MIXED FORTUNES FOR ASTUTI MOTORSPORT ACES ON THE ISLAND Round 6 of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star at Phillip Island Raceway saw the weekends of Astuti Motorsport pair Michael Trimble and Andy Knight move...
MIXED FORTUNES FOR ASTUTI MOTORSPORT ACES ON THE ISLAND
Round 6 of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star at Phillip Island Raceway saw the weekends of Astuti Motorsport pair Michael Trimble and Andy Knight move in opposite directions.
After a strong test day on Wednesday, where Trimble lapped quickly and F3 debutant Knight came to grips with the circuit and car, the weekend of competition started strongly for the team.
Trimble topped the practice timesheets aboard the King Springs Renault-Sodemo Dallara F304, with New Zealander Knight in sixth place, less than a second behind. The Melbournian then went on to qualify third on the grid for Race 1, just 0.0338 off pole, and fourth for Race 2.
In the opening encounter, Trimble moved up to second place in the early laps. He maintained the position for the remainder of the 14-lap duration, before finishing fourth in Race 2.
"It's been a disappointing weekend," mused Trimble. "We came into the weekend after the really productive test on Wednesday, and then we were so close in qualifying to getting pole position.
"But then we just struggled a little bit for speed in the races, which we weren't able to put our finger on.
"I guess it shows how hungry we are for success. A lot of other teams and drivers in this series and other series' would be happy with a second and a fourth, but it isn't really what we had in mind for the weekend."
Right behind him was Knight. Fifth place was a good reward, after electrical teething problems with the teams new Renault-Sodemo Dallara F304 lost him valuable track-time as he came to grips with Formula 3.
The gremlins, which also forced Knight out of Race 1, were rectified for the second and final race of the weekend. From 12th on the grid, Knight charged up to seventh on the opening lap, and picked up another pair of positions on the following tour.
He continued to improve his laptimes across the remainder of the race, eventually ending with the third fastest lap of the race, 1:28.2489.
"It's great to finish a race and finish where we did, after the problems we had," he said. "We missed out on so much running with this car this weekend, so the car wasn't as good as it could have been, but we had new tyres for Race 2 which was an advantage.
"I could have closed the gap and tried to pass Michael but there wasn't really any need to risk a crash between the two cars."
The late decision to run at Phillip Island resulted in a worthwhile learning experience for the 20 year-old, who has open-wheel experience in New Zealand, Australia and America.
"I learnt a lot about the cars and how to drive them," Knight said. "The races were about pushing hard, and learning what the car feels like when you are running close to someone else like I was with Michael.
"Now we have the new car problems sorted we can go to Queensland and really try for a result."
With six of eight rounds down in the 2006 season, Trimble maintains second place in the series standings, while Knight slots into 11th place with his Phillip Island results.
"The weekend started off well," said Astuti Motorsport team owner Sam Astuti. "Qualifying was very close and we weren't far from the pace.
"Then today it was quite windy for the races, which made it hard to judge setup. We needed a bit of luck, but unfortunately it didn't go out way.
"In Race 1, we were up there with Michael's car, but we weren't quite sure why we lost a bit of speed.
"I'm really happy for Andy. He had to endure some problems with his car that really limited the amount of running that he could do especially in practice and qualifying.
"But in Race 2 he drove well and was able to pick up some places and complete a full race distance."
The penultimate round of the 2006 season will be held at Queensland Raceway on September 2-3.