FOSTER NARROWS MARGIN WHILST MAT SOFI STORMS TO SUPERPRIX POLE
MAT SOFI HAS edged out the most competitive Formula 3 Australian Drivers' Championship field of the season to take a thrilling pole position for tomorrow's 22-lap Sandown F3 SuperPrix season-ending race at Sandown Raceway.
Meanwhile British driver Joey Foster has edged closer to championship leader Tim Macrow by scoring pole position for tomorrow's first race, the bonus point scored closing the gap to just three markers ahead of tomorrow's showdown.
Foster edged out the field with a stunning lap in a red-flag interrupted first session today, but it was a dramatic and exciting Yorkshire Investments SuperPrix qualifying session that was the highlight of the day.
With just six cars progressing forward to the ‘quick six' shootout, action came thick and fast in the opening 15-minute stanza of the session with cars jockeying to get in.
At the end an incredible nine cars were split by less than a second and championship-class drivers Ben Crighton and Rio Haryanto missed out on the session by just thousandths of a second.
National class drivers Tom Tweedie and stunning rookie Bryce Moore both made it through to the Quick six on a track that has created a level playing field between the newest and older-model 2004-spec Dallara's on the grid.
In the Quick Six Sofi nailed his very last lap of the session to bump Foster from the top spot and take his second career Yorkshire Investments Pole Position by less than one-tenth.
"I'm pumped, this is the one we've been working towards," the AmPro tools-backed Astuti Motorsport driver said.
"It was a fully-committed lap that got me the pole and it was timed as perfectly as possible. It was super close at the end but it was a great session and I'm over the moon to start the SuperPrix from the front.
"The new qualifying format was awesome," he added.
"It needs to be a regular feature of the series because it requires a heap of commitment and gets the team involved with things like strategy for fuel, tyre pressures and track position. I loved it and it sounds like it was an exciting session from outside the car as well as in it."
Joey Foster scored second, whilst New Zealander Mitch Evans finished third in both sessions today, bumping Macrow back to fourth spot on the SuperPrix grid. After earlier topping the session Tom Tweedie qualified fifth for the big race with Bryce Moore sixth on his F3 debut.
Foster said he was pleased with today's results - and the narrowed points gap to title rival Macrow.
"The car has been good all weekend and I just had to go out and do the job and the time in qualifying one, so I'm really pleased," he said.
"There were a couple of red-flags and if it wasn't for them we could've gone quicker, but as it was we had done enough. It's super pleasing and it helps our championship as well which is a handy thing for tomorrow.
"In the end I'm happy with second (for the SuperPrix) and I only just got bumped by Sofi at the end. It would have been nice, but we'll take second."
Macrow will start the SuperPrix fourth, but will draw on memories of his 2007 title year to help his chances tomorrow.
In that year's decider, held at Oran Park, Macrow started the final race from the same position but made a stunning start to lead the field into turn one and to his Gold Star title.
Already crowned National Class Champion, Tom Tweedie was impressive today and scored two of his best ever qualifying results all the while showing he will be a true outright contender tomorrow.
Bryce Moore will start both races from sixth - and ahead of TanderSport team mate Ben Crighton - whilst Kristian Lindbom was today's big improver after slashing his lap times enough to get within half a second of making the Quick Six this afternoon.
The two Chinese drivers continued their studious learning curve and lowered their lap times accordingly, whilst Formula BMW Pacific champ Rio Haryanto was unlucky to lose most of the first session after a rear suspension component bent, restricting his track time.
The final round of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship will conclude tomorrow with two races. A 12 lap sprint race will kick things off in the morning before the 22-lap 2009 Sandown F3 SuperPrix early in the afternoon.