Gilmour Back On Track At Mallala After a traumatic previous outing at the Australian Grand Prix, the success story at Mallala last weekend was Gilmour Racing beating the odds, and hitting the track for round two of the 2005 Kumho...
Gilmour Back On Track At Mallala
After a traumatic previous outing at the Australian Grand Prix, the success story at Mallala last weekend was Gilmour Racing beating the odds, and hitting the track for round two of the 2005 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship. At the non-championship round in Melbourne, Chris Gilmour was T-boned, leaving the car's monocoque punctured, and damaged beyond repair. Even worse for the team, Chris Gilmour broke his leg, sustaining a four-inch long fracture to his fibula.
The team was able to cannibalise the rear end of the car, which was remarkably undamaged in the accident, and they bought a new Dallara F301 tub from Japan. Gilmour Racing were not sure if they were even going to make it to Mallala until only a couple days before the event started. Chris Gilmour could be seen hobbling around the paddock, after having his leg broken only six weeks earlier, and only got off crutches for the first time on Friday.
At round one of the championship, held at Wakefield Park in February, Gilmour finished race one sixth, and race two in fourth, finishing the weekend fifth in the standings.
Getting into a Formula 3 car for the first time since his crash at the Grand Prix, Chris Gilmour took his time, and quietly went about his business. To complicate matters for the team, it was also the first time they had run the car with the new monocoque, so they were unsure whether or not the car would have any niggling issues. Thankfully it did not, and Chris even reported that the new car felt better than before in the initial turn-in points for corners. The session was used mainly to see whether or not Chris was actually capable of driving, and not setting blistering lap times. When the first practice session was over, Chris Gilmour was very sore, after doing 20 laps. He set a best time of 1:05.9205min, placing him eighth in the session standings.
The second practice session went much better for Gilmour Racing. Gilmour climbed into the cockpit with a heavily strapped leg, hoping that it would help alleviate the pain he suffered in first practice. Mechanically, the team was able to make a few changes that helped the performance. Chris completed 25 laps, more than any other driver, and improved his first practice time by nearly a whole second, saying that the car's balance and handling were very good. Best of all, Gilmour Racing was leading the timesheets when the session was over, setting a best time of 1:04.9414min.
Going into the first qualifying session, the team were confident of a good showing. Unfortunately, the car was slow out of the hairpin in second gear, losing Chris vital time. Gilmour completed 15 laps, and logged a best time of 1:04.3842min -- further improving his personal best. But the time was only good enough for place him sixth in the session standings. He would start Sunday's first race on the third row of the grid.
Before the second qualifying session, the Gilmour Racing crew made some small adjustments to the suspension settings, and felt they could be real contenders in the session. Sadly, on Gilmour's sixth qualifying lap, second gear broke, and that ended the team's session. Gilmour set a fastest time 1:05.3201min, placing him in seventh on the grid, and he would start race two from the fourth row.
As the lights went out to start the first race, Chris stalled for the first time in his Formula 3 career, and was relegated to last position in the field. By the end of the first lap, Gilmour charged through to seventh place. On the second lap, Chris got ahead of Cody Leibel to move into sixth, and on lap four, Chris passed Tim Slade to move into fifth. After having lost too much time working through the field, Chris had too much ground to make up, and had to settle for fifth place in the race. Chris took consolation out of the overall pace that the car displayed.
They say adversity builds character, and if that is the case, Chris did a lot of character building on Sunday. Chris had a horrid start as the lights went out, and headed into the first corner in tenth position, desperately needing to quickly gain position. Chris dispatched Leibel, and set after Marc Williams, passing him on the third lap, putting himself into eighth position.
Next on the list was Tim Macrow. Chris passed Macrow on the fifth lap, and hunted down Ricky Occhipinti. Just as Chris was harrying Occhipinti on lap eight, Macrow snuck past Chris, and stole seventh place. Ahead, Macrow then passed Slade, which gave Chris an opportunity to pass the local. He did so on lap eleven, and once again found himself behind Macrow. The pair stuck together, and quickly caught up to Occhipinti, who had been able to build a small gap in the confusion.
Macrow was unable to get ahead of Occhipinti, and Gilmour took it upon himself to take action. With only four laps remaining, he did an unheard of pass, diving under Macrow into the flip-flop section, claiming sixth position. The race progressed to the twentieth and final lap, and Occhipinti was well within Gilmour's sights. Chris felt he was capable of passing Occhipinti in the last corner, but coming out of the hairpin, Occhipinti slowed, and Gilmour both avoided and passed him with all four wheels on the grass. Chris Gilmour crossed the line to finish the race in fifth for the second time.
The pair of fifth place results was worth 8 points apiece, adding 16 points to Chris Gilmour's championship total. Gilmour now has 32 points from the first two rounds, and continues to sit in fifth position in the championship point standings with six rounds remaining.
Sadly, Chris Gilmour's medical problems continued when he went to hospital after the round, and had surgery on left hand to fix prior damage. Currently Chris' hand is covered in plaster, and Gilmour Racing's next challenge will be getting his hand fit enough to contest the next round 3 of the 2005 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship at Phillip Island, Victoria, on May 20-22.
Chris Gilmour would in particular like to thank his father, Errol Gilmour, who put untold time and effort into gathering the needed parts, and rebuilding the entire car. Without his devotion, the team would never have set foot on Mallala this weekend.
Gilmour Racing would like to thank Gary and Linda Smith of Identity Plus for their hospitality and support, PM Lubricants, Micheal Harders of Revolution Racegear for the new racesuit, Gilmour Developments, and Craig at Team BRM for helping the team find a new tub.