ALAJAJIAN LOOKING TO CONTINUE STRONG FORM AT F3 SEASON FINALE
Protecnica Racing's Chris Alajajian heads into this weekend's final round of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway with one thing firmly in his mind - second place in the championship.
To achieve it and move up from his current third place in the standings, Alajajian's target for the round is simple. He needs to score at least 18 more points than Michael Trimble during the weekend.
It will be a tough task, with just 44 points on offer across the two races. However last month's A1 Grand Prix of Nations F3 support races, also at Eastern Creek, showed that it is possible.
A race win and a third place finish cut the gap significantly from 40 points down to the current 18, providing a good platform to build upon this weekend.
"That was a good start to what we wanted to achieve," says Alajajian, 19. "We did so well at A1, to have the car working very well and then be consistent and successful in the races.
"I don't think it was anything in particular there that was very different to previous rounds, but it was a little bit of everything.
"I worked with Dan [Protecnica Racing chief engineer Dan Lousada] on a couple of aspects of my driving that he felt could be improved. I listened to him, and changed what I was doing.
"The outcome is what he said was right and we fixed it. So that was one of those little things that were part of the turnaround for the weekend which hopefully we can carry into this weekend."
The win in race two of the November 4-6 race meeting was a defining moment for Protecnica Racing.
After countless race successes and championship wins in touring car championships in previous years, it was the team's first open-wheel race win.
Even more impressive is that prior to July, the team had never campaigned an open wheel car of any description, let alone an intricate Formula 3 racer.
"It was great to give the guys a win at Eastern Creek," said the Sydneysider, "they have put their best into it ever since they started in Formula 3.
"Each race meeting, they have been getting more experience and we have been getting closer to where we want to be.
"This weekend, we will keep our head down and aim for second in the championship, which would be a great result considering a couple of bad rounds we had and all the off-track movement during the year."
The weekend will be the fourth and final time Alajajian races around the 3.93km circuit in western Sydney.
Formula 3 has already visited the venue twice this year, and 'The Chris' also raced a Subaru WRX STi at Eastern Creek in the Donut King Australian Performance Car Championship earlier in the year.
He holds an enviable set of results at the circuit. In F3 competition, he hasn't finished off the podium, and has scored three race wins at the circuit across the two categories.
"I can't really look at it as being the exactly same track as it would've been the other times I've raced there, because it is always different," Alajajian says.
"Every time you go out there, it feels different. There might be another little bump out there, there might be a piece of dirt that wasn't there in the last session or the last race meeting, or the grip levels might have changed, so you have to give it the respect it deserves every lap.
"That's my approach to it, so we will see how it goes. The weather will be important, especially if it is raining, which is apparently a chance."
The F3 action kicks off on Friday with practice, before qualifying on Saturday and a pair of races on Sunday.
"I'm really looking forward to this weekend. At A1 we knew what we had to do, and we did it.
"Now we have to make sure we step up again this weekend, keep our heads down like we did at A1 and try to continue our good form."
Protecnica Racing thanks the ongoing support of Jack Hillermans Smash, Elf Oil, Scuderia Veloce Motors, Nudie, Workflow Systems, Bilstein, Moody Kiddell & Partners, Heasman Steering, Travel Cafe, Disc Brakes Australia, Hawk Performance, Monza Mens Boutique and H & R Springs.