FIRST LAPS LOGGED AHEAD OF FORMULA 3 FINALE AT SYMMONS PLAINS The first few laps of the final round of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship were turned at Symmons Plains Raceway today in fine but cool conditions. Eleven...
FIRST LAPS LOGGED AHEAD OF FORMULA 3 FINALE AT SYMMONS PLAINS
The first few laps of the final round of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship were turned at Symmons Plains Raceway today in fine but cool conditions.
Eleven drivers took advantage of the official pre-round F3 test day with teams running through a rigorous procedure of setting up the race cars to suit the conditions and the circuit this weekend, logging over 1300 laps in the process.
Times dropped dramatically during the day as Kumho rubber was laid down on a circuit that hadn't seen racing for six weeks, and though no official times were available the benchmark was thought to be in mid 50-second bracket - placing drivers right on the same times seen in during the dry portions of last years event, with the potential of much more to come.
For some today was an ideal chance to find their way around the short but challenging Symmons Plains layout, several drivers taking to the track for the first time.
Irish driver Lee Farrell completed a strong day in his Team BRM National Class Dallara, enjoying the circuit and noting that its layout suited his driving style.
"It's a good little track, I enjoy it and I think that it suits my style a lot," Farrell said.
"In some ways it's a bit like Clipsal (Adelaide street circuit). You can be aggressive and when you do it's quite rewarding. So far we have set some pretty good times on really old tyres so when we go to newer rubber things should be good.
"It's not my first time to Tasmania but it reminds me a lot of home (Ireland) - just with better roads!" he quipped.
2008 Trophy Class champion Andrew Mill completed his first laps with Melbourne-based Astuti Motorsport today, stepping up for the first time from his 2001-spec car to one of Astuti's 2004 cars this weekend having already clinched his trophy crown two rounds ago.
The Property Solutions Group-backed driver said that it was all about learning the new car and the track.
"I'm still finding my way around and working out the finer points of the track," he said. "And also getting my head around the sequential gearbox in the car. Going really well, though, so it's good fun."
All three outright championship contenders' logged laps; Team BRM drivers Nathan Caratti and TanderSport's Leanne Tander all running strongly. Kiwi drivers Mathew Radisich and Ben Crighton, young Adelaide driver Jesse Wakeman and Astuti challenger Mat Sofi were also present, whilst Scud Racing's Stuart Kostera also ran well on very old tyres, running in a new Mercedes Benz power plant freshly bolted behind his #35 Dallara.
After a lack of horsepower hindered the affable West Aussie's efforts at Phillip Island during the previous round, Kostera noted the changed performance of his car in testing today.
"I actually have to change gears again!" he joked. "It's nice to have power again after Phillip Island, which was really tough. It's early days yet and we are running on very, very old tyres but it's a positive start, I think."
Kostera's teammate for the weekend - 2007 Australian F3 champion Tim Macrow - will arrive tomorrow to prepare to jump behind the wheel of the F301 Dallara that he raced at Symmons Plains in 2006, finishing on the podium at the time.
Macrow's strong Symmons record extended to last season as well, finishing third in the inaugural Country Club Tasmania Formula 3 Super Prix race behind eventual winner Barton Mawer, and Leanne Tander.
Tasmanian driver Ray Chamberlain also took his first few laps of Symmons Plains in a Formula 3 car - after only racing the circuit in a Formula Vee in the past.
All eyes are skyward with teams hoping for dry weather this weekend after a spate of rain affected rounds of the championship this season.
Official pre-round practice will be contested on Friday with two qualifying sessions - one for each of Sunday's races - to be held on Saturday.
The championship will be decided this weekend with James Winslow leading Leanne Tander by one point, whilst in the F3 National Class Chris Gilmour will aim to wrap up the ‘race within a race' ahead of Lee Farrell.