TRIMBLE DOMINATES, TANDER ON PODIUM IN F3 SEASON FINALE
Victorian driver Michael Trimble has dominated today's final two races of the 2005 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star Award, taking two dominating wins in perfect racing conditions at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway.
After posting similarly crushing times in qualifying yesterday, Trimble simply drove away from an aggressive field in today's two 13-lap encounters - winning the opening race by 12 seconds and the second one by almost 15.
The results bookend a tough season for the 20-year-old Astuti Motorsport driver after he won the second race at the opening round of the series' all the way back in late February this year.
It was, however, a very different Trimble that won today compared to the one who scored a lucky win in round 1, Trimble almost Caratti-like in success at Eastern Creek this weekend.
"It's a great way to end the season, just fantastic," he enthused after winning the second race. "It would have been nice to have had Aaron here so we could have beaten him as well, but I'm just happy to end what has been a really tough year on a positive note.
"The car was just so consistent today, much better than the last round and it was just great to get out in front.
"It would've been nice to have done this all season long, but it's a great way to end the year." He said.
Trimble's results secured him second outright in this year's chase for the CAMS Gold Star, rival Chris Alajajian having a tough weekend in the Protecnica racing Dallara.
Alajajian stalled at the line in the opening race and was forced to cut his way through the field in his usual aggressive fashion, taking advantage of a number of off-track excursions by his rivals to secure a lucky second place in a car that had the pace to challenge for the lead.
The Sydneysider was just as unfortunate in the second race, Alajajian receiving a black flag for a jumped start and yet again being forced to work his way through the field to an eventual fourth place in the second 13 lap affair.
"It was good to at least finish the year showing that we have the pace to win," he said. "Hopefully we've got rid of all our bad luck this season so we can go out and win if we return in 2006."
Leanne Tander scored her first ever Formula 3 podium in the second race, taking advantage of Alajajian's misfortune to hold of James Cressey and Chris Gilmour in a race-long dice for the minor podium positions.
Tander became the first woman to stand on a Formula 3 podium in Australia in the process, the second-place result backing up the fifth she scored in race one after an off track excursion relegated her off the podium.
Tander's performance this weekend should bode as a serious warning for potential rivals in 2006, the former Formula Ford race winner still not entirely happy with her results.
"I think that I had fairly even speed with the two cars I was battling with (Cressey and Gilmour), so it was a really good battle for the position," Tander said.
"I flat-spotted my tyres, so it was a really tough battle. We still want to be much faster, but this weekend's been a good start with the new car.
"We should be very competitive in 2006." She said.
Tander's hard fought second place in race two was aided by contact behind her -- Cressey and Gilmour coming together on the final lap of the race at turn two after Gilmour tried a brave move around the outside of his Kiwi rival.
"I was waiting for James to have a go at Leanne, but he didn't," explained Gilmour after the race. "So I did instead! James and I just rubbed wheels as we went side-by side, so it was just one of those things.
"At least we were competitive again in what was our last race with this car." He said.
"I just rubbed wheels with Chris," Cressey agreed after finishing third -- improving on his opening race fourth place finish.
"It was a really tough race and it's nice to get a podium, which is really what we set out to do this weekend considering the dramas we had trying to find some speed."
The battle for the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Trophy Class was decided in the favour of Scud Racing driver Bill Maddocks, who held of Marc Williams and Graeme Holmes in a day of changing fortunes for the Trophy Class contenders.
Maddocks claimed his second Trophy championship -- he won the series in 2003 in a three way tie with Chris Coombs and David Borg -- with a consistent pair of third place in class results today.
"Considering where this car was three weeks ago after the massive crash at A1 Grand Prix, it's really great to seal the title here this weekend," said Maddocks.
"The guys have just done an astounding job to get this car back together; they have worked massive hours to get us here.
"It's been a really tough championship this season. Our weekend was made easier by Rod (Anderson) not starting today and Marc (Williams) having his crash in race one, so we really just went out and scored points." He said.
Graeme Holmes won the class in race one, whilst 16-year old Kiwi Williams rebounded from an opening race coming-together with the wall to win a tough battle in race two. <pre> Final Championship Points:
Outright: 1. Aaron Caratti Insight F3 242 2. Michael Trimble Astuti Motorsport / Team BRM 210 3. Chris Alajajian Protecnica Racing 178 4. Chris Gilmour Gilmour Racing 142 5. Tim Macrow Macrow Racing 73 6. Leanne Tander Garth Tander Racing 52
Trophy: 1. Bill Maddocks Scud Racing 182 2. Graeme Holmes GKH Powdecoating 173 3. Marc Williams Team BRM 160 4. Rod Anderson Hack, Anderson and Thomas 116 5. Lauren Gray Scud Racing 88