TALENT FILLED GRID SET FOR NIKON INDY 300 FORMULA 3 CHALLENGE THE AUSTRALIAN Drivers Championship has been run and won and there are no points on the line - so you would think that this weekends Nikon Indy 300 F3 Challenge will be something of a...
TALENT FILLED GRID SET FOR NIKON INDY 300 FORMULA 3 CHALLENGE
THE AUSTRALIAN Drivers Championship has been run and won and there are no points on the line - so you would think that this weekends Nikon Indy 300 F3 Challenge will be something of a lame duck affair, right? Think again.
One of the more competitive fields of the year will bask in the sun during the non championship hit-out to be conducted on the Gold Coast this weekend, with drivers from five countries represented.
British driver James Winslow, the 2008 Australian F3 champion, will lead the charge of the ‘local' drivers, his Team BRM team-mate Nathan Caratti, TanderSport's Leanne Tander and Astuti Motorsport driver Mat Sofi also set to continue the battle they have all been fighting since the first round in February this year.
The always-exciting Chris Alajajian and Mooloolaba (Sunshine Coast) local Steve Morcombe will also join the party, whilst A1GP racer John Martin will make his first Australian F3 start driving for Piccola Scuderia in an effort to get street-circuit miles.
Indonesian driver Zahir Ali has joined Team BRM in a three-car attack on Indy and could be a surprise packet.
The 21-year old has been a star performer in the All-Japan F3 championship this season driving for Asian outfit team PTRS in the series' National Class.
Ali finished on the podium on seven occasions this season and notched a win in round nine of the championship. His past successes include winning the 2007 Formula BMW Asia championship and a top three finish in Asian Formula Renault in 2006.
In the National Class for 2004-specification cars, a young Columbian star will look to challenge 2008 class champ Chris Gilmour on home soil. A development driver for Raikkonen-Robertson Racing in British Formula BMW, 18-year-old Carlos Huertas will drive a Dallara F304 Spiess for R-Tek Motorsport at Indy in his Formula 3 debut.
Huertas will have his work cut out for him, however, as Brisbane resident Gilmour is one of only two drivers in this years grid to have raced on the Gold Coast circuit in a Formula 3 car before, along with Alajajian.
Other notables include New Zealander Ben Crighton and South Australia's Jesse Wakeman. Queenslanders John Mills and Jonathan Grant will make their first Formula 3 starts driving 2001-specification Dallaras.
Utilising Dallara chassis - the same constructor as the IndyCar series - and 220-hp two-litre, four cylinder engines, Formula 3 cars are now Australia's fastest racing cars and continue to be a strong breeding ground for young talent of the future.
Team Australia driver Will Power finished second in the 2002 Australian F3 Championship in a season that included a pair of race wins in the season finale held at that years Nikon Indy 300.
The F3 lap record - set by John Pettit in 2004 at 1m49.5084s - is expected to be significantly undercut by this years new-generation cars that have already broken three other lap records this year.
The Nikon Indy 300 F3 Challenge will be conducted over three races this weekend, with Thursday featuring one practice, one qualifying and the opening 10-lap race in the afternoon. Friday and Saturday each feature an eight-lap race. The overall winner will be the one who accumulates the most points over the three races, with bonus points on offer for pole position and the fastest lap in each race.