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Archive for November, 2006

Asher JohnstonAsher Johnston has capped off a remarkable debut year in the Victorian State Formula Ford Championship by finishing second at Phillip Island’s final round, at the weekend.

19-year-old Johnston, from Glenelg in Adelaide, backed up his round five win just a month ago with his weekend success at the 4.46km circuit’s traditional end of season Island Magic weekend, ending his first full year in a Formula Ford on a high note.

The round result also secured Johnston third in the Victorian title, a storming second half of the season elevating him up the order to the podium finish – backing up his championship win in the Victorian Formula Vee title twelve months ago.

The final round started in difficult circumstances when Johnston’s #18 G-Force Mygale entry suffered niggling technical problems throughout Saturday’s 20-minute qualifying session, relegating the team to a 11th place starting position some two seconds behind the pole mark.

Safe in the knowledge that his car was quick, however, Johnston went on a charge in the first race later that afternoon surviving a carnage filled affair – that was shortened to just three laps – to finish six places higher than where he started, in fifth place.

Using that as a launching pad for Sunday, Johnston was engaged in an ultra-close four car battle for the lead in race two, eventually finishing fourth, just one-tenth behind third placed Kristian Lindbom and under half a second behind the winner.

The final race – the traditional season ending Jayair Phillip Island Formula Ford Trophy – was a thriller, Johnston involved in a three-car dice for the lead with Taz Douglas and Glen Wood for the first eight of ten laps.

After passing Wood, Johnston and Douglas continued their battle from the previous round and once again went side-by-side to the line, with Johnston’s year-long rival getting across the line just 3/100s ahead.

“It was just an amazing weekend, what a way to end the year,” said Johnston.

“The weekend started out being very difficult with the little problems we were having in Qualifying but once we got it going the way it should have been it was an absolute rocketship.

“The first race was tough and I was fortunate to survive an off track excursion in one piece to get to the flag. On Sunday the racing was just very close and very competitive but in the end we were able to get to the front.

“It was a shame to miss the win like that but we’ve had closer finishes this season!” he said.

With third in the championship locked away Johnston has firmed as one of the fastest young drivers in the country, his impressive pace shown – especially at the end of the year – throughout the 2006 season ensuring that Johnston will be one to watch in 2007.

“It’s been such a huge year,” Johnston said.

“I have to thank my crew because they have just done such a wonderful job all season long. Without their support, and the support of G-Force Mygale and my other sponsors this wouldn’t have been possible.

“The year has exceeded my wildest expectations. We knew stepping up into a Formula Ford from the Vee would take some time, some patience and a lot of learning and I probably didn’t expect to be in a position to consistently challenge for race wins so early in the year.

“It’s just been such a fantastic year and this is a great feeling to take with me on my trip overseas this week.” He enthused.

Johnston is now en-route to the Mygale factory in France, taking in a two-week trip to Europe with G-Force Mygale Australia owner Greg Woodrow on a fact-finding mission.

Johnston will visit the Mygale HQ in France and will also take the time to visit England in the process.

Asher Johnston and the entire AJR Team would like to thank the support of their sponsors for the 2006 racing season, including G-Force Mygale, Richards Auto, Cartek Sales & Service, Check it Out Graphics and Duplex IT, as well as those who participated in the “Check it out’ campaign.

Gary Holt

Century 21 Racing yesterday used caution and consistency at Eastern Creek Raceway to cap off a remarkable year and finally secure driver Garry Holt his first STS Turbo Australian Performance Car Championship title.

In his fourth full year contesting the championship in the Century 21 Real Estate Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII, Holt qualified on pole and then finished the two races to ensure that he took home the title.

The result caps of a remarkable run for the team, having already secured two seconds and a third place in the championship prior to this season.

In the 19-race championship year Holt won 7 races, finishing inside the top three a total of 11 times and never finishing outside of the top ten. Holt also scored four pole positions this year and never qualified outside of the top four.

Holt’s final winning margin was 22 points after he finished a safe seventh and sixth in the two Eastern Creek races respectively – doing only what he needed to ensure the championship title was his.

After a turbulent season and many years of trying, Holt was justifiably pleased following the conclusion of the championship yesterday.

“I have to thank Century 21 Real Estate for their three years of support to our racing program, they have been fantastic sponsors,” Holt said following the final race.

“I also need to thank Charles Tarby from Century 21 and our other sponsors for their support – Eastern Creek International Karting Raceway, Elf, 2UE, Orix, Croyden Racing Developments and Sarina Smash Repairs, and also Mitsubishi for their support.

“The first aim for this weekend was to get pole position. Those three points we scored gave us the buffer we needed to win the championship by just finishing the races on Sunday. We decided that if we were to take the risk and start the races from there, was a chance that we could have won the round – but the downfall was that we’ve done axles at the start before and would have risked being taken out.

“We had to weigh up all the options – we’ve had tyre blowouts in the past at Eastern Creek – so in the end we decided to take the sensible approach and start from pit lane, run behind the others and just get to the finish.” He said.

Holt offered testament to his crew as the team has clearly become the most consistently successful outfit in Performance Car Racing.

“Our crew has just done a fantastic job preparing the car and I need to thank them for their hard work over the season,” Holt said.

“In the past we have finished third in the championship and been second twice, so to win here is just fantastic. It means a lot.”

The Eastern Creek round marked Holt’s last start in the Performance Car Championship, the team going in a new direction next season by confirming today their intention to purchase a BMW 335i Turbo to contest the returning Bathurst 12 hour race, as well as the Australian Production Car Championship and other selected events in 2007.

Century 21 Racing and Garry Holt gratefully acknowledge the support of Century 21 Real Estate, Orix, 2UE, Eastern Creek International Karting Raceway, Croyden Racing Developments, Elf Oil and Sarina Smash Repairs.

Rodolfo AvilaMacau motorsport rising star Rodolfo Avila had an unlucky weekend at his hometown event the Macau Grand Prix. On Sunday, in the main race of FIA F3 Intercontinental Cup at Circuito da Guia, the #23 Performance Racing Dallara F306-Mügen Honda hit the barriers in the open lap. Rodolfo Avila was quite disappointed but he is now focusing on 2007 season.

During the four days of competition, Rodolfo Avila was always the fastest of the five Macanese drivers. On the 15-laps main race, he pushed hard since the “green lights” and the risk resulted in him smashing into the barriers at Fishermen’s Bend.

“I went too fast and can’t avoid the accident. I have to apologise to all my team, Macau SAR citizens and my faithful sponsors for the error I did. It wasn’t the result I wanted to give them”, held Avila.

According to several press the safety car was deployed because of wreckage on the track from a coming together between Rodolfo Avila and Paul di Resta. That is false! Both cars hadn’t a single touch during the race meeting. “I didn’t collide with Paul Di Resta. He is fast but he was far behind me in the first lap. I crashed alone and I confessed my mistake. He is looking for the wrong man”, says Avila who was surprised by his opponent comments. In the fact Paul Di Resta collided with Jonathan Kennard not with Rodolfo Avila.

The Macau SAR international motorsport ambassador is looking forward next season. “I don’t know where and what I am going to do next year. I hope to stay in F3 and in Europe. That’s the place where I can develop my career. I have to give huge thanks to this people: Macau Government, Hotel Fortuna, Rio Casino, Macau-Slot.com, BNU, Gain Well Group, Tong-Lei, CESL-Asia, PAL – Asia Consult, RP Macau, Tsingtao Beer, Fat Siu Lau Restaurant, PT Asia, Sujika Crafts, China Unicom (Macau), Chubb and 2nd Asian Indoor Games 2007. They did an enormous effort to support me this year”.

In high-level motorsport the work never stops. Rodolfo Avila hopes to start 2007 preparation very soon.

Ana BeatrizYesterday at the Alpha Theater, in São Paulo, the 10th edition of the Gold Helmet Award was held. Considered the Oscar of Brazilian motoring, the event congregated more than 500 people, drivers, entrepreneurs and journalists. 48 award-winnings in 14 categories, 80 journalists had participated of the election of the best ones of the year.

One of the special moments of the night was the prize given by the São Paulo City hall to the drivers who was born in the city. The Sao Paulo Citizen Driver was delivered by Mr. Heraldo Correa, Municipal Secretary of Sports Leisure and Recreation. Bia Figueiredo, Chico Serra, Felipe Massa, Helio Castroneves, Ingo Hoffmann and Rubens Barrichello were the award-winning drivers.

In the previous edition, Bia Figueiredo, Suzane Carvalho, Fernanda Parra and Débora Rodrigues won Gold Helmet Award for their great perfomances on brazilians tracks.

In 2001, Bia who her first Gold Helmet as the best brazilian driver.

After the two-day test in Magny Cours, the Team Prema moved directly in Tuscany, and more precisely at the International circuit of Mugello for another day of Free practice in view of preparing the 2007 season. Once again all three drivers of the Vicenza based Team were Henki Waldschmidt, Martin Plowman and Italian Andrea Caldarelli. From the beginning they were competitive and did a good work with very interesting chronometric results.

Fabio Zilio, Technical coordinator of the Team: “This was a very positive test day, where we tried various technical solutions. Now we go back home for a week of analysis and then we’ll go back on track before the test ban scheduled after the month of December by the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup Sporting Regulations.”

After the Estoril and Valencia tests, Prema Powerteam went again on track this week on the French circuit of Magny Cours for an ulterior test session in view of the 2007 season. All three drivers reacted very well, and gained confidence with this unknown track for them, in order to then optimize the set up and obtain good chronometric results.

Grazia Troncon, Team Manager of the Vicenza based Team: “I am satisfied of the work that we have done. During the tests all three drivers worked very well. There is no time to rest for the Team. Directly from Magny Cours we move to Mugello for another test day.”

In less that four days, the green light will announce the start of the 53rd Macau Grand Prix to the thirty cars arrived at the city circuit of the ex Portuguese protectorate.

This is a real World Cup, for the best drivers from the main national Championships. Prema arrived in Asia with the Japanese driver Koudai Tsukakoshi and Brazilian Roberto Streit, both coming from the Japanese Formula 3 Championship.

For Koudai it is a comeback on this track with the Team after his third place obtained with Prema last year but in the Formula Renault 2.0 support race. This will be Roberto Streit’s debut here as he has never raced in Macau before.

The Macau Grand Prix is a race defined as “one-shot” as it isn’t a race of any Championship. On Thursday and Friday there will be free practices in the morning and official practices in the afternoon. On Friday, the afternoon sessions will determine the starting grid, when the track will be in its best conditions. On Saturday, as last year, the qualifying race will take place and it will determine the starting grid for Sunday. The final race will be held on Sunday afternoon.

According to drivers and collaborators , Guia is the most difficult circuit in the world. A series of long straights alternates with winding sectors along city walls and guard-rails. This is a hard and at the same time spectacular track. The Macau Grand Prix will be broadcast live by the most important Chinese television networks and there will be special programmes on the main television channels worldwide. The results of the event will be in real time on the websites www.mstworld.com and gp.macao.grandprix.gov.mo

Angelo Rosin, Prema Team Principal declared: “The next appointment of Macao is an important occasion for drivers and teams. A good result here may pay for a whole season. All our Team have been workin g very hard to be ready for this relevant event. We must optimise our vehicles in the first two days to be prepared for the qualifying. In a circuit with this characteristics it is important to run as much as possible in order to assimilate all the secrets of the track. We have arrived here in Macau in order to make a change to this season which was much inferior to our standards. We want to show to everybody which is the real value of Prema.”

Dexion Racing’s Tim Slade continues to maintain the lead in the Australian Formula Ford Championship heading into the final round at Phillip Island in a months time.

The 20-year-old driver now leads season-long rival John Martin by three points after an up and down weekend at Tasmania’s Symmons Plains raceway that saw Slade unlucky not to come away with a much more significant points lead.

As it is the pair will now battle it out for the Australian Formula Ford championship in Victoria after tough weekends for both saw the status quo maintained heading into the final round.

Slade was the dominant force throughout practice and qualifying at the small yet fast Symmons Plains Raceway circuit near Launceston, dominating the two practice sessions on Friday by over half a second.

Slade was able to carry that form over into Saturday Qualifying, taking his Dexion-supported Sonic Motor Racing Van Diemen to a 56.2794s lap that scored him pole by just over a tenth of a second.

As an indication of how close the field was, the next three cars were covered by less than 0.1s.

The first race didn’t go to plan for the Dexion car, Slade caught up in a race-long dice with Paul Laskazeski and Martin for the lead of the race.

A late braking move from Martin on lap 10 saw him pass both the dicing leaders, Slade shuffled back to third – and then eventually fourth after a brief off-track excursion – at the line.

The second race went significantly better, a wet track producing a close battle between Slade and Dale Wood for the lead of the race.

With Martin out, a consistent Slade finished a tight second to give himself a 13-point lead in the championship heading into the final race of the day.

On a drying circuit, Slade’s car was hit by Ash Walsh in the early stages of the final 15-lap affair, damaging the wishbone on the front of the Dexion entry and relegating it to the back of the field.

Following a safety car intervention, Slade restarted only to find the throttle jammed open – sending the car into the sand trap. Despite returning to the circuit, Slade was unable to complete the race after the throttle stuck open once again later in the race – leaving Slade out by lap six.

The wash-up from the round saw Martin close the margin by just one point to the Dexion racer, with one round and three races remaining to settle the 2006 championship.

“It’s disappointing that we weren’t able to capitalize on the 13-point lead that we had in the championship following race two,” Dexion Racing’s Tim Slade said at the conclusion of today’s third race.

“It would have been nice to go to the final round leading by a bigger margin, but that’s the way the sport goes. At least we are still in the championship lead which is obviously where I’d rather be.

“It was a really tough day and certainly didn’t go the way we hoped after the pace the Dexion car showed in practice and qualifying,” Slade added.

“Unfortunately we were caught up in some other people’s incidents, and then we had the throttle problem in race three. When the throttle stuck for the first time it caught me out a bit and sent me off the track. I was able to get the car back out to circulate until the finish but when it did it again that was it.

“It certainly wasn’t the best weekend of the year but we are still in front and I think the car should go very well at Phillip Island.”

The final round of the Australian Formula Ford Championship will be held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on December 8 – 10, the event a triple-header for Dexion racing with Tony Evangelou (Fujitsu V8 Supercars), Craig Lowndes (V8 Supercar Championship) and Slade all set to take part in the weekend.

Samantha Reid has this weekend given a true indication of her performance potential after a strong showing at this weekend’s penultimate round of the Australian Formula Ford Championship, at Symmons Plains raceway.

On a completely level playing field for the first time this season, Reid scored her best ever results at this weekend’s event in Tasmania, lifting her spirits after a tough first half of the championship season and an equally tough home round at Mallala two months ago.

The 19-year-old South Australian driver scored her best ever Formula Ford result in today’s second race at the short Symmons Plains circuit, finishing seventh in wet/dry conditions this morning.

That result backed up a top ten finish scored in the first race, Reid able to race with the leading contenders in the championship thanks to the fact no team or driver had an advantage due to testing restrictions – that helped to level the playing field – at the circuit just outside of Launceston.

A lack of budget to test this season has been the only thing holding the determined driver back from running with the leaders this year.

The weekend started strongly with Reid qualifying 11th in a close session, just seven-tenths of a second outside of the front row.

The first 15-lap race went strongly, Reid making progress towards the front of the field to sit 8th with just a few laps remaining. Unfortunately, another competitor tagged the BMS Motorsport Van Diemen from behind at the notorious Symmons Plains hairpin, dropping the #42 car to 10th at the finish.

Race two was where the most progress was made, Samantha leaping to eighth in the first lap before moving into her finishing position of seventh two laps later.

This afternoon’s third and final race didn’t go quite to plan, however, difficult circuit conditions and worn rubber costing Reid a top ten position – eventually scoring 11th at the line.

“I’m generally fairly happy with the weekend, we were strong from the outset and really able to race with the leading group this weekend,” Samy said after the final race today.

“We were running eighth in the first race and things were going really well, unfortunately I just got tagged at the hairpin from behind which spun us around.

“The second race this morning was really good. I was able to make some good progress forward and I had a great dice with a couple of people. I couldn’t break away because of the slipstream but it was a good result.

“I was a bit disappointed that we couldn’t actually get any higher but I kept the car on track and was able to bring it home without getting it dirty, which is a good thing here today!” she said.

“Unfortunately we killed two front Tyres this weekend, one in an incident and one with a fault, so the car certainly wasn’t at its best in the final race.

“We didn’t have an ideal wet / dry setup and pulling the car up was pretty difficult.

“But it’s been a pretty good weekend and I think we now have a bit more confidence for the final round at Phillip Island.” She added.

The results today add to Reid’s championship point score, and elevate her further up the order in her rookie season contesting the national Formula Ford championship.

Samy Reid’s final round of the season will be in early December, at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit in Victoria.

Samantha ReidSouth Australian driver Samantha Reid will be hoping to use some familiar circuit characteristics to her advantage in this weekend’s penultimate round of the 2006 Australian Formula Ford Championship at Symmons Plains Raceway.

The circuit just outside of Launceston, in Tasmania, shares a number of similarities with Reid’s home circuit of Mallala Raceway near Adelaide – a fact both team and driver is keen to exploit this weekend.

19-year-old Reid is hoping that her strong run at her home event in August – where she showed top five potential despite suffering misfortune in the races – will see similarly strong results in the Apple Isle this weekend.

Reid had a shocking run of fortune at her home round, the most recent of the championship, suffering three non-finishes after posting her career best practice and qualifying results in this year’s competitive National Formula Ford field.

Naturally the driver nicknamed ‘Samy’ is hoping for a change of luck when she makes her first visit to Tasmania this weekend, behind the wheel of her #42 BMS Motorsport Van Diemen RF03.

“From what I have seen so far, Symmons Plains shares a couple of things with Mallala which could well be a positive for us,” she said.

“The heavy braking zone into the hairpin is similar to what we encounter at Mallala, as is the fast sweeping bend in the back straight that should see plenty of drafting – again similar to Mallala.

“Our car was the best it’s been all season at our home round so we’re hoping that the similarities between the circuits pay off for us this weekend.”

With this weekend’s event the first time the Formula Ford field has visited Tasmania for 10 years, Reid said that the level playing field will be another aid towards giving the team a strong weekend.

“Everywhere we’ve gone this year, we have been on the back foot trying to develop the setup and sort the car because we have only been to one or two circuits,” Reid explained.

“The other teams have been able to come out of the box and be quick from first practice because they have the budget to go and test. Symmons Plains should be different because everyone will have a level playing field. No one has been allowed to test here so everyone in the field will be in the same boat as us – having to sort out gear ratios and suspension settings from essentially scratch.”

Reid also predicted that this weekend’s event could well be the closest of the year, a small yet competitive field descending on a circuit that is renowned for producing some of the tightest grids of the season anywhere in Australian Motorsport.

“I think it will be very tough,” she said.

“You could be fourth or you could be fourteenth – there are no particularly slow cars in the field so it should be very tight right throughout the field. It’s a horsepower circuit but with all the cars having the same engines there won’t be much in that.

“Qualifying will be hard work, but I’m confident in our ability to race with these guys after the progress we made in race one at Mallala (before being taken out). I don’t think a top five is out of the question if things go to plan.”

This weekend’s penultimate round of the 2006 Australian Formula Ford Championship will be held in conjunction with the V8 Supercar’s Ferodo Triple Challenge event, three races set to be contested before the series embarks for its season finale at Phillip Island in early December.

Samantha Reid has had a tough debut season on the National Championship campaign; however this weekend heads into the action the best prepared since the season opener in Adelaide – where she raced into the top ten.