NINE POINTS BETWEEN THREE AS BARKER SWEEPS MALLALA THREE DRIVERS are now within eight points at the lead of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship after Ben Barker swept to a convincing victory at Mallala Raceway near Adelaide...
NINE POINTS BETWEEN THREE AS BARKER SWEEPS MALLALA
THREE DRIVERS are now within eight points at the lead of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship after Ben Barker swept to a convincing victory at Mallala Raceway near Adelaide today.
It is the closest the championship has been since round one and sets up a fascinating title battle in the second half of the year between three drivers at the top of their game.
Barker won the second sprint race this morning at near lap record pace - he missed the four year old mark by just three-thousandths of a second - before controlling a battle with Mitch Evans in the feature race to score this third win from three starts this weekend.
The lanky Brit rocketed himself back into contention for the Gold Star as a result of his crushing performance in South Australia, whilst the margin at the top between leader Tom Tweedie and Mitch Evans is now a scant three points heading into the mid-season break.
"That was the perfect weekend," Barker said.
"It's all gone perfectly. Phillip Island was a real downer for me so to come back like this is fantastic after getting the penalty there.
"I have to thank the team for setting up a fantastic car and thanks to my sponsor Cars Motorsport for their support. The team has done an awesome job and car was perfect.
"I feel really comfortable in the car and comfortable with the way I am driving so I'm really looking forward to the second half of the year."
Evans finished second today and, importantly for his championship challenge, finished ahead of season long rival Tom Tweedie who struggled throughout after missing valuable practice time on Friday.
Mitch Evans' toughest round of the season to date still netted him a third and two second place results, so the 15-year-old New Zealander wasn't totally displeased with the result.
"It's been an up and down weekend," he said.
"Qualifying went really well but the driving error in race one was frustrating so to bounce back with a solid second in the final race was good. It's been a good weekend for the points and the margin has really closed up so we can go into the next round looking to close it further."
Tweedie said he was pleased to hold onto the lead of the championship, if only by a reduced margin.
"It's game on," he said of the three-way battle for the Gold Star that has now emerged.
"To come out of this round with the lead in the championship is a good result given we struggled in the dry because we had no track time earlier in the weekend.
"The experience the local teams have here is critical and one of the reasons why we struggled, but we're looking ahead feeling positive.
"Tracks like Eastern Creek will be tough (for the F304 car) but Morgan Park and Sandown will be good for us so it's going to be a good fight."
Zhang Shan Qi had his career-best performance this weekend at Mallala and finished fourth in the feature, but not before waging a mighty battle with the two R-Tek Dallara's of Josh Burdon and Martin Short.
The trio swapped positions regularly throughout the early stages of the feature race, Zhang eventually getting his Team BRM with PTRS Racing Dallara clear of the two youngsters behind him.
Short finished fifth and Burdon sixth but both showed impressive pace - lapping less than a second off the championship cars pace at the front of the field for a majority of the main event.
All the action from the fourth round of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship can be caught on SBS Speedweek, Sunday June 13th at 2pm. Check your local guides for details.