HOME TOWN SUCCESS FOR OPES PRIME TEAM BRM AT CLIPSAL 500 ADELAIDE Opes Prime Team BRM has left round two of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star locking out four of the top five places in the championship --...
HOME TOWN SUCCESS FOR OPES PRIME TEAM BRM AT CLIPSAL 500 ADELAIDE
Opes Prime Team BRM has left round two of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star locking out four of the top five places in the championship -- as well as holding the lead in the Opes Prime National Class.
The Adelaide based operation succeeded at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide event despite a carnage-filled second race that ended with two team cars crunched against the hard, unforgiving Adelaide Concrete Walls.
Running five cars for the first time, the team continued to show the stunning pace that saw them dominate the opening round of the championship at Eastern Creek earlier in the month.
Opes Prime Team BRM drivers won the National Class in race one, and race two outright, qualified on the front row for both races and left the 3.2km circuit owning the new outright lap record to boot.
British driver James Winslow (#5 Opes Prime Team BRM Dallara F307 Mercedes) leads' the teams' championship charge, sitting second in the race for the Gold Star with 37 points.
Winslow qualified seventh for race one but rebounded strongly to sit on the front row -- in second -- for race two.
He raced to fourth in the first race and then a strong third place finish in the second to continue his strong class-leading form.
Team BRMs 2006 champion, Ben Clucas, returned to the team in stunning fashion by winning the second 12-lap race of the weekend after an aggressive drive that featured hallmarks of his championship winning form of two years ago.
In race one he pressured eventual winner Neil McFadyen for the duration, attacking the leader on the last lap only to fall short by less than half a second. In race two, he drove aggressively from third on the opening lap to take the lead at half-race and record a stunning comeback victory.
Clucas has now won 12 of the 14 Australian F3 races he has contested, all of them for Opes Prime Team BRM. He now sits third in the championship having scored all of his 36 championship markers in Adelaide at the weekend.
Round one winner Nathan Caratti had a tougher time of things, showing good early pace in practice before dropping down the order slightly in qualifying -- logging 7th and 5th fastest times in the two sessions, respectively.
Caratti improved two places to fifth in the shortened race one, showing good race pace, but it was a hefty crash in which he was an innocent party that ended his weekend early in race two.
Caratti's #5 Dallara F307 ended crunched hard against the wall just before Turn ten after unfortunately colliding with team-mate Earl Bamber and Leanne Tander. Nathan now sits fourth in the championship with 29 points.
Arguably one of the fastest drivers in Adelaide all weekend was Opes Prime Team BRM's 17-year-old Kiwi Earl Bamber.
After just missing out on pole in both sessions, Bamber was in stunning form in race one -- finishing third -- as he smashed the four year old Adelaide street circuit outright lap record.
Bamber lowered the mark to 1m18.6s -- a full second faster than the old mark -- in Saturday's first race en route to a strong third place finish -- the first podium finish of his brief Formula 3 career.
Race two wasn't quite so speedy, Bamber running strongly in the leading duo before his car was involved in the three-car shunt that ended his run towards the end of the race.
Bamber now sits 5th in the championship with 23 points after two rounds.
In the Opes Prime National Class Lee Farrell had a quick -- if at times torrid -- love affair with the Adelaide street circuit, enthusing about the track from the first time he lapped it.
He scored two class pole positions in qualifying on Friday, and backed it up with a lights-to-flag class win in race one.
An unfortunate 'off' in the second race left him to salvage a fifth place finish; however he holds the points lead 50 -- 48 over rival Chris Gilmour.
"What a weekend -- one where Opes Prime Team BRM has shown it's pace and the ability of both our team and our drivers," Team Manager Mark Rundle said.
"We proved that we could put five competitive cars on the racetrack this weekend as they each ran at the front at various times this weekend. We're really pleased with the performances by all our drivers, performances that have seen them consolidate their positions well inside the top five of the championship.
"Lee continues to do a great job in the F304 car in the National Class and drove very well all weekend. The team is looking forward to Oran Park to see if we can get one of our drivers on top of the standings." He said.
"It has been a fantastic event. The Atmosphere has been brilliant and some sections of the track are a lot like Macau, where I raced in 2006," James Winslow said.
"I'm a bit disappointed with the end result, race two wasn't the best race for me, but in the end Ben pulled a really good, legitimate move so I let him have the corner (to take the lead in race two). Neil then just touched the back of my car which pushed me wide under braking and that let him go by as well."
"I'm really over the moon!" Ben Clucas said after race two.
"I really have to thank Opes Prime and Team BRM for making this happen because without their help I wouldn't be here. I was a bit disappointed with second in race one because we had good car pace -- we just didn't qualify well. But in race two I was able to get past Neil and James and it's a very satisfying way to win the race.
"I didn't get the best of starts but I was able to get past Nathan and then went out after Neil and Ben -- I broke the lap record so we know the car is competitive," he said following race one.
"In the end I'm happy with a podium finish -- I probably could have got past Ben (in race one) but it would've been difficult without having a massive accident so I played it safe and finished the race third."
"It's been a weekend to forget," Caratti said.
"We started strongly in practice but went a bit backwards from there in Qualifying when the track started gripping up -- traffic was also a problem.
"Race one wasn't too bad -- though I was a bit disappointed to drop back to fifth because I could have held third. I was waiting to see what was going to happen and in the end I was an innocent part in the accident. Earl's car just came across the circuit and hit mine, and then Leanne hit as well."
"It was a great weekend overall -- I'm just disappointed with the result in race two because we had so much speed.
"I hit a bump on the run to turn four when I was down changing, it flung the car into a spin and I slid up the escape road.
"It was great to win race one -- it was a fantastic race and I've really enjoyed driving here -- it's a great track."