FORMULA 3'S INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS ON TOP DESPITE LOCAL CHALLENGE AT GRAND PRIX An international driver won today's first race of the Dodo Australian Formula 3 non championship races at the Formula 1 Fosters Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix today...
FORMULA 3'S INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS ON TOP DESPITE LOCAL CHALLENGE AT GRAND PRIX
An international driver won today's first race of the Dodo Australian Formula 3 non championship races at the Formula 1 Fosters Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix today -- but it wasn't the one many expected.
British driver James Winslow, a late addition to the field driving a Piccola Scuderia F304, won an incredible race at Albert Park today after a drama filled day that included three on track sessions for a competitive 24-car field.
Winslow was the main beneficiary of a dramatic race that saw three different race leaders throughout its eight lap duration -- including three lead changes within five corners on the last lap.
High profile international driver Bruno Senna impressed on his Australian debut, posting strong times all weekend and challenging for the lead in the dramatic race this afternoon.
After scoring a crushing pole position in Qualifying, Astuti Motorsport driver Michael Trimble stumbled at the start of today's race and dropped to the bottom of the top ten.
After assuming the lead into the opening corner, Chris Alajajian and Brazilian Senna began to run away from the field at a great rate of knots, going head to head in a close battle for the first five laps.
Behind the leaders, Michael Trimble had begun an inspired charge through the field, re-setting the Albert Park formula 3 lap record three times as he hauled in the leaders.
With three to go Trimble had closed to be directly behind the race leaders and a fantastic three car battle for the lead ensured - keeping the large Thursday crowd on the edge of their seats.
On the penultimate lap of the race, however, leader Alajajian spun at turn 15 after locking his rear brakes, handing the lead to Senna who was being hounded by the recovered Trimble.
After failing to make a move on the start-finish straight, Trimble dived to the inside of the Team BRM Car Senna was driving at turn 3 only to touch his rear wheel with Senna's front -- spinning the Astuti car and badly damaging the Right front wheel on Senna's.
Limping home, Senna was passed by Winslow who went on to record a fortunate, yet stunning victory.
But the race hadn't ended yet -- Alajajian and Trimble colliding heavily after the Astuti car rejoined the circuit at the same time Alajajian was passing. Alajajian's Insight F3 car was eliminated immediately whilst Trimble was able to limp home to second place.
Tim Macrow -- who had struggled for a lack of outright speed in Qualifying -- was a surprised third after making substantial gains before the first race. Bruno Senna survived a last lap off to finish fourth but after lapping underneath the existing lap record today is looking dangerous as he comes to grips with the different car this weekend.
Winslow, who has competed in both Asian and British Formula 3 in recent years, scored Piccola Scuderia Corse's first win since Mallala in 2005 and was justifiably surprised to taste glory early in the weekend.
"It's a gift win, but I'll definitely take it!" he grinned.
"We found a lot more time in the car during the race that time around and we closed the gap to the leaders just that bit further.
"We had aimed to be able to challenge for a win by Sunday so to win now is unexpected but really fantastic. It's a gropportunity to race in front of the Formula 1 teams and I cant wait to see how much better we can go in the remaining three races." He said.
A disappointed Alajajian -- who lead all bar one and a bit laps today - mused about what could have been at a track he has traditionally been strong at.
"The Tyres went off very quickly towards the end of the race," he explained.
"I was adjusting the bias throughout the race and I think I just had a bit too much pressure to the rear and I spun."
The Sydneysider was guarded when asked about the controversial clash with Trimble.
"We shouldn't have been in that position in the first place." He said.
Third-placed Tim Macrow -- whilst surprised -- said that his race one podium was the result of some hard work between sessions.
"A podium is a podium," he grinned.
"We found a lot of time between sessions after changing some gear ratios and the car was a heap better.
"Hopefully we'll be able to continue to improve in the next three races." Macrow said.
And whilst fourth wasn't the result he -- or his legion of new Australian fans -- expected, Bruno Senna said that he was still happy with his performance.
Senna only arrived in the country early this morning and went directly to the circuit from the Melbourne airport.
"To be honest I am still trying to work out how to drive this car, it likes more aggressive driving and it was working in the race" he said.
"Unfortunately it didn't go to plan but I am having fun and I really enjoyed it today. I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
Leanne Tander was fifth in the race today after an air box fire in opening practice left her a session's worth of laps behind the competition, whilst Stephen Borness rounded out the top six.
Ricky Occhipinti, Jason Vince, Laurent Le Page and Wensley Carol rounded out the top ten. Occhipinti was the first of the National Class (for 1999 -- 2001 model cars), whilst Sean Whelan took Trophy honors on his Australian F3 debut.
The second of four races for the Dodo Formula 3's -- presented by Kumho Tyres -- gets underway tomorrow afternoon at 5pm Melbourne time.