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Nathan MorcomNathan Morcom is officially the fastest man around Mt Panorama!

A record-shattering pole position and a dominant win in the second race at Mt Panorama have given Nathan Morcom a flying start in this year’s Australian Formula 3 Drivers’ Championship.

Driving the CSR/Rondo/DPO/Racer Inc. Dallara F307-Mercedes, the 20 year-old Sydneysider claimed the prime starting position for the first of two races with a sensational 2min 03.2396sec. qualifying lap on Saturday morning. At an average speed of 181.5km/h, it was the fastest officially recorded lap around the legendary 6.213km public road circuit on the outskirts of Bathurst, in western NSW.

(Jenson Button and Craig Lowndes drove sub-2 minute laps in a McLaren Formula 1 car in 2011, but their times weren’t recognised officially because it was a private demonstration and not a race meeting.)

Morcom sliced a massive 1.3791 seconds from the previous mark, set in 2012 by Queenslander Chris Gilmour. However, Gilmour’s outright record stands because Morcom’s time wasn’t set during a race.

Unfortunately a startline gear selection problem prevented Morcom from capitalising on his pole position in Saturday’s first race. He was engulfed by the leading pack, but before he could begin to claw his way through the field, Queensland driver Hayden Cooper crashed at The Dipper on the third lap, bringing out the Safety Car.

By the time Cooper’s damaged car had been removed, there was only time for a one-lap dash to the chequered flag. Morcom was unable improve his position after Ben Gersekowski forced him wide in a braking duel for The Chase corner. The race stewards subsequently disqualified Gersekowski for his actions, elevating the CSR/Rondo/DPO/Racer Inc. driver to fourth place.

But Morcom was untouchable in the second race, held on a wet track after a short rain shower just before the start. From second starting position, he drove around the outside of reigning champion James Winslow at Griffin’s Bend on the second lap, and quickly established a gap over the rest of the field.

He was more than six seconds ahead when Jon Collins crashed heavily at Griffin’s on lap six, again slowing the field behind the Safety Car.

With insufficient time for track workers to clear the track within the 30-minute time limit, the race finished under the full-course caution with eight of the 13 laps completed, giving Morcom his maiden Formula 3 race win. However, because less than 75 percent of the scheduled distance had been completed, only half the usual points were awarded under the championship rules.

After the opening round of the championship, Morcom is in second place on 21 points, 6.5 behind Winslow. The second round of the Australian Formula 3 Drivers’ Championship is next weekend (April 5-7) at the Symmons Pains circuit in central Tasmania.

NATHAN MORCOM QUOTES

Qualifying

“I got caught up with some slower drivers early in the session, but it was a short session so I let them go to get a clear lap.

“The pole lap was a good one, but on my next lap I was going two tenths faster and then I was held up at The Cutting.”

Race 1

“When the starting lights came on I must have pulled the gearshift a bit too hard, because it double-shifted from neutral into second. So I was slow away.

“I caught up to Ben Gersekowski, but then the Safety Car came out for Hayden Cooper’s accident. After that, there was only one racing lap left.

“We were fighting over third place because James Winslow had pushed Steel Guiliana off the track going up Mountain Straight.

“Ben blocked me going up the mountain and across the top, and when I couldn’t get past him into Forrest’s Elbow I got a tow down Con-Rod Straight.

“I was on his outside as we braked for The Chase, but he pushed me off the edge of the track. I had two wheels on the dirt, and thought that I wouldn’t be able to make it around the corner, but somehow I got it back.

“By the time I got going again, Jack LeBrocq had gone through into fourth, but at least I received a couple more points after Ben was disqualified.”

Race 2

“There was a rain shower just before we went onto the grid. There wasn’t much at the bottom of the circuit, but apparently it was heavier across the top. So the race was declared ‘wet’, and we all changed from slicks to wet weather tyres.

“I spent the first lap looking for a place to get past James Winslow. We were both sliding around a fair bit, especially through The Dipper, but my car was a lot faster than his through the corners.

“I liked racing in the wet when I was in go-karts, so it didn’t worry me.

“At the start of lap two I followed James into Hell Corner, got a tow from him up Mountain Straight, and pulled out to pass him on the outside into Griffin’s Bend.

“I was about half a car-length ahead going into the corner, but he gave me racing room, which put me on the inside line for The Cutting.

“He had a go back at me under brakes but I held him out, and across the top I was able to pull out a gap.

“After a few laps I saw in my mirrors that I was about halfway down Con-Rod Straight when the others came out of Forrest’s Elbow, so I tried to maintain that distance every lap.

“I could have gone faster, but the conditions were very tricky and you don’t get a second chance to make a mistake at this circuit.

“Thanks to Ian Richards and his R-Tek Motorsports for a great car, and to my sponsors CSR, Rondo, DPO and Racer Inc. for their support.”

IAN RICHARDS (R-TEK Motorsport) QUOTES

“We already knew Nathan from when he drove one of our cars at the Eastern Creek F3 Championship round in 2010. And we had the set-up data from 2012, when James Winslow won in the same car that Nathan drove this year.

“The only problem we had all weekend was when the gearshift wouldn’t do flat upchanges during Friday practice. It was something in the software – other teams had the same problem – but the electronics wizards soon had it fixed.

“Nathan can drive as fast as anyone out there. Our data showed that there was a bit more time left in his pole lap, and he was going faster on his next lap but he got held up.

“All in all it was a great performance – almost 10/10.”

RESULTS*

AUSTRALIAN FORMULA 3 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUND 1

Race 1 – 8 laps (49.7km)

1. James Winslow (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 24min. 16.5119sec.

2. John Magro (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 24min. 17.6996sec.

3. Jack LeBrocq (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 24min. 20.0903sec.

4. Nathan Morcom (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 24min. 20.7358sec.

Race 2 – 8 laps (49.7km)

1. Nathan Morcom (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 25min. 08.4900sec.

2. James Winslow (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 25min. 09.1039sec.

3. Nick Foster (Mygale M08-Mercedes) 25min. 09.7687sec.

POINTSCORE AFTER ROUND 1*

1. James Winslow 27.5

2. Nathan Morcom 21.0

3. John Magro 19.0

* Subject to official confirmation

Photo by mpix.

Nathan MorcomA persistent handling problem with Nathan Morcom’s car couldn’t disguise his competitiveness in the national drivers’ championship round.

Race finishing positions often don’t tell the whole story – as was the case with Nathan Morcom’s return to openwheeler racing in the seventh round of the Australian Drivers’ Championship at Phillip Island.

At first glance, the 20 year-old Sydneysider’s best result of fourth from the weekend’s three ADC races mightn’t look all that impressive. But a closer examination of the Direct Plasterboard Outlet/Rondo driver’s data reveals that he had the potential to be a contender at the 2012 Gold Star finale.

He was only a few tenths of a second off the fastest lap in during Friday practice. And he clocked the second-fastest lap on a treacherous rain-soaked track in race two, despite severe understeer that afflicted his Dallara throughout Saturday and Sunday.

The handling imbalance, combined with starting grid incidents in all three races, dashed Morcom’s chances of getting onto the podium, much less winning, at the 4.5km coastal Victorian venue. But his performance was a lot more encouraging than his race results suggested.

Practice & qualifying
Having returned to Australia after an abortive F2000 Championship Series campaign plagued by car problems, Morcom was among the quickest drivers in both of Friday’s practice sessions.

In the morning half-hour session he posted the third-fastest lap, only 0.23 seconds behind newly crowned 2012 champion James Winslow. He followed that up in the afternoon session with the second-fast time, just 0.29 seconds adrift of Winslow.

But in qualifying on Saturday morning, Morcom’s Dallara was a distant 2.4 seconds away from Winslow’s pole position time. The Astuti Motorsport car had developed an understeer condition that defied the best efforts of Sam Astuti and 2007 ADC winner Tim Macrow to cure it.

“The front was pushing through the fast turns and on entry to the slow ones,” Morcom reported. “It was costing me time everywhere, even down the straights because I was so slow coming onto them.

“I came into the pits twice to try to fix the problem, but there wasn’t much that Sam or Tim could do in a 20-minute session.

“What made it worse for me was that the Kumho tyres took four or five laps to get up to temperature. Most of the tyres I’ve driven on have been at their best on the second or third lap.

“I only got in two quick laps after my second pit-stop, and then the session ended. If I’d done a couple more laps I probably would have gone quicker, but with the understeer there was no way I could have got close to the front row guys’ times.”

Race 1
Saturday afternoon’s race couldn’t have started much worse for Morcom – his car stalled when the green lights went off!

He’d lost around 10 seconds by the time the Renault fired up again, but he set off after the rapidly disappearing field. He caught and passed two tail-enders, then had a lucky break when the Safety Car came out on lap four and allowed the field to close up.

After the restart he overtook Jake Fouracre for sixth place, and was within striking distance of fifth-placed Lachlan Marshall when the chequered flag ended the race two laps short of the scheduled nine-lap distance.

Morcom’s sixth place subsequently became fifth when the officials penalised Winslow for timing his restart too early after the Safety Car period.

“There was some confusion at the start because there were two warm-up laps,” Morcom said. “When my car stalled, I just had to chase and hope there’d be a Safety Car, which happened, fortunately for me.

“I was able to lap at the same speed as the third, fourth and fifth guys, so without the understeer and the stall at the start, a podium definitely would have been possible.”

Race 2
It wouldn’t be a proper Phillip Island race meeting if it didn’t rain, and the weather gods duly obliged with a Sunday morning deluge!

This time Morcom was almost a casualty before the start. He couldn’t avoid running into the back of Hayden Cooper’s car, which suddenly hesitated as the field took off on the warm-up lap.

The impact damaged the right side of the DPO-Rondo Dallara’s front wing, robbing Morcom of even more front-end downforce, especially on the anti-clockwise circuit’s predominantly left-hand turns.

Even so, he splashed to a fine fifth place in a race that also finished prematurely because of the slower lap times.

“I couldn’t see that Hayden had stopped because his car’s rain light wasn’t on,” Morcom said. “The end plates and flag were missing, and the main plane was touching the track on some corners.

“Sam asked me over the radio if I wanted to pit for a new nosecone, but if I’d done that I would have finished way back. So I took my chances and drove the car the way it was.”

His second-fastest race lap was all the more impressive considering the state of his car, and enhanced his reputation as a wet-weather racer.

It brought back memories of the opening round of the 2010 F2000 Championship Series, when rain late in the race sent most of his rivals scurrying to the pits for wet tyres while he slipped and slithered to victory on slicks.

Race 3
By the time the ADC field gathered for the 14-lap feature race, the rain had gone – but Morcom’s startline jinx still lingered.

Cooper stalled again when the green lights went off, and Winslow, who was right behind, did likewise. As the third in line, Morcom had to wait until the two drivers ahead of him sorted themselves out before he could get underway.

He caught fifth-placed Ben Gersekowski by the start of lap two, and swept by in a bold move through Doohan Corner. Two laps later he dived past Lachlan Marshall for fourth place at Honda Corner, then held the Victorian at bay until the finish.

“The car was still understeering, and after I passed Lachlan I couldn’t make any impression on the leaders,” Morcom said. “It was strange that the set-up changes Sam and Tim made didn’t fix the balance – maybe my driving style isn’t the same as Tim’s.

“But the important thing to come out of this weekend is that I know I can be competitive at this level.”

Morcom said that while his racing program for 2013 hasn’t been decided, he’s keen to go forward after his one-off ADC appearance.

“I like F3, but I’ll look at a few options over the next few months,” he said.

“Thanks to my sponsors, especially Direct Plasterboard Outlet and Rondo, for their support this year, and I hope to be back racing with them again in 2013.”

Photo by MPix.

Nathan MorcomNathan Morcom will return to openwheel racing in the final round of the Australian Drivers’ Championship at Phillip Island on September 21-23. The 20 year-old Sydneysider has switched to the local F3 series after his American F2000 Championship Series campaign was beset by car problems in the first two rounds. Morcom will drive Astuti Motorsport’s Dallara F307-Renault, sponsored by Direct Plasterboard Outlet and Rondo, at the 4.445km Victorian circuit. Phillip Island will be his second race meeting driving an F3, but his first in a Championship class car.

He made a promising National class debut with an F304 Dallara-Opel in the 2010 Eastern Creek Gold Star round, finishing in the top three in each heat despite not having driven the car until official practice. Morcom scored an Australian Production Car Endurance Championship class win with Chaz Mostert in April, but is eager to get back into openwheeler racing.

“I’m really looking forward to driving an F3 car again, especially at Phillip Island,” he said.

“F3s are the fastest cars currently racing in Australia, and The Island is the fastest circuit in Australia!

“I felt immediately at home when I drove an F3 for the first time at Eastern Creek two years ago.

“Without doing any testing, I was only half a second off the National class fastest lap in the races.

“Even though the Championship class is a step up from National, I’m confident of putting in a good performance after testing the F307 at Phillip Island last week.”

Astuti Motorsport boss Sam Astuti echoed Morcom’s confidence in the lead-up to the Gold Star finale.

“Nathan impressed me with his mature attitude and approach during the test day,” Astuti said.

“I think he will be competitive at Phillip Island, even though he hasn’t raced for a few months.”

A bonus for Morcom is that his race engineer will be 2007 Gold Star champion Tim Macrow, who won the overall round at Eastern Creek this year in his annual cameo appearance, driving the same car.

The Australian Drivers’ Championship schedule at Phillip Island begins with two 30-minute practice sessions on Friday, followed by qualifying and a nine-lap/40km race on Saturday, and two races over nine-laps/40km and 14-laps/62km on Sunday.

Sunday’s action will be streamed live on the Internet at www.itvlive.com.au.
PHILLIP ISLAND F3 TIMETABLE

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

1050-1120 – Practice

1405-1435 – Practice

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

1000-1020 – Qualifying

1335-1350 – Race 1 (9 laps)

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

0940-0955 – Race 2 (9 laps)

1230-1255 – Race 3 (14 laps)

Two young Chinese racing stars of the future will add further international relevance to the final round of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship – The F3 SuperPrix – at Sandown next week.

18-year-old Zhang Shan Qi and 16-year-old Li Zhi Cong will drive a pair of F304 Dallaras entered by R-Tek Motorsport, the Adelaide based team that this year has run cars for Jesse Wakeman and Roger I’Anson.

Both young drivers are part of the PTRS Racing Team, a well known Chinese-based operation that has run cars in Asian Formula Renault, Formula 3 and other series.

Members of the PTRS team will be present at Sandown to work with with the R-Tek crew in assisting their young protégés adapt to the rigours of Formula 3 competition, as both drivers will be making their respective F3 debuts at Sandown.

“I am very excited as it’s going to be my first F3 race,” Zhang Shan Qi said.

“It is also going to be my first time visiting Australia so I’m very much looking forward to it! I am grateful to have this opportunity to take part in this great event in Australia and also the chance to be able to race with the other drivers from different parts of the world.

“I will definitely do my best and try to gain as much experience as I can for my future racing career.”

Both Shan Qi and Cong have recent experience in the Asian Formula Renault championship, giving them an ideal preparation for the step into a more powerful Formula 3 car.

“Both drivers have got wings and slicks experience which will make the transition easier for them at Sandown. From a team perspective we’re really looking forward to having the two guys join the team,” R-Tek team owner and F3 chairman Ian Richards said.

“The Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship has been working hard this year to increase our penetration in the Asian market and the response we have had for Sandown is remarkable. People are seeing Australian Formula 3 as a cost-effective and competitive way to go Formula 3 racing and the Sandown grid will be proof of that.”

The Sandown F3 SuperPrix grid will now feature seven non-Australian drivers, hailing from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Indonesia and China.

The international interest generated in the participation of the young overseas stars has extended to major Chinese broadcaster CCTV 5 showing an interest in covering the event, and the progress of their two countrymen.

The final round of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship will also feature an epic showdown between Tim Macrow and Joey Foster for the CAMS Gold Star award and the Australian Drivers’ Championship title.

For Macrow, it will be an opportunity to secure a second Gold Star whilst Foster seeks his first crown and back-to-back titles for Team BRM.

The Sandown F3 SuperPrix will be held over 22-laps of Sandown Raceway in Melbourne on Sunday, November 29th, in a programme that also features a 12-lap sprint and a Formula 1-style Knockout qualifying session on Saturday.

For more information about the Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship please visit www.formula3.com.au

Rio HaryantoThe Sandown F3 Superprix is set to be a melting pot of international racing talent following the conformation today that 16-year-old Indonesian Formula BMW star Rio Haryanto will return to the Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship this November.

Haryanto, from Central Java in Indonesia, raced a National Class Dallara at Queensland Raceway in August this year but will step into outright contention at the Melbourne circuit, set to take to the wheel of an Astuti Motorsport F307 Dallara.

Already crowned the Formula BMW Pacific champion (with one round to spare), Haryanto will join drivers from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom as outright contenders for Formula 3s toughest race of the year – an event that will double as a title showdown between Tim Macrow and Joey Foster.

Haryanto will drive the Astuti chassis driven to a race win last year at Oran Park by James Winslow.

The youngster has dominated proceedings in the competitive Formula BMW Asia championship this year and will finish that particular campaign one week before the Sandown event, at the Macau Grand Prix.

“It is fantastic that the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship can attract a champion driver from Asia like Rio,” Astuti Motorsport team owner Sam Astuti said.

“It shows the progress the series is making and the reputation it now has internationally. The field at Sandown will be first-class and we can’t wait for what should be a fantastic SuperPrix race.”

Driving a PHR Scuderia F304 Dallara, Haryanto scored a National Class pole position at Queensland Raceway and finished just behind class champion Tom Tweedie in the first race.

“As a team we were impressed with Rio’s performances at Queensland in the National Class car,” Astuti said.

“By the end of the weekend he was just as fast as the class benchmark and not far off the outright cars too. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do in the outright car at Sandown and I would say, based on his pace and successes in Asia so far this year, he will be very competitive.”

Haryanto will be a team-mate to Sydney driver Mat Sofi, his #2 AmPro Tools Dallara also prepared out of the Astuti Motorsport stable, giving the team two cars for the first time this season.

The Sandown F3 SuperPrix will be contested between November 27 – 29, alongside the final round of the 2009 Shannons Nationals.

For more information about the Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship please visit www.formula3.com.au

Photo by F3A / Klynsmith Image

The relative strenght of competition within the Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship has been further displayed after Joey Foster put in a front-running performance in the most recent round of the German ATS Formula 3 Cup at the weekend.

Foster, a six-time race winner in Australia with Team BRM this season, returned to the German series in a one-event deal with his former team (HS Technik Motorsport) and again showed the pace that, in 2006, saw him lead the German series before a massive crash ended his year and put him in hospital with a broken back.

Foster has since orchestrated a stunning return to ‘wings and slicks’ racing in Australia this year, set to enter the final round of the 2009 F3 Australian Drivers Championship just a handful of points behind Tim Macrow in a thrilling title showdown at Sandown this November.

Foster qualified eighth and fifth for the two races, respectively, at the weekend and made further ground when the green flag dropped despite not having seen the technical Sachsenring circuit before his arrival on Thursday.

In race one he took his Dallara F307 – Mercedes entry to a strong fourth place finish, after starting eighth. Joey also set the fourth-fastest lap of the race, shadowing his HS Technik teammate Harald Schlegelmilch to the finish.

In race two he finished fifth, the same position he started, again proving him a team player as he ably backed up his teammate who finished one position ahead in fourth.

Fosters’ performance in the competitive German Formula 3 Championship – which runs similar specification cars to the local series – has served as further proof of how competitive the Australian product really is.

That Foster could return to the German F3 series after a three-year absence, learn a new circuit and yet still finish inside the top five against a competitive grid shows the speed he has used all season in Australia is competitive on a world level.

The German series is one of the strongest domestic series’ in Europe and lists past champions including Nick Heidfeld, Michael Schumacher, Tom Kristensen and Jarno Trulli, amongst others.

When Joey contested the 2006 season he was leading drivers the likes of new GP2 champion Nico Hulkenberg and A1GP frontrunner Ho-Pin Tung prior to his unfortunate accident.

Despite smaller grids this season, Fosters European-spec pace has this year been locally matched by the likes of Macrow, Mat Sofi, Ben Crighton and Tom Tweedie, showing that the Aussie field lacks nothing for pace and competition in comparison to European series’.

That will be shown at Sandown this November when Foster and Macrow will go head-to-head for the Gold Star in the 2009 championship showdown.
For more information about the F3 Australian Drivers’ Championship, head to www.formula3.com.au

Rhys NewmanThe youngest ever Australian driver to test a Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship Car completed a successful debut test in an F304 Dallara at Mallala last weekend, continuing his already strong link to the Gold Star in the process.

15-year-old Rhys Newman, from Adelaide, completed 50 laps of the 2.6km Mallala circuit with the experienced R-Tek motorsport team that has helped fellow young drivers Jesse Wakeman and Roger I’Anson perform well this season.

Earlier this year, Newman was the first driver to be granted a CAMS competition license following the change in regulations allowing younger drivers to take to the track, and has since been racing with strong results in the competitive South Australian Formula Vee state title and the Shannons Nationals series.

The former Karting champion showed his promise by scoring pole position and winning just his second-ever Formula Vee race at Mallala, sitting in equal first place in the National series and third in the SA titles.

The affable youngster has support and backing from Australian Open Wheel legends John Walker – the 1979 Gold Star champion – and Martin Sampson, who supported Walkers’ racing via his Magnum Wheels business.

In supporting Newman this year the pair have reunited 30 years after their combined success in the 1979 Australian Drivers Championship and Australian Grand Prix, in the era of the 500-horsepower F5000 cars.

Walker was present for Newman’s Mallala test, bringing him full circle with the latest and greatest Gold Star machinery and giving the young South Australian driver invaluable experience on which to draw as he forges his own driving career.

By all accounts, Newman acquitted himself well in his first test of a Formula 3 car that requires a vastly different driving style to his 1200cc Formula Vee.

“I’m really grateful to Ian Richards and the R-Tek team for the opportunity to drive one of their cars,” Newman said.

“There was a lot to take in but the team was fantastic and great to work with. Being able to test this car will give us the basis for our decisions for where we will race next season.”

Experience team owner and former open-wheel champion Richards, who amongst other successes engineered Karl Reindler to the 2004 Australian Formula 3 Championship, said that Rhys showed his potential during the brief introductory test.

“The young lad put in a very good performance, followed instructions he was given and that’s all we can ask,” Richards said.

“At 15, he’s the youngest Australian to have tested a Formula 3 car so to put in the performance he did was excellent.

“Jumping into one of these cars is a huge leap from what he has been driving and with the exception of one minor ‘off’ he handled the car, the team environment and himself very well. It’s obvious that he has built a solid foundation of skills over many years of racing in Karting and now in Formula Vee, and he put them to excellent use during the test.

“He has a lot of potential and I’d like nothing more than to keep working with him.”

Newman will be back in action at Mallala this weekend (September 12-13) competing in the South Australian state titles, whilst the Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship is in the midst of a two-month break prior to the season finale at Sandown on November 27-29.

For more information head to www.formula3.com.au

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

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.

For more information and full results head to www.formula3.com.au

Photo by F3A / Nathan Wong

Tim MacrowThe 46-year old tradition of Australia’s fastest racing cars visiting Oran Park raceway will come to a close this weekend following the running of round six of the 2009 Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship for the CAMS Gold Star.

Powerful ‘wings and slicks’ racing cars have become an annual feature on the Oran Park racing schedule and the track has had its hand in making and breaking the careers of many big names within the sport.

Like the drivers, the categories representing the Gold Star have come and gone with the past five seasons having witnessed the fully international cars from Formula 3 fight out for Australia’s premier open-wheel award, as will again be the case this year.

In the past categories like Formula Libre, Formula 5000, Formula Mondial, Formulae’s Brabham, Holden and F4000 and Formula Two have all featured at the circuit and have thrilled fans with top-level ‘wings and slicks’ racing.

But the one constant is that Oran Park and Wings and Slicks Open Wheelers go hand-in-hand – just ask those that have driven the 2.8km Grand Prix circuit in one for proof.

The challenging, undulating layout has always been synonymous with the Gold Star.  Its combination of slow, medium and high speed corners brings out the best attributes in Open Wheel cars as it has done since the track was opened in 1962, during the era of open wheel greats like Bib Stilwell, Spencer Martin and Lex Davison.

This weekend names of the future like Joey Foster, Tim Macrow, Mat Sofi, Ben Crighton and Tom Tweedie, amongst others, will be completing the Gold Star chapter in Oran Park’s history book.

Oran Park has been more than just a challenging circuit and a test of a driver’s ability – it has also defined the careers of two particular drivers who have secured the highest award in Australian motorsport at the circuit.

2006 V8 Supercar Champion Rick Kelly clinched his first major title at Oran Park in 2001, when he powered a Birrana Racing Formula Holden to two commanding race wins that gave him enough points to seal the Gold Star with two rounds remaining.

Kelly, now driving a Jack Daniel’s Holden Commodore in the V8 Supercars, says that Oran Park brings fond memories of his early days racing in the ADC.

“It does bring back memories,” Said Rick.

“That year in the Australian Driver’s Championship was very enjoyable. It’s the quickest form of racing that I’ve ever driven and it’s sad that this weekend will be its last race meeting.

“It’s such a flowing track that was a lot of fun. There are a lot of corners and there are some bumpy areas which are a little bit hairy in one of those cars – but it’s got some great corners like the dogleg that are just a lot of fun.”

Kelly continues to have high praise for the circuit despite the V8s having farewelled it last year.

“It’s one of the best tracks in Australia and I’d love to see another track like it,” he said. “If it had a resurface I think it would be the best track in Australia, excluding Bathurst.”

Six years later, another young Victorian driver won his first Gold Star at Oran Park in one of the most dramatic season finale’s in all of Australian Motorsport.

After three years of trying, Tim Macrow won the 2007 Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star when he triumphed in a three-way fight with Leanne Tander and British driver Charlie Hollings.

The lead in the championship changed hands between all three of the drivers over the course of the weekend and it was only a sensational start in the second and final race of the weekend managed to leap Macrow from fourth to the lead of the race.

He then withheld 15 laps of massive pressure to win the race and the title in the most dramatic fashion possible.

“That was the best start of my career and that weekend as a whole was pretty incredible,” Said Macrow, who co-leads this year’s title in a close battle with British driver Joey Foster.

“I crashed in the rain on Friday and then only qualified fourth for race two so that made things difficult, but we were able to come through at the start and win. It’s certainly one of the reasons why Oran Park has plenty of good memories for me.

“In 2006 I won both races there so I’ve had a lot of success there and it means a lot to have been able to do that at a track with so much history within the Australian Driver’s Championship.”

Oran Park also has personal history for Macrow, his surname featuring regularly on the circuits honour roll with two generations of the well-known racing family having won at the circuit.

“My dad (Peter Macrow) raced there and had a lot of success in the 1970s and my brother (Adam) won a race here during his title year in the Fujitsu V8s – so we have a lot of personal history at the place,” he said.

“It will be sad to see it go this weekend but it’s great that Joey (Foster) and I are fighting so hard for the Gold Star this year. It’s appropriate that we should be so close coming into the final round at Oran Park and hopefully we can put on a couple of exciting races this weekend to cap off the Gold Stars history at the track.”

Macrow and Foster are currently tied for the lead of the Formula 3 Australian Driver’s Championship after Macrow was able to win both races at Queensland Raceway last weekend.

Oran Park is the penultimate round of the 2009 Gold Star and as such looks likely to form a crucial part to the title hopes of drivers’ racing in this year’s championship as it has done so often in the past.

The 2009 Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship field will tackle two, 15-lap races on Sunday as part of the big Shannons Nationals event that is the final ever National-level race meeting at Oran Park.

The Formula 3 Gold Star era has produced its fair share of sensational races at Oran Park, and also plenty of history – for instance, Leanne Tander became the first female driver in the history of the Australian Drivers Championship to score a pole position, when she topped qualifying one at Oran Park on October 28, 2006, during the Gold Star’s 50th anniversary year.

Race winners in the ‘f3 era’ include Tander, British drivers James Winslow and Charile Hollings and, of course, Macrow.

As the fastest cars in the country, naturally the Australian Driver’s Championship holds Oran Park’s outright lap record.

It was set in 2000 by Orange, NSW, driver Tim Leahey driving a Reynard 92D Formula Holden and stands to this day at 1m01.6718s.

The lap record for the less-powerful Formula 3 cars that now make up the Gold Star category is 1m03.9747, set by Michael Caruso, driving a Dallara F301 – Fiat, in July 2003.

For more information head to www.formula3.com.au

Photo by F3A / Klynsmith Image