F3

AUSF3: 100th race celebration preview

Kumho Tyres Australian F3 to celebrate 'the big 100' in Sydney. 100th birthdays don't come around too often. Always a remarkable achievement, the 'big 100' is always a landmark worth celebrating in style - and whilst its unlikely that a...

Kumho Tyres Australian F3 to celebrate 'the big 100' in Sydney.

100th birthdays don't come around too often. Always a remarkable achievement, the 'big 100' is always a landmark worth celebrating in style - and whilst its unlikely that a letter from the Queen will be forthcoming, the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 championship will nevertheless celebrate it's 100th race when the series fronts for its fifth outing for 2005 at Eastern Creek in a week's time.

Things have progressed rapidly since the series first took to Australian Racetracks at Adelaide's Mallala Raceway in May 1999, evolving to become the premier open wheel category in the country and to be competing for the prestigious Australian Drivers Championship and the CAMS Gold Star award.

Australian Formula 3's first ever race - held in fine but cool and windy conditions - was won by Paul Stephenson, who took out a ten-lap encounter at Mallala ahead of Bronte Rundle - who now heads up Team BRM. Well known open wheel competitor Chas Jacobsen completed a competitive top three, all podium finishers driving Dallara F396 model cars.

The competition at the front of the field, however, has reached a whole new level this year with frenetic action being seen at the four rounds held to date.

Leading the charge is West Australian driver Aaron Caratti, who heads to Eastern Creek with a comfortable 23 point buffer over season long rival Michael Trimble. Caratti - driving for David Borg's newly christened 'Insight F3' team - won the recent round at Queensland Raceway and leaped to the top of the standings, the first clear points leader the championship has had to date in 2005.

Caratti's four race wins to date have been coupled with four poles and three 3rd place finishes to firmly entrench the driver at the top of the table.

Second in points is Team BRMs Michael Trimble, the 20 year old having had a disastrous run at Queensland -- failing to finish the second race after the Speiss engine powering his Dallara F304 failed with two laps remaining in the round's final race.

The young Victorian had been toe to toe with Caratti for a majority of the season and will be looking to follow on team BRM's success at the Sydney circuit last season -- eventual champion Karl Reindler dominated the meeting -- to haul the points gap back.

Finding some of his early season form at the forth round was Chris Alajajian, now with experienced racing outfit Protecnica Racing preparing his Jack Hillerman's Smash Dallara F304 -- Renault. After struggling for pace and reliability at the third round of the championship, Alajajian's form in Queensland came as a welcome relief for the aggressive youngster. Expect the Protecnica team to be right on top of set-up and preparation at what will be their home round of the series'.

Amongst an expanded entry for the Sydney round include Benchmark Motorsports Matt Sofi, who made his Formula 3 debut at the series' opening round at Wakefield Park this year. Piccola Scuderia's Canadian import Cody Liebel will also return after sitting out the last round. Liebel has plenty of laps around the Piccola team's home circuit, and is set to show more constant improvement in his distinctive red Dallara F301.

Stephen Borness will also make his F3 debut at the wheel of David Choon's Dallara F396. Borness -- who will make his first ever Formula 3 start at the Sydney track - has extensive racing experience, predominantly in the Australian Carrera Cup Championship.

F3 rookie Lauren Gray will return for her second bite at the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Trophy Class after impressing in her F3 debut at Queensland Raceway. Gray showed constant improvement over the course of the Queensland round, and will be looking to challenge for outright Trophy Class honours in her Scud Racing prepared Dallara F396 when the series hits Sydney for the first time this season.

The series' 100th ever race will be the second race of the fifth round of the championship this season, set to be contested at Eastern Creek on July 23 - 24.

Kumho Tyres Formula 3 Championship '100 Races young' -- Facts and Stats

Championship Race winners (1999 -- 2005):
1. Paul Stephenson - 17
2. Peter Hackett -- 12
3. James Manderson -- 10
4. Michael Caruso -- 8
5. Will Power -- 6
(* There have been 18 different race winners since 1999)

Championship Winners (1999 -- 2005)
Paul Stephenson (1999, 2000)
Karl Reindler (2004)
Michael Caruso (2003)
James Manderson (2002)
Peter Hackett (2001)

Australian Formula 3's First Ever Race --Mallala Raceway, May 30, 1999
1. Paul Stephenson Dallara F396
2. Bronte Rundle Dallara F396
3. Chas Jacobsen Dallara F396
4. Brian Sampson Dallara F393
5. Mark Rundle Dallara F396
6. Graeme Blee Reynard 923
7. Peter Rees Reynard 923
8. Graeme Holmes Reynard 913
9. Bill Maddocks Richards 201B
10. John Boothman Dallara 390

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Series F3
Drivers Will Power , Peter Hackett , Stephen Borness , Michael Caruso , John Booth , Aaron Caratti , Graeme Holmes , Lauren Gray , Karl Reindler