RECORD F3 FIELD SET FOR EASTERN CREEK
The biggest ever Formula 3 field ever assembled on Australian Soil will take to the track during the penultimate round of the 2005 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 championship for the CAMS Gold Star at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway in two weeks time.
26 cars have entered the A1 Grand Prix of Nations Australian support event, not only making it the biggest field in the series' six-year history but also by far and away the most competitive.
Headlining the entry list is a two-car nomination from crack German Formula 3 operation Swiss Racing Team, who will bring two F304 Dallara -- Speiss' cars over from the competitive European scene for a one-off appearance at the event. SRT, headed up by Swiss Engineer Othmar Welti (who visited the Australian championship at Phillip Island two months ago), will run cars for Asian drivers Jeffery Lee and Michael Ho.
Current points leader Aaron Caratti headlines the domestic entrants, the West Australian driver coming into the Eastern Creek round leading the championship by a massive 61 points with just four races -- two rounds -- remaining.
Caratti need only leave the round leading the championship by 44 points to clinch his first ever Australian Drivers Championship title with a round to spare -- although the hard charging driver is unlikely to hold back and drive for points considering the audience set to be on hand at the prestigious event.
Joining Caratti in a strong Insight F3 squad will be Aaron's younger brother Nathan. The younger of the Caratti's has two F3 starts to his name - both coming at Queensland Raceway's fourth round in June this year - and has been racing National Formula Ford full time this season. Team owner David Borg, who will start his third round of the year in the team's F301-Speiss entry, will ably back up the Caratti brothers in a three-car Insight F3 attack.
And whilst Aaron Caratti will be aiming to take his first championship crown at the Sydney track, two returning Champions are set to make the West Australian driver work as hard as possible for his prize -- 2004 champ Karl Reindler and '03 title winner Michael Caruso both returning to gain some international exposure in front of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations teams.
Reindler -- who contested the series' third round at Phillip Island in May - will drive for the team in which he took his 2004 title; Team BRM, whilst Caruso will be hoping to regain his early season race winning form with Piccola Scuderia Corse, the Victorian taking a race win with the Sydney based team at the Mallala round back in April this year.
Caruso wont be Piccola Scuderia's only hope though, Leanne Tander set to make her second Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 start in the same car she drove in her F3 debut back in May this year -- scoring two top five finishes in an impressive performance.
Currently second in the championship, Victorian Michael Trimble will be keen to see if a change of teams changes his chances for a shot at this year's title, a switch from Team BRM to Astuti Motorsport between rounds designed to give Trimble some new experiences in what is still his F3 learning year.
Queensland based Cooltemp racing will make their return to the championship with a strong attack, fielding a newly liveried F304 Dallara for 2004 series' runner up Chris Gilmour. The team have recently conducted an extremely successful competition to design the new paint scheme set to adorn the car at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations Australian event. Gilmour currently sits fourth in the championship, 12 points outside of the top three.
The man that Queensland's leading hope needs to catch will prove a tough nut to crack, Protecnica Racing's Chris Alajajian desperate to bounce back from a difficult sixth round of the championship that resulted in a damaged car and hold on to his current third place in the championship.
Also looking to bounce back with a vengeance at Eastern Creek will be 2004 Australian Formula Ford Championship runner-up Tim Macrow, who despite showing blistering speed all season has been so far unable to convert it into race wins.
And whilst the battle at the front of the field is set to reach a new level of intensity, the fight to be the leading contender in the Kumho Tyres Australian Trophy Class is set to be just as tight, a season high eight entrants taking to the track in Australian F3's "Class within a class" for older model Formula 3 cars.
Current points leader Bill Maddocks will be aiming to consolidate his position at the top of the charts after a strong run to date in his Scud Racing Dallara F396, whilst at the same time helping rookie Team-mate Lauren Gray continue her fast learning curve in 'Wings and Slicks' open wheelers.
Gray will be looking for solid improvement during her second visit to the 3.9km Sydney track after a successful test at Winton recently that saw her slash her previous best lap times by significant margins.
Graeme Holmes, Rod Anderson and F3 Returnee Mike Beeley also feature amongst the strong Trophy contingent entered for the round.
The Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship will be a major support act at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney, with the eventual winner of the series' set to receive a test drive with A1 Team Australia at the conclusion of the year.