Photo by Richard Craill

Photo by Richard Craill

Team Tom / Battery World supported driver Tom Tweedie has found himself closer than ever before in his quest to challenge the outright cars contesting the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship.

Racing a Formula 3 car for the first ever time at the challenging Oran Park Raceway, the 20-year-old from Sydney’s Northern suburbs was at his most impressive best as he came within mere fractions of the leading, latest-spec cars throughout the weekend.

After Tom clinched the National Class title at Queensland a week ago, Oran Park proved an ideal opportunity for Tom and the Battery World team to chase the Gold Star cars with no pressure to score class points.

He was inside the top four in the first qualifying session before a few cars were able to better his time – by fitting their dry tyres on a rapidly drying track – setting him into 6th place on the race one grid.

But it was qualifying two where Tweedie showed what he was truly capable of. On a dry track, on brand new rubber saved from the first session and in perfect conditions, Tom qualified fourth outright but less than three-tenths of a second from pole position – and ahead of the then joint championship leader, Joey Foster.

Sadly Tom’s F3ADC first race at Oran Park lasted little more than 500 meters after the #19 car was involved in a turn two shunt when Roger I’Anson and Ben Crighton came together whilst fighting for position.

Tweedie was left stranded in the sand trap and out of the race, but he made amends for that disappointment in race two as he scored his second career outright race podium in the shortened 12-lap affair.

Tom crossed the line in third place, behind only Mat Sofi and winner Tim Macrow, to replicate his top three finish scored at the Clipsal 500 earlier this year.

The result ensured that Tom was able to spray the champagne on the podium in the last ever Gold star race to be held at the historic circuit before its unfortunate conversion into a housing estate in 2010.

“It was such a good feeling to get onto the outright podium in race two,” Tweedie said.

“After we did it at Clipsal at the start of the season we were keen to do it again so this is a great way to end my first, and only, ever Formula 3 race at Oran Park. Our race pace was within a few tenths of the leaders cars so we couldn’t have asked for more – it was a great result!”

Tweedie said that the events earlier in the weekend had made it a challenging F3 debut at the 2.8km circuit.

“The light shower before qualifying one really through a wild card into the mix,” he explained.

“I chose to go out on wets and it definitely looked like they were the right choice on the drying track; I was looking solid in 3rd or 4th outright until the sun dried the track in the last 5 mins, allowing a couple of cars on slicks to out-qualify me. That put me 6th on the grid.

“Qualifying two was excellent though. After the dry laps we did on Friday the team and I worked out some changes to the car that were fantastic! Qualifying a few tenths off the outright pole was awesome – Qualifying in front of Foster, who was sharing the lead in the series, was even more unexpected.

“We had a lot of people from Battery World at the track at the weekend, as well as plenty of ‘Team Tom’ members,” Tweedie added.

“I can’t thank them enough for their support and I’m sure they left the track as happy as I was. Next year is looking fantastic!”

Tom Tweedie and the Battery World / Team Tom / Tizzana Vineyards Dallara will next be in action at the final round of the 2009 Formula 3 Australian Driver’s Championship for the CAMS Gold Star, to be held at Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway between November 27 – 29.

For more information head to www.tomtweedie.com