions today,” Occhipinti said.

“I know that the car has the pace to run with the leading group of cars so it’s really frustrating for us. We’re doing it without any data from the car so it’s hard to work out what’s going wrong. We’ll aim tomorrow to score as many points in National Class and see if we can get closer to the championship.” He said.

Berryman (#33 Delta Agriculture Dallara) and John Boothman completed the National Class top three today.

Graeme Holmes (#21 Demountables Dallara F398) scored both poles in Trophy Class today, ahead of youngster Lauren Gray and Rod Anderson in each session.

The Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star fight will continue tomorrow for a pair of 14-lap races.

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