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Archive for January, 2007

Leanne TanderFleetcare TanderSport driver Leanne Tander has high hopes that the 2007 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship is hers to win.

It’s been a strong preseason for the 25-year-old driver; continuity within her TanderSport outfit, new sponsors signing up to the program and a two solid days of testing at Sydney’s Eastern Creek are all factors leaving both team and driver confident of success when the Gold Star Championship kicks off in just a weeks time.

TanderSport was formed by the Sydney born, Melbourne-based driver and her V8 Supercar driver husband Garth at the end of 2005 and gained momentum throughout last year, propelling Leanne to two podiums, ten top-ten finishes, a pole position and an eventual fifth place in the championship.

The first key part to propelling Leanne to history as the first ever female race winner in an Australian Drivers Championship event has been the confirmation that the team’s naming-rights partner, Fleetcare, has returned to the team for the 2007 season.

Fleetcare is Australia’s largest privately-owned Fleet Management companies and has been a long time supporter of both Garth and Leanne’s driving careers.

“We passionately believe in the importance of encouraging all young people to acquire and develop the skills inherent in motor sport,” said Fleetcare Managing Director Nigel Malcolm.

“Responsibility, mutual respect, prudence, intelligent risk-taking, accountability… All these characteristics are needed if you are going to succeed in life.

“By helping the careers of young drivers we try to help them inspire thousands of other young people to emulate the racing drivers’ high standards of achievement and conduct. We are proud to say that Garth and Leanne have grown into fantastic role models for young Australians – and we like to think we’ve played a part in who they are today.” He said.

The second key part aiding Leanne’s confidence has been two full days of testing at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney, the venue for next weekend’s opening championship round.

“We’re really happy with the end result of the test,” she said.

”It didn’t start out so well because we had some understeer that took a while to go out of the car, but we made some changes and by the end of the day the car was really fast, faster than we’ve ever been there before.”

With a number of strong international and locally-based drivers entered for the championship season, The Tandersport team will face their toughest opposition since joining the ranks of Formula 3 racing when the field lines up at Eastern Creek.

Despite the added competition, Tander said that it only serves to further her drive to win.

”I think it’s really exciting to have the field we have on the grid,” She said.

”As far as I can see there are going to be nine or ten cars that will be real championship contenders, some we have seen before and some we haven’t. It’s hard to judge where I might actually be until we get to Eastern Creek but I’m really looking forward to it.

”I can’t wait to race them and hopefully beat them. I gave myself a two-year timeframe when we started last year with a championship win in the second year the aim,” she added.

“Judging on our pace from the last couple of rounds last year and the test days before this season I’m pretty confident that we’ll have the car speed – and then It’ll just be a matter of me putting it together in the races, being consistently at the front so that at the end of the year we’ll be in with a shot at the championship.”

Fleetcare TanderSport’s 2007 campaign kicks off at the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport event, At Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney, on February 2 – 4.

TanderSport thank the ongoing support of their sponsors Fleetcare, HSV, Holden, Greenwood & Freehills, Valvoline, and

A last minute driver change has seen British driver Charles Hollings replace Andy Knight as Astuti Motorsport’s second confirmed driver for this years Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship.

Originally confirmed a week ago, New Zealand driver Knight has been forced to withdraw from the Astuti seat after deciding to focus on his existing campaign in his domestic Open Wheel championship.

Hollings, 24, joins fellow Brit James Winslow in an expanded English lineup in this years Gold Star points race, both surely hoping to regain some sporting honor for their homeland after an abysmal summer for the British down under.

Hollings began his career, like many others, in karting and scored many top results in both British and European karting champions between 1989 and 1998 before stepping into race cars in 1999.

Since stepping into cars he has successfully raced Formula Ford, Formula Renault and, in 2005 and 2006, Formula 3.

In 2005 Hollings finished fifth in the British F3 Championship National Class, scoring four wins, eight pole positions and twelve podium finishes racing the likes of Salvador Duran, Aussie Barton Mawer, and 2006 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Champion Ben Clucas.

Last year he contested the British F3 International series with Fortec Motorsport and scored a best finish of 7th place.

Hollings addition to the field looks set to – for now – complete the international invasion that is set to be a major focus in this years championship.

As the two representatives from Great Britain Hollings and Winslow (Piccola Scuderia) will race Italian Marco Mapelli (Team BRM) and Austrian Walter Grubmuller (Astuti) as well as leading Australian contenders Tim Macrow, Leanne Tander, Stuart Kostera, Mat Sofi and Chris Alajajian.

Astuti Motorsport team owner Sam Astuti was naturally pleased to secure Hollings for the championship season.

“We were disappointed to see Andy pull out because we had seen what he was capable of and we were looking forward to working with him again this year,” he said.

“But to be able to secure someone like Charlie at the last minute is fantastic for Astuti Motorsport and the series. Charles has gained a lot of Formula 3 experience over the last two years and I’m totally confident that he is going to be very hard to beat at Eastern Creek despite only confirming his participation a week out from the event.

“My original aim of an Astuti Motorsport 1 – 2 at the opening round stands firm!” Astuti said.

Hollings now rounds out a 19-car field for the opening round of the 2007 championship, up to nine cars expected to be contenders in what is set to be one of the most fiercely contested Australian Open Wheel championship in ages.

The series gets underway at the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport event at Eastern Creek on February 2 – 4.

Representing his home country France, CRM driver Loic Duval took part in Round 6 of this season’s A1GP as the series visited the Taupo circuit in New Zealand over the January 19-21 weekend.

Using control chassis and engines (Lola Zytec 3.4 litre V8), and bespoke Cooper tyres, the ‘World Cup of Motorsport’, which began in 2005, features a two-race format comprising of a Sprint race (the grid determined by Saturday Qualifying) and a Feature, whose grid is decided by the Sprint race results.

Although it’s his first time participating in the series, the winner of two races in the 2006 All-Japan Formula Nippon championship was immediately on the pace, setting some lightning-quick times in his rookie test on the Friday.

Loic was resolute in his driving, attacking right from the first to the fourth sessions. His talented efforts were rewarded with second place behind Team Germany driver Nico Hulkenberg. The qualifying result was the best for Team France this season. Local man Jonny Reid (Team New Zealand) rounded out the top three.

Sunday, January 21st:
The 14-lap Sprint race started at 11:00, and determined the order for the afternoon’s Feature. Loic ran without too much risk, netting a comfortable 2nd place ahead of the main event.

The 50-lap Feature race saw Loic make a brilliant start, and a fierce battle with pole-sitter Hulkenberg (Team Germany) ensued. With few overtaking points, it wasn’t possible to get ahead, though Loic attacked resolutely and repeatedly.

In the end, Loic took 2nd place, standing on the podium for the second time that weekend, the best results for Team France this season. With these results, Team France stand second in the championship with 46 points, behind leaders Team Germany on 65.

Loic Duval:
“I made a good start in both the Sprint and Feature races, though it wasn’t possible to get past Team Germany here. I decided to concentrate on keeping second place as a result. However, this also was not easy. I had Jonny Reid breathing down my neck for most of the race so I really had to keep focused throughout the entire event.

I waited for the leader to make a mistake, but that opportunity never came. On lap 29, I got ahead for a bit, but resulted in finishing second. It was good to stand once again on the podium, and it was a good race, though very physical. I’m happy because the team has risen to second place overall, and I want to thank the crew who did such a great job.”

Jean-Paul Driot (team representative):
“Loic did a wonderful job to fight for pole in the preliminary round with the much more experienced Hulkenberg. It’s an incredible job for his first participation in the series. He drove splendidly in both races, showing huge natural talent to hold off Jonny Reid in the long Feature race. His two podiums are a fantastic result. I’m absolutely thrilled with his performance.”

The international invasion of Australia’s most prestigious open-wheel championship will continue in 2007 with Astuti Motorsport today confirming the signing of Austrian speedster Walter Grubmuller for the opening round of the 2007 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship.

Grubmuller, 17, comes highly rated to the Melbourne-based outfit fresh from a short stint in the Asian Formula 3 Championship late in 2006.

In what is set to be a busy month for the Austrian teenager, he will compete in the first round of the 2007 Asian series in China before making his Australian debut two weeks later on February 2 – 4 for the high-aiming Astuti team.

Grubmuller’s signing to Astuti Motorsport continues the growing international interest in the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 championship that is set to feature a number of international drivers this year, following the successes of Ben Clucas, James Winslow and Bruno Senna in 2006.

Astuti, who finished third in last year’s Gold Star championship with Michael Trimble, has recently completed extensive testing in preparation for the 2007 season and are high on confidence heading into the opening round – to be run at the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport event at Eastern Creek.

“I’m very excited to have been able to sign Walter for the first round of 2007,” Said team owner Sam Astuti.

“Our program is coming together really well, it’s been a very satisfying off season. We have done a lot of testing and it’s gone very well. The new members of our crew have gelled quickly and I’m very excited about the potential for the year ahead.

”Walter is a very good young driver and I’m certain that he won’t be there to make up the numbers at Eastern Creek. We’re excited to have him.” Astuti said.

Grubmuller began karting in Austria in the year 2000, before moving into the ranks of Formula Renault, competing in both the Italian and European championships.

In November 2006 he made his Formula 3 race debut with the Speedtech Asia outfit in the Asian Formula 3 Championship, driving an older model car in the final four races at Batangas, in the Philippines.

He set times well within the top six of the competitive field, and joins the likes of Mat Sofi, Leanne Tander, Tim Macrow, Chris Alajajian and Stuart Kostera as confirmed drivers for the first round of the Australian championship this year.

Whilst not yet ready to confirm the driver of their second car, Astuti Motorsport has confirmed that they will run a two-car program right from the start of this year’s championship.

“We purchased the second car last year with the intention of running a two car team in the championship this year, and that’s what we are going to do,” Sam Astuti said.

“We hope to be able to confirm the second driver for the A1GP event at Eastern Creek very shortly.”

The 2007 Championship gets underway in less than three weeks time at Eastern Creek Raceway, in Sydney, on February 2 – 4.

At least two further outright driver / team announcements are expected within the following week, the 2007 field already shaping up as one of the most competitive on record.

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