Just five seconds of the first Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 race at the ING Australian Grand Prix were all it took to put Fleetcare TanderSport driver Leanne Tander on the back foot for an entire weekend at Albert Park. A slow getaway from...
Just five seconds of the first Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 race at the ING Australian Grand Prix were all it took to put Fleetcare TanderSport driver Leanne Tander on the back foot for an entire weekend at Albert Park.
A slow getaway from the line left Tander slipping down through the field in the first of four non-championship races at the 5.3km street circuit just outside of Melbourne's CBD -- and from thereon in it was a hard slog for Leanne and her Fleetcare Dallara F304.
Leanne qualified 6th in the record 30-car field and was confident that she had the pace to challenge for podium finishes and race victories in front of the big Melbourne crowd.
Unfortunately a slow start in the first 8-lap race Thursday evening left Leanne down in 12th place at the end of the first lap and forced to charge back through the field.
"I'm pretty frustrated looking back at the weekend," mused Leanne.
"It all began with my bad start in the first race. That was enough to drop me back from the leading group. I was confident that I would have been able to run with them but unfortunately it dropped me back into where everyone is crashing into each other." She said.
Tander clawed her way back through the field to finish the first race in 5th position, and was running 4th in the second race, well within touch of the leaders, on Friday before being turned around on the final lap -- eventually scoring 9th.
Sixth place in the next event -- an eight-lap affair Saturday evening -- meant that the TanderSport star would start the finale' Sunday morning from the third row of the grid and confident that she would be able to challenge the leaders.
An aggressive first lap saw Leanne shuffled through the field to run eighth after two laps, but in the midst of a multi-car fight for the race lead.
Unfortunately on the third lap Leanne spun exiting turn 13, making contact with one of the many concrete barriers that line the street circuit.
"I copped a couple of hits and eventually put myself into the wall at the end. It's definitely not how I wanted the weekend to go," Leanne explained.
"I just came out of the turn and put my foot down -- and I don't know if I was a little wide or on the grass a bit -- the car just spun and that was it."
Tander said that despite believing she could continue the race in a damaged car, the risk of destroying a chassis in a non-championship event was far too great a risk.
"Even though it wasn't a big hit I knew that the car was damaged and because I was having 'one of those days', I knew that if I had continued something would've broken and it would have done a lot more damage, so I retired there and then.
"It's a shame because the car was good." She said.
Despite the tough weekend the TanderSport team believes that -- for the second time in two meetings -- the strong race and qualifying pace is a sign of good things to come.
Leanne was one of the fastest drivers throughout the opening championship round at Eastern Creek raceway six weeks ago and takes confidence from the fact that the next two circuits on the calendar are amongst her strongest.
"We are definitely fast enough to race at the front," she said.
"That probably makes it a little more disappointing given that we didn't even get in the podium. But it also gives us some motivation because the next two rounds are at my favourite circuits, so I'm confident that we can go well there.
"It's a long championship. We have only had one points round that didn't go to plan and in the end -- as nice as it would have been to go well -- the Grand Prix doesn't affect our championship campaign."
The Fleetcare TanderSport team will next be in action at Narellan's Oran Park Raceway, 45 minutes South West of Sydney, on April 21 -- 22.