F3

AUSF3: Eastern Creek round one race report

NATHAN CARATTI DOMINATES ABBREVIATED SEASON OPENER AT EASTERN CREEK Nathan Caratti has had a perfect start to the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship after dominating the only race held at Eastern Creek raceway today. The second...

NATHAN CARATTI DOMINATES ABBREVIATED SEASON OPENER AT EASTERN CREEK

Nathan Caratti has had a perfect start to the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship after dominating the only race held at Eastern Creek raceway today.

The second race was cancelled after just for laps -- all of them behind the safety car - due to torrentially wet conditions that left the circuit flooded and unsafe for the cars to race at any speed.

Starting from the outside of the front row, Caratti made the best start of the race, topped the 21-car field into the first corner and was then never headed -- despite resisting race-long pressure from team-mate James Winslow.

Like his Opes Prime Team BRM Team-mate, Winslow jumped ahead of polesitter Leanne Tander in the opening few corners of race one and ran second for the duration, never more than 1.5 seconds behind Caratti.

Tander was a disappointed third whilst the third of the BRM trio, 17-year-old New Zealander Earl Bamber finished fourth in his debut Formula 3 performance.

However all had to trail Caratti who lead lights-to-flag to record his maiden Formula 3 win and leap to an early lead in the race for the Australian Drivers Championship.

"I got a good start which put us into the lead straight away," Nathan Caratti said.

"After that it was all about controlling the race and I was able to settle into a comfortable groove. I'm really happy to take my first win and with it being the first round of the season it's a perfect start for us. There were a couple of moments through traffic when I saw that James (Winslow) was catching up but I never really felt that threatened.

"It was about keeping the car on track and not making any mistakes." He said.

Winslow said he was pleased to record second place in the season opener after a difficult start to the weekend.

"I got a good start in the race and made up a place, which helped get us onto the podium -- and then I made another place later in the first lap," he explained.

"We had some setup problems earlier in the weekend but we worked through them and in the end we had a lot of pace. It's a shame we didn't run the second race but in the end we're leaving in second position which is great."

Behind the top four, a recovering Neil McFadyen and Mat Sofi completed the top six.

McFadyen, in his return to the Australian Drivers Championship with Sydney based Piccola Scuderia, had a slow start and dropped to seventh on the opening lap before working his way through the National class competitors to score a solid points haul from the first round.

Sofi was another to struggle in his first race start of the season and slipped even further back through the field only to recover strongly and post a solid sixth place finish.

Stuart Kostera (Scud Racing) finished seventh whilst Ray Chamberlain, running the only 2004-spec chassis in the championship class -- finished eighth in class.

In the Opes Prime National Class Irishman Lee Farrell completed a top day for Team BRM by recording a class victory, but it wasn't until he was forced to dice with Chris Gilmour and Chris Reindler at different stages throughout the race.

Farrell now leads the National Class race for $40,000 cash or the opportunity to negotiate a funded championship class drive in 2008.

Andrew Mill was too good for his rivals in the Trophy Class, taking a comfortable class victory.

The second round of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship will be held at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide between February 21 -- 24.

It will mark the first time that the Formula 3 'wings and slicks' racers will have competed on the famed street circuit since 2004. A formula 3 driver -- Ian Dyk -- holds the outright track record in Adelaide at 1m19.49s.

Race 1 Results:
1. Nathan Caratti (Opes Prime Team BRM)
2. James Winslow (Opes Prime Team BRM)
3. Leanne Tander (TanderSport)
4. Earl Bamber (TanderSport)
5. Neil McFadyen (Piccola Scuderia Corse)

National Class: Lee Farrell (Opes Prime Team BRM)
Trophy Class: Andrew Mill (Property Solutions. Group)

Championship Points:
1. Nathan Caratti 21
2. James Winslow 15
3. Leanne Tander 13
4. Earl Bamber 10
5. Neil McFadyen 9

-credit: www.formula3.com.au

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About this article
Series F3
Drivers Neil McFadyen , Ian Dyk , James Winslow , Leanne Tander , Earl Bamber , Stuart Kostera , Nathan Caratti , Chris Gilmour , Ray Chamberlain , Andrew Mill