TANDER DOES THE RAIN DANCE WHILST McFADYEN LOVES THE DRY IN A DAY OF CHANGES AT MALLALA
Two vastly different sessions have produced two vastly different starting orders for tomorrows' Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship races after an action packed day today at Mallala raceway.
Qualifying one was held on a wet racetrack that dried as the 20-minute session progressed, whilst the afternoons second session was a thriller with the lead changing several times in the first truly dry conditions the F3 cars have experienced this weekend.
Leanne Tander topped the first session by a massive one-second margin over Nathan Caratti (Team BRM), whilst Neil McFadyen withstood the attacks of several drivers to score pole for race two -- his fourth for the season.
In qualifying one Tander timed her lap perfectly to score the top spot by over a second, ahead of Caratti and South Australian driver Nick Percat (#4 Walkinshaw Performance Team BRM F307 -- Mercedes).
The track started fully wet however a drying surface as the session entered its last five minutes ensured a dramatic end to the session with times quickly dropping -- until Tander was able to bank her lap within the last minute to score her third pole position of the year.
National class driver Karl Reindler was an astounding fourth outright in his R-Tek Motorsport Dallara F304 Spiess, finishing ahead of Stuart Kostera, Mat Sofi, Neil McFadyen and rookie John Magro -- with Chris Gilmour the next of the National Class runners in ninth.
Qualifying two turned into a shootout for pole -- the top spot changing hands with free abandon before Neil McFadyen was able to turn a last-ditch lap to score the top spot in his Piccola Scuderia #27 entry.
Caratti was again second, ahead of Nick Percat, Sofi and Kostera.
The top four cars were covered by just .18s, setting up a tantalisingly close battle for the outright honours in race two tomorrow.
Karl Reindler held off Lee Farrell to score his second F3 National Class pole position of the day in the second session, though Farrell was importantly ahead of championship rival Chris Gilmour - who was able to extend a clear lead over his season long rival at Oran Park three weeks ago.
Behind the leading contenders, Gold Star championship leader James Winslow struggled badly today in his Astuti Motorsport Dallara -- struggling to rebound from an interrupted day testing earlier this week.
Winslow will start 11th in race one and 9th in the second.
Andrew Mill topped local driver Jesse Wakeman in both Trophy class sessions.
"It was one of those sessions where the track was slippery so we had to bank a lap when we had clear track in front," Neil McFadyen said.
"Getting heat into the tyres was important to go and get a lap time. It was good to get onto the front row and give us the best chance for tomorrow.
"We were aiming for a dry setup in race one but the rain came before the session started to we were a bit caught out and that was the end result. I'm pretty confident that we have the speed - so if we have that we can pass and get to the front." He said.
Leanne Tander said her race one effort was one of appropriate timing.
"I'm really happy, the car was great," she enthused.
"I was pretty confident that we were able to do it -- things went to plan. Wet sessions are all about right place, right time and I was able to time my lap at the right point and get pole position.
"I was a bit disappointed with qualifying two because the car was capable of getting pole position but I didn't quite make the most of it.
"We are third on the grid which isn't too bad -- I'm pretty confident that we will go well in the race." She said.
National class polesitter Karl Reindler said that he was praying for rain tomorrow.
"We really only have a hope of racing the outright cars if it rains in the races," Reindler said of his National class, F304 specification Dallara.
"It's great to be back in these cars -- they are fantastic to drive and are great fun. We're having well but we need rain to compete with the 07 cars."
Two, 14-lap races will contest round four of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star.
James Winslow leads the race for the 52nd Australian Drivers Championship ahead of Neil McFadyen, Nathan Caratti and Leanne Tander.