Mat SofiTim Macrow has clearly learned from the Joey Foster book of qualifying tricks.

At the Clipsal 500 this year, Foster snared a last-ditch pole position over Macrow well after the checkered flag had fallen on the second session with a perfectly timed flyer.

Today, at Oran Park Raceway, Tim Macrow returned the favor in qualifying for race 13 of the 2009 Formula 3 Australian Driver’s championship for the CAMS Gold Star, taking pole position number seven for the season by just overhauling Foster after the session had finished.

Later in the afternoon Mathew Sofi, who lives just five minutes from the track in Rossmore, took his first ever Formula 3 pole position in one of the closest sessions of the year.

After an early shower fell just before qualifying one, Foster had shown his superiority in greasy conditions during most of the session and held the top spot when the flag fell, but Macrow had just snuck though to begin a last-ditch flyer with one second remaining in the session.

One minute, three seconds and a few hundredths later, the #25 car jumped to the top of the charts just 0.04s faster than the his championship rival in one of the most dramatic qualifying sessions ever staged at Oran Park.

The bonus point Macrow scored also elevated him to the championship lead for the first time this season, with just this and one more round (at Sandown) remaining.

Later in the day Sofi took his AmPro Dallara to the best time half-way through qualifying for race 14 and then watched as almost everyone else chipped away at his best time.

Macrow came close – within 0.3s, in fact – but not close enough to deny Sofi his career first pole position.

In the closest session of the year the top five cars were covered by just 0.2s, and the top six by just 0.5s as the stage was set for a highly competitive Gold Star finale’ at Oran Park.

“I’m really happy, it’s a great result and nice to finally get that pole position in the bag,” Sofi said this afternoon.

“The track changed a lot between sessions, it was a lot slower than the first session and we didn’t change the car and went slower – but it was enough.

“The others were closing in but I got one last good lap and did just enough to get the pole position. It’s a good result and now we need to go on with it tomorrow and get another race win or two.”

Macrow said that the small margin between the two reflected the intensity of their title fight this season.

“It’s certainly close,” he said after pipping his rival by 0.04s in qualifying one.

“It’s been close all year, its close now and I’m sure it’ll be close to the end of the year. It’s a great fight and every point will help at this stage of the year. I’m pretty pleased but there’s a long way to go and this place is tough.”

Fosters performance in qualifying one will please both him and his BRM outfit after they came away from Friday practice dissapointed with their pace.

Ben Crighton will start third for both races in his TanderSport Dallara after topping a session in practice, yesterday.

Roger I’Anson stunned the establishment by topping the National Class after actually earlier topping the session outright as the circuit was drying. He beat Tom Tweedie and Chris Gilmour to stage a fascinating battle in F3’s ‘race within a race’ this weekend.

Tom Tweedie returned serve in race two to take the National Class Pole position and take a career-best fourth outright on the grid in the process.

Chris Gilmour was third in class on both occasions ahead of a close class battle between Bevan Carrick, Graeme Holmes and Maher Algadri. Peter Kalpakiotis got the points in the National ‘B’ class in his Scud Racing F301.

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Photo by F3A / Nathan Wong