ONE POINT SPLITS WINSLOW AND TANDER AFTER ANOTHER DAY OF DRAMA AT PHILLIP ISLAND ONE POINT is all that separates new series leader James Winslow and closest rival Leanne Tander following the penultimate round of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian...
ONE POINT SPLITS WINSLOW AND TANDER AFTER ANOTHER DAY OF DRAMA AT PHILLIP ISLAND
ONE POINT is all that separates new series leader James Winslow and closest rival Leanne Tander following the penultimate round of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship following a typically dramatic weekend at Phillip Island.
James Winslow was the winner of a safety-car dominated 150th F3 championship race this morning after a last-lap pass on Tander, whilst Leanne fought back in race two to record a retaliatory win and set up the tight fight for the Gold Star with just one round remaining.
Former championship leader Nathan Caratti had a horrible day, scoring just one point and slipping some 29 points behind the leader though he remains in contention for the championship ahead of the season finale'.
As a result Winslow (175) now leads Tander (174) and Caratti (146) as the three contenders set to fight for the right to call themselves Australia's Champion Driver and win the Gold Star.
Lee Farrell won both F3 National Class heats to keep his battle with Chris Gilmour alive into the final round of the series, to be held at Symmons Plains between September 19 - 21 this year.
A shortened first race began behind the safety car due to the wet conditions before going green with two laps had been completed - only to be reduced to a crawl once again after an incident just a moment following the green flag.
Nathan Caratti and Stuart Kostera both ran off the circuit after Siberia, Kostera burying his car in the sandtrap with Caratti having the more severe accident and making heavy contact with the tyre barrier with the rear of his Team BRM Dallara.
Tander had led the majority of the race and continued to do so when the race was restarted with two laps remaining, but made an error at turn two to hand the race to Winslow who had just slipped past, the Brit going on to win the race with storming drive.
Tander recovered to eighth place after the spin (5th in championship class) whilst the big beneficiaries were Justin Tate (Piccola Scuderia Corse) and Mat Sofi (Astuti Motorsport), who both assumed outright podium finishes for their toil in challenging conditions.
17-year-old Tate challenged Winslow on the final lap but settled for second with Sofi coming home to record another podium finish with third.
"I'm really pleased to get my first podium," Tate said. "I could have had a run at Winslow on the final lap but had a bit of oversteer and lost some ground but it's still a satisfying result."
Queenslander John Magro finished fourth to record his career best F3 finish whilst National Class rivals Lee Farrell and Chris Gilmour were next.
Race two was more straightforward though still featured plenty of drama and another appearance from the safety car.
On a drying track Winslow took an early lead ahead of his team-mate Caratti whilst Tate rocketed from sixth on the grid to third in the opening few corners. Tander slipped to fourth but quickly attacked and worked her way past Kostera to sit third by lap four.
In almost a mirror-image of race one, leader Winslow ran off the track at Honda on the eighth lap after pulling away from the pack, Tander taking advantage and assuming a lead she would never loose.
Whilst Winslow charged from fifth to an eventual second, a massive four-car dice between an ailing Tate (Who had fuel pressure problems), Sofi, Kostera and Magro was settled at the line in Sofi's favour - the four cars covered by .18s as they crossed the line.
Caratti, in his rebuilt car, ran off the track from second place on lap four and recovered to finish 15th, scoring just one point for his efforts.
Farrell again won the National Class ahead of Gilmour and Ash Bettridge to further close the championship margin.
The day's big winner, however, was Winslow who gained the most ground of anyone and went from third to first in the battle of the Australian Drivers Championship thanks mostly to his storming race one win - his fourth of the season.
"It was just an unbelievable day, very unpredictable but I'm really happy with the end result," Winslow said.
"To be leading the championship after everything we have been though is fantastic. I'm disappointed with the mistake in race two because we were looking good in that but I was able to come home strongly and get the most points of the weekend. It was a tough weekend but I'm really happy and hope to give it a good shake at winning the series in Tasmania"
Tander also rued a mistake but was pleased with her year-long comeback drive that has placed her back in contention.
"I've just gone to every round with the aim of winning races and knowing that if I did that, the championship would look after itself," She said.
"It's been a good weekend though I'm pretty disappointed about the off in race one because it probably cost me the win but we made up for it in race two. I'm not changing my philosophy for Symmons Plains - I'm going there to win races but I'm really pleased to have made up something like 27 points this year and get to where we are now."
F3 National Class winner Lee Farrell said he was pleased to take advantage of a strong weekend to keep the National Class battle alive into Symmons Plains.
"Really it was all we could do, so I'm really pleased," he said. "We knew what we had to do this weekend and also know that we would be pretty good in the wet weather. It was a really good weekend and we have done all we can to make sure that I stay in the battle into the final round."
In the F3 Trophy Class Andrew Mill posted a stunning performance all weekend long, running with the newer cars in the F3 National Class consistently and also dominating in the F3 Trophy.
The Property Solutions Group driver clinched the Trophy championship at the last round of the series at Eastern Creek.
The final round of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star will be held at Symmons Plains Raceway as part of the Shannons Nationals return to Tasmania for 2008.
The event will feature the ‘marquee' F3 SuperPrix event as the season-ending event to cap off the ultra-competitive season.