After 24 laps of sustained pressure from outgoing champion Chris Gilmour, James Winslow crossed the line under a bright blue sky at Queensland Raceway and punched the air in delight.
The British driver and 2008 F3 champion had just won round six of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship and sealed his second championship in an emphatic start-to finish performance and clean-sweep of the Coates Hire 300.
Winslow won pole, took all three wins and even set the new Queensland Raceway F3 lap record in race two, in one of the most emphatic performances of his already hugely successful career.
The R-Tek Motorsport driver becomes just the 12th driver in the 57-year history of the CAMS Gold Star to win the award twice, and just the second driver ever to win two Australian Formula 3 championships.
Winslow joins Australian racing elite like Spencer Martin, Kevin Bartlett, Max Stewart, John Bowe, Rohan Onslow and Simon Wills as a two-time Gold Star winner.
With his 12th win of the year Winslow now also has the record for most wins in an F3 season and his success also gives R-Tek their first ever championship, after coming so close last year.
Chris Gilmour finished second and Steel Guiliana third – but it was Winslow who was most celebrating the most.
“It’s a relief to have it won and the pressure off,” he said.
“This is for the team. Ian and Meryl (Richards) and the entire group have worked so hard to make it all work this year and it’s so satisfying to finally have it locked away.
“It has been the perfect weekend, to win all three races and even set a lap record – you really can’t ask for much more. It wasn’t without its troubles, but the car performed so well and even though we were under some pressure in each race we had enough to bring it home.
“To be grouped amongst the great names who have won the Gold Star twice is a great honour and something I am incredibly proud to have on my resume. It means a lot to win this championship because I love these cars and Formula 3 and to be able to do it here, in perfect conditions and in front of a great crowd, is hugely satisfying.”
Steel Guiliana and Jordan Skinner will fight out for third in the championship at the series’ finale at Phillip Island, Guiliana’s third place today edging him just nine points ahead of the Team BRM driver going into the final round.
18-year-old Queenslander Hayden Cooper gave local fans something to cheer about after holding out speedy Victorian Lockie Marshall for the duration of today’s feature, to not only win the Forpark Australia National Class this weekend – but also seal the class title overall as well.
He finished fourth in today’s feature and was aided in his championship chase when team-mate Ben Gersekowski was unable to start the finale’ today when his car failed to start.
Cooper’s incredible rookie F3 season sees him wrap up the National class with a round to go, though the $50,000 Forpark Australia F3 Scholarship – that goes towards funding a championship-class F3 drive next season – will not be decided until after the final round.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Cooper said.
“It has been a great weekend and the racing has been really tough. Lockie put me under pressure all race but we had enough to hold him off and it’s great to wrap up the National class with a round to go.”
The final round of the 2012 Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship for the CAMS Gold Star will be held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit with the Shannons Nationals presented by Hi-Tec Oils – on September 21-23.
Championship Points - After 6 of 7 Rounds:
1. James Winslow 242
2. Chris Gilmour 181
3. Steel Guiliana 120
4. Jordan Skinner 111
5. John Magro 88
Forpark Australia National Class
1. Hayden Cooper 223
2. Ben Gersekowski 164
3. Lockie Marshall 106
4. Adrian Cottrell 88
5. Nathan Gotch 52
Source: Race Torque Media