2005 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship Round 1 -- Wakefield Park, Goulburn, NSW, February 26-27 - New cars, new drivers and new winners Round 1 of the 2005 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship got underway at Goulburn's...
2005 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship
Round 1 -- Wakefield Park, Goulburn, NSW, February 26-27 - New cars, new drivers and new winners
Round 1 of the 2005 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship got underway at Goulburn's Wakefield Park last weekend, and if the on-track action is any indication of what's in store for the rest of the season, we are in for an exciting year.
Astuti Competition's Chris Alajajian took a maiden F3 victory in Race 1, the talented 18 year-old proving that he can drive anything he steps in to. Hot on the heels of his 2004 Production Car Championship win, Alajajian will be a contender for this year's 2005 Kumho Tyres Australian F3 Championship. Alajajian led home Astuti Competition teammate Aaron Caratti. Caratti started from pole and led for fifteen laps before running wide while trying to pass a back-marker.
Caratti reflected on his off-track excursion, which probably cost him his first victory in F3. "I was probably a bit ambitious, but then he should probably have left me a bit more room. But I'm still happy with the performance of the car and know I can win races. The car is fantastic. Sam (Astuti) & David (Borg) have put together a great team with which I know I can win the Championship."
Team BRM's Michael Trimble rounded out the top three in Race 1, scoring a podium in his first ever F3 race. Trimble's Team BRM team mate Tim Slade finished a solid fourth ahead of Michael Caruso, the 2003 Australian Formula 3 Champion. Caruso has returned to F3 for another tilt at the title, albeit with a new team, this time pairing up with Piccola Scuderia Corse, the same team that guided Peter Hackett to his title in 2001.
Chris Gilmour meanwhile was reliable as ever in sixth place ahead of Nic Jordan and Mat Sofi. Astuti Competition's third driver Sam Abay finished a respectable ninth in the team's Dallara F301 Spiess Opel, the same car campaigned by Ian Dyk so successfully last year while Tim Berryman rounded out the top ten (and claimed victory in the Kumho Tyres Trophy Class) in the Ramon Racing Dallara F396.
Chris Alajajian set the fastest lap of the race, his time of 0:54.9057 also a new lap record, eclipsing Ian Dyk's benchmark of 0:55.0245 set last year.
If Race 1 was a promise of what was to come, then Race 2 fulfilled all expectations. The incident-packed race provided action aplenty from the outset with pole-sitter Caratti, stalling his car on the warm-up lap, relegated him to the back of the grid. This set the scene for an absolutely storming drive by Caratti through the sixteen car field which saw him claw his way back to second, a mere 2/10ths behind eventual race winner, Michael Trimble.
Trimble drove a measured race to claim his first F3 win on his debut weekend, a fantastic effort for the 20-year-old Melbourne driver.
"To have a win on our debut round is really pretty special," enthused a delighted Trimble. "We had a few things go my way today, but in the end it's just so great to get this kind of a result at my first race in this category."
Chris Alajajian held the early lead for most of the race and looked set to come away from the weekend with two wins but a Safety Car period of seven laps played into the hands of those behind him. The Safety Car was brought out after a series of incidents, which started when Marc Williams and Sam Abay both spun off at the 'Horseshoe'. The ensuing yellow flags then provided more action when Michael Caruso ran into the back of a slowing Michael Trimble. Caruso damaged a front-right in the collision, the resulting wreckage bringing out the Safety Car.
Alajajian held the lead at the restart but relinquished it to Gilmour who led briefly before being passed by Trimble. Caratti meanwhile, who had worked his way back through the field disposed of Gilmour and Alajajian and started hunting down Trimble. Alajajian worked his way back to third and moved on to the tail of Caratti, the pair dicing for several laps in a display of close and measured racing. At the flag, Trimble held off the Astuti Competition pair to win by 2/10ths from Caratti, with Alajajian a further 3/10ths behind. Gilmour finished fourth ahead of another solid drive from Team BRM's Tim Slade with Nic Jordan sixth. Ricky Occhipinti, after a disappointing first race, returned to the points table with a strong seventh ahead of Benchmark Motorsport's Mat Sofi. Tim Berryman once again finished ninth overall (and first in the Kumho Tyres Trophy Class) while Kevin Miller rounded out the Top Ten in the ex Aaron Caratti Dallara F301 Renault.
Aaron Caratti's barnstorming drive saw him set the fastest lap of the race, a 0:55.3802, the extra point helping him to joint leadership of the 2005 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship. Alajajian and Caratti are tied on 33 points each, just ahead of Team BRM's Michael Trimble on 32.
Several new cars and drivers made their first F3 appearance at Wakefield Park. Astuti Competition rolled out their two new Dallara F304 Renaults (ex Hitech Racing from British F3), while Adelaide-based Team BRM expanded to a four car team with the addition of the ex Menu F3 Motorsport Dallara F304 Spiess Opel, driven by Australian Will Davison on last year's British F3 Championship.
On the driver front, Round 1 saw the debut of several exciting prospects, including 20-year-old Michael Trimble who capped off his weekend with a race win in Race 2. Another debutant who gave a strong showing was Benchmark Motorsport's Mat Sofi, the Sydney-based 20 year old stepping into the 2003 Championship-winning Dallara F301 Fiat of Michael Caruso. Melbourne's Sam Abay showed that he will be one to watch with an impressive first-up performance in the Astuti Competition Dallara F301 Spiess Opel while Tim Berryman stamped his authority on the Kumho Tyres Trophy Series in the Ramon Racing Dallara F396 driven by Michael Navybox last year. Adding some international flavour to the mix was Canadian debutant Cody Liebel who managed to pick up two Championship points for his efforts over the weekend in the Piccola Scuderia Corse Dallara F301 Alfa Romeo. Liebel also added a touch of glamour to the grid, his car sporting signage advertising the Club Hilton chain of nightclubs owned by Paris Hilton.
In the Kumho Tyres Trophy (for older generation cars), Ramon Racing's Tim Berryman came away from the weekend with a perfect tally of 44 points with two race wins, two fastest race laps (in class) and two fastest qualifying laps (in class), an impressive F3 debut for the 27 year old. He was followed home by the ever-reliable Bill Maddocks and by F3 debutant Marc Williams. Williams has stepped into the Team BRM F398 Dallara Spiess Opel driven so successfully by Nic Jordan last year. But the similarities don't end there. Williams, like Jordan, is a 16-year old Kiwi and will be hoping to emulate Jordan's feat of last year by winning the Kumho Tyres Trophy.
F3 Fast Facts:
* Three new Dallara F304 cars on the grid (Astuti Competition's 2 ex Hitech Racing Renaults and Team BRM's ex Menu F3 Motorsport Spiess Opel)
* Maiden F3 wins for Chris Alajajian (Astuti Competition) and Michael Trimble (Team BRM)
* First career pole positions for Aaron Caratti (Astuti Competition)
* First all Astuti Competition front row (Caratti & Alajajian for both races)
* New Race Lap Record for Chris Alajajian (0:54.9057 -- previous record 0:55.0245 Ian Dyk 2004)
* Six drivers making F3 debut (Michael Trimble, Mat Sofi, Tim Berryman, Cody Liebel, Marc Williams & Sam Abay)
* Average age of Top 10 in Race 1 (20 years 4 months); in Race 2 (23 years, 6 months)
* First championship points for Michael Trimble (32), Mat Sofi (6), Kevin Miller (2), Sam Abay (2) and Cody Liebel (2)
* Three nationalities present on grid (Australia x 13; New Zealand x 2; Canada x 1)
2005 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship
Competing for the Australian Drivers Championship -- Top 6
Chris Alajajian 33
Aaron Caratti 33
Michael Trimble 32
Tim Slade 18
Chris Gilmour 16
Nic Jordan (NZ) 10
2005 Kumho Tyres Trophy Class -- Top 3
Tim Berryman 44
Bill Maddocks 27
Marc Williams (NZ) 27