The 2000 Australian Formula 3 season was a continuation of advancement in the category since moving to FIA F3 specifications in 1999. The season was again dominated by 1999 champion Paul Stephenson, but this year he was pushed all the way by former Jim Russell International Scholarship winner Peter Hackett. Also fine drives by US Mazda Star competitor Darren Palmer and former Victorian Formula Vee champion James Manderson were highlights, as was the consistent effort by veteran Chas Jacobsen.
Level 2 was a hard fought battle between David Choon and eventual winner Mike Beeley. Beeley eventually having the edge with the 2 litre Alfa engine over Choon's 1600cc Golf. Visits by former class Champions Rod Anderson and Brian Sampson were treats to spicing up the races.
Bill Maddock's in the Richards Golf dominated level 3 for the older aluminium chassis cars. Kevin Lewis from Newcastle in the Ransburg Cheetah pushed him all the way the opening round at Eastern Creek.
Stephenson driving the Toms powered Dallara took 6 wins for the season, and many would say by looking at the statistics, had an easy run of it. But this is not the case. Peter Hackett, coming back from Europe, put a great effort with minimal money. Driving for the Piccolo Scuderia team in Sydney had to miss the Mallala and Sandown rounds still took 3 wins and 4 more podium's. Darren Palmer, with extensive experience in the US and Australia, missed the opening at Eastern Creek and round 6 at Sandown but managed 2 wins and 5 more podium's driving for Bronte Rundles team from Adelaide. Young sensation James Manderson stormed towards the end of the season in Chas Jacobsen's (Shane Flynn prepared) RCH Dallara Toyota. Three wins in the last 3 rounds as well as two podium's couldn't make up for his poor (due to lack of budget - he actually competed in a Level 2 car in the Level 2 pointscore) start of 12 points going into round 5. Team mate Chas Jacobsen was the consistent runner scoring in every round but round 4 at Oran Park. His reward was third in the Championship. Fine drives by Mark Rundle and Peter Rees were rewarded with podium's for both drivers.
But 2000 was Stephenson's year. This was topped off by a test with Alan Docking Racing in the UK with Docking offering a full time drive to Paul for the up-coming 2001 season.
Also testing of the new Yokohama control tyre will fill most teams off-season activity. Bring on 2001. Can't wait for the first round.