F3

AUSF3: Eastern Creek round one Saturday report

TANDER GETS FIRST POLE OF SEASON AND CARATTI FIRST OF F3 CAREER IN SYDNEY Leanne Tander today scored the first point of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship by taking pole position for race one to be held at Eastern Creek ...

TANDER GETS FIRST POLE OF SEASON AND CARATTI FIRST OF F3 CAREER IN SYDNEY

Leanne Tander today scored the first point of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship by taking pole position for race one to be held at Eastern Creek tomorrow.

In another first, West Australian driver Nathan Caratti scored his first career Formula 3 pole thanks to a stunning effort in qualifying held for race two, snaring the top spot in his Opes Prime Team BRM Dallara after the chequered flag had flown in a dramatic end to the session.

Tander was able to bank her best lap -- 1m24.0969 -- early in the session but then had to wait as her nearest rivals whittled down their laps to get close to her time.

Kiwi Earl Bamber and Nathan Caratti came close -- both were less than two-tenths from pole at the end of the 20 minutes -- but Tander was left with enough space to claim the first championship point of the 2008 season.

"I'm really happy, we made a lot of changes to the car overnight and it worked," she enthused.

"The track changed a lot overnight so we had to work out changes to the car to suit how we thought it would be, and it paid off. We're really happy to come out of the box and put it on pole, it's an ideal start to the year." She said.

Tander went on to qualify fourth for the second race to cap off a solid day for the TanderSport team.

The afternoons session saw times dramatically slower than the first thanks to the amount of A1GP rubber laid down, however the session was even more competitive.

After 20 minutes of fluctuating results and tumbling times, Caratti snatched pole position after the flag had flown, bumping his team mates Earl Bamber back to second and third, respectively, and taking the top spot by a meagre .075s.

The stunning result gave Opes Prime Team BRM their first ever 1-2-3 in qualifying, locking out almost all of the front two rows of the grid.

"It was a great session and I was just able to get the lap in the end," he said.

"I'm very pleased. We need to do the job tomorrow in the race but it's been a good day to get a pole and a second."

Earl Bamber was in the box seat to claim the top spot before Caratti dropped him to second, the 17-year old Kiwi sensation missing out on his first pole by less than one tenth of a second in just his first round in a Formula 3 car.

A bitterly disappointed James Winslow was the third of the BRM runners and held the top spot for a moment in the second session, before traffic hindered a run that potentially could have put him on pole.

"I'm pretty angry because I was on a lap my dash showed that was three-tenths quicker than my best, which would've been enough for pole position but then traffic ruined it," he rued. "I could've been on pole, but instead I'm third. The slower cars just ruined it."

Neil McFadyen qualified strongly today despite still lacking setup and development time with his new Piccola Scuderia Dallara F307, scoring sixth and fifth overall today a solid return on their hard work since the car turned its first laps yesterday.

Mat Sofi (Total Developments / Transwest Racing) scored results the exact mirror of McFadyen but was pleased to be closer to the pace today following issues throughout practice yesterday.

"We had a sticking throttle that, when I took my foot off, would stop at 50% throttle which was costing us time," he said.

"We didn't quite get the results we wanted today but given the problems yesterday we're happy to be near the front. The team is doing a great job and we're pretty close to the front so I think we can challenge."

In the Opes Prime National Class a pair of Chris' split the pole honours, 18 year old Reindler giving TanderSport a pair of class poles in the first session whilst Gilmour was the man to beat in the second.

Reindler crashed heavily just after setting his fastest lap in the first session and his team worked strongly to get it back on track to enable him to qualify for the second race tomorrow.

Gilmour's performance was a return to form for the affable Queenslander after a difficult day in practice.

Fellow Queenslander Andrew Mill was similarly impressive in the F3 Trophy Class (For '01 model cars), with a performance that included a stunning 13th outright in qualifying two.

Two, 13-lap races will be contested tomorrow to fight out the opening round of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship

Qualifying 1 Results:
1. Leanne Tander 1:24.0969
2. Nathan Caratti + 0.1492
3. Earl Bamber + 0.1609
4. James Winslow + 0.4044
5. Mathew Sofi + 0.4201

National Class: Chris Reindler 1:26.1294
Trophy Class: Andrew Mill 1:28.5049

Practice 2 Results:
1. Nathan Caratti 1:26.3211
2. Earl Bamber + 0.0759
3. James Winslow + 0.3146
4. Leanne Tander + 0.4982
5. Neil McFadyen + 0.8029

National Class: Chris Gilmour 1m28.6628
Trophy Class: Andrew Mill 1m30.1189

-credit: www.formula3.com.au

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About this article
Series F3
Drivers Neil McFadyen , James Winslow , Leanne Tander , Earl Bamber , Nathan Caratti , Mathew Sofi , Chris Gilmour , Andrew Mill