F3 NATIONAL CLASS CHAMP TOM TWEEDIE is back - and this time he is hoping to end his year with a Gold Star.

The 20-year-old Sydney driver will return to the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship for the 2010 racing season and will this year seek the outright title to go with a superb National Class victory - and the inaugural Graham Watson Rookie of the year award - he scored last season.

Tweedie was something of a revelation in his first year of 'wings and slicks' racing, dominating the National Class for 2004-spec F3 cars and placing on the outright podium three times.

The second-generation driver will begin his 2010 campaign in his existing Renault-powered F304 Dallara, with the potential to step into a later model car from round three onwards.

"The first two rounds are at tracks (Wakefield Park and Symmons Plains) which suit the F304 cars, which have less downforce than the newer cars so it makes sense to run with what we know and use our data from last year to keep improving," Tweedie said.

"We gained speed all last year and finished with excellent park at the Sandown finale', where we nearly scored pole position on several occasions and finished a great third outright in race one.

"A 2004-spec car got pole in Tasmania in 2008, and an even older model car finished on third outright in the SuperPrix that same year, so that could be a very good track for us.

"After Symmons Plains we will re-appraise the situation and look at upgrading to a newer car for the remainder of the season, but a lot of that depends on budget. There are six tracks on this years calendar that will not give the later cars a massive advantage so we are hoping for a good year, regardless of the car, and some more podiums.

"With continued reliability perhaps a strong placing in the final Gold Star standings won't be out of the question."

Tweedie's family-backed team will also undergo change this year, experienced chief mechanic Richie Kearny departing to his native UK to further his career.

Tweedie says that his team has already spoken to several potential replacements from both here and abroad and is confident of maintaining their faultless mechanical record into the New Year. A new transporter / trailer will complete the professional outfit as they seek to climb the ladder this season.

He said plans were coming together well and that existing sponsors looked to be coming back for the new season.

"Battery World has been fantastic and they have expressed an interest in returning, as have Tizzana Vineyards. We expect things to fall into place quickly and begin a limited testing program in February before the start of the season, to keep engine miles down.

"I'm really looking forward to the season," He added. "If we can continue the momentum and reliability we showed in 2009 then it could be a really good year."

Tweedie has also received an invitation to contest two rounds of the British Formula 3 Championship with Team West-Tec, with whom he tested with late in 2009.

The rounds fall in a two-month break in the Australian schedule later in the year.

The first round of the 2010 Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship kicks off at Wakefield Park Raceway in Goulburn, on March 5 - 7.

-source: formula 3 aus