CHAMPIONSHIP TIED UP AS MACROW, ALAJAJIAN AND KOSTERA BECOME THE BIG WINNERS AT EASTERN CREEK Tim Macrow and Chris Alajajian share the lead in the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 championship following today's first round, held at Eastern Creek...
CHAMPIONSHIP TIED UP AS MACROW, ALAJAJIAN AND KOSTERA BECOME THE BIG WINNERS AT EASTERN CREEK
Tim Macrow and Chris Alajajian share the lead in the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 championship following today's first round, held at Eastern Creek Raceway at the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport meeting.
Stuart Kostera and Macrow split the two race victories -- Kostera the first and Macrow the second -- whilst Alajajian was his aggressive best in each race scything through the field to score a pair of second place results in the most consistent performance of the weekend.
The first race got underway with a storming start from Kostera, from pole, and Alajajian -- who charged from the fourth row of the starting grid to be inside the top three at the second turn.
Behind the leaders all hell broke loose, Austrian driver Walter Grubmuller (Astuti) dived up the inside of Marco Mapelli in turn two, the pair both suffering damage and the first casualties of the 2007 racing season. Leanne Tander and James Winslow were also caught up in the incident but avoided any damage and resumed at the back of the field behind a short safety car period.
Meanwhile Alajajian was at his thundering best, storming around the outside of Tim Macrow at the 230kph turn one on lap four. The pair ran side-by-side through the following turns two and three before Sydneysider Alajajian gained the ascendancy and set out about chasing leader Kostera.
Kostera held on to win a tight race -- surviving a last lap charge from Alajajian to win by just three tenths of a second in a Team BRM 1 -- 2.
Macrow headed home Mat Sofi, whilst James Winslow and Leanne Tander recovered to finish fifth and sixth respectively, after charging their way through the field.
The second race featured yet another charge from Alajajian, who worked his way through from an eighth-placed starting position to once again finish second.
Out in front it was all Macrow, who lead from the front row of the grid and scored a comfortable victory -- picking up where he left of at the end of 2006 and showing that the Scud / Cooltemp / Macrow combination will be one to beat this season.
The only notable incident occurred, once again, at the beginning of the race, Mat Sofi coming together with Charlie Hollings at the second turn -- eliminating Sofi and sending the Astuti driver to the back of the field for the second consecutive race.
A safety car nullified the action for a further two laps whilst Sofi's stricken R-Tek machine was removed from the Turn two sand trap.
James Winslow ran third early, before slipping back through the order after a frantic five car dice in the early laps of the race.
Walter Grubmuller posted a strong drive to finish third whilst Leanne Tander survived an off at turn two and yet another charge through the field to finish fourth. Race 1 winner Stuart Kostera finished fifth to consolidate his points haul.
Marco Mapelli, James Winslow and Charlie Hollings completed the group of leading competitors.
New joint championship leaders Tim Macrow and Chris Alajajian were both justifiably satisfied with their performances.
"We made a lot of changes for the second race and we got it right," Macrow said.
"I'm very, very, very happy with the performance. We've got a new engine coming for the next round which will only make things better. I need to thank the team -- Gary, Pete, Scud Racing and Bevan Carrick -- for their help.
"It's a great start to the championship to start like this and hopefully we can carry on."
Two storming drives -- including a pair of fastest race laps and two bonus points - left Alajajian pleased with his first-up performance with Team BRM for 2007.
"It makes such a difference driving with a great team with lots of resources and information like Team BRM," the Sydneysider said.
"I had to go out and push as hard as I could. I'm not certain that we will be doing the full championship so I wanted to make as big an impact as possible. It was great fun to make some overtaking moves and race as hard as I could."
Kostera scored his maiden Formula 3 win in the opening race, further enhancing his credentials as a championship contender after his rich vein of form shown at the conclusion of the 2006 season.
"I'm obviously really happy with that performance," Said Kostera, who now sits just three points out of the championship lead.
"In the second race I had a go at the start but it got a bit crazy so I just went for the points. The strong first race set us up really well but there was only so much I could do from eighth on the grid for the second race.
"It's been a good start for the championship, which is the important thing."
2006 Asian F3 Champion, Briton James Winslow had a tough weekend but salvaged solid championship points for his campaign with Piccola Scuderia, whilst Italian Marco Mapelli recovered well from his race one non-finish to post sixth in race two.
Chris Barry dominated the Kumho National Class, scoring a perfect 44 points in a storming weekend, Whilst Rod Anderson was the leading light in Trophy Class -- another driver with a perfect score.
The Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship class of 2007 will next be in action at the 2007 Formula 1 ING Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne this March.
The non-championship event is set to feature one of the biggest fields ever assembled on Australian soil with a further international drivers -- to compliment the four already in the series - set to visit.