F3 DRIVERS STAR IN BATHURST 12 HOUR & ENDURANCE RACING DEBUT OPEN-WHEEL 'Specialists' from the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship have impressed in their endurance racing debut in the WPS Bathurst 12 hour Enduro held at Mount...
F3 DRIVERS STAR IN BATHURST 12 HOUR & ENDURANCE RACING DEBUT
OPEN-WHEEL 'Specialists' from the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship have impressed in their endurance racing debut in the WPS Bathurst 12 hour Enduro held at Mount Panorama, showing their versatility, pace and reliability throughout the demanding race.
It was only late race mechanical problems outside of the drivers' control that stopped the Wilson Brothers Racing Subaru Impreza WRX STi driven by James Winslow, Daniel Schulz and Kiwi Andy Knight from finishing inside the top five after a stunning debut performance from the Open-Wheel stars.
The strong performance in the production car Enduro will surely give both Winslow and Schulz additional confidence prior to the upcoming second round of the Australian Drivers' championship to be held at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide next week.
The teams' WRX STi ran as high as third place early in the demanding 12-hour endurance event and was sitting comfortably in 5th with less than an hour to go before rear-wheel bearing problems forced the car to pit lane for repairs, with less than 50 minutes remaining.
The car resumed with no functioning ABS system, however was able to finish the race in 8th outright and fourth in class.
The Winslow, Schulz and Knight combination completed 239 laps (1480km) of the Mount Panorama -- the first visit for each of the three drivers to Australia's most famous circuit.
Winslow, currently second in the race for the Australian Drivers championship, started the race and ran as high as third by the 40th lap.
Strong middle-race stints by both Opes Prime National Class driver Schulz and former Aussie F3 driver Knight anchored the car firmly inside the top five whilst Winslow brought the car to the flag despite the late-race mechanical dramas.
"The end result was disappointing given we were as high as third early on, but it was still a fantastic experience," James Winslow enthused.
"Even with the problems towards the end it would have been nice to finish inside the top three in our class, but that's the way endurance racing goes. It was a great experience and it was brilliant to get some laps around Mount Panorama -- it really is everything everyone says it is -- it's an awesome track.
"I think we did a good job in the car and without the problems at the end we would have been a lot higher up," he said.
Team Leader Schulz completed a lengthy middle stint and echoed his team-mate's sentiments.
"The chance to get some experience at this place (Mt. Panorama) was fantastic," he said.
"To be able to do lap after lap was really enjoyable. We were looking good in fifth after Andy and I did the middle stints and when James jumped into the car for the run to the flag, but in the end we had the dramas that set us back.
"I think the experience as a whole was fantastic and that the three of us did a good job."
Schulz and Winslow will now rejoin their regular teams for the Clipsal 500 Adelaide -- an event that will feature 'Wings and Slicks' Open Wheelers for the first time since 2004.
Winslow will be an outright contender behind the wheel of his Adelaide-based Opes Prime Team BRM Dallara F307, whilst Schulz looks likely to race at the front in the Opes Prime National class aboard his CMA Recycling Astuti Motorsport Dallara F304.
Opes Prime Team BRM Driver Nathan Caratti leads the championship after one round, ahead of team-mate Winslow, TanderSport driver Leanne Tander and the third Team BRM star, 17 year old Kiwi Earl Bamber.
Round two of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 championship for the CAMS Gold Star will be held at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide between February 21 -- 24.