YOUNG RACING ELITE GET FORMULA 3 TESTING OPPORTUNITY AT WINTON Some of the best young driving talent from Australia and New Zealand have been given an opportunity of a lifetime to get their first taste of a top-level 'Wings and slicks' car from...
YOUNG RACING ELITE GET FORMULA 3 TESTING OPPORTUNITY AT WINTON
Some of the best young driving talent from Australia and New Zealand have been given an opportunity of a lifetime to get their first taste of a top-level 'Wings and slicks' car from the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship.
A group of 13 outstanding young drivers from all walks of life were invited by Australia's premier Open-Wheel category to a drive day at Winton Raceway last Monday (October 19th) as part of the series continuing efforts to develop and build the category into 2010 and beyond.
With the day run as a proper test, each driver had access to data logging and analysis to help assess their performances and help the learning process as well as expert advice from the likes of Leanne Tander, Tim Macrow and team engineers.
Professional teams Astuti Motorsport, TanderSport, Team BRM, Scud Racing and R-Tek each provided at least one car as a sign of their commitment to the growth of Formula 3 in Australia from within.
Australian Motorsport foundation Managing Director Martin Stillman was also present to witness the fortunes of 2010 CAMS Rising Star driver, Jack LeBrocq, and the other young driving talent present.
The 16-year-old Victorian will contest the 2010 Formula Ford Championship as a Rising Star driver, but Stillman said that the AMSF recognised that the Formula 3 Australian Drivers' Championship could potentially play a role in the youngsters' career following his campaign next year.
"I think it's fantastic for someone like Jack to get a taste of what the category is all about and keep it in the back of his mind as a legitimate stepping stone for when he progresses onwards from Formula Ford," Stillman said.
"The entire F3 category is very important to Australian Motorsport. From an AMSF perspective it's imperative that Australia has a top Open Wheel category like Formula 3. It gives drivers coming though other categories like Formula Ford and formula Vee opportunities to progress their career domestically.
"It's terrific to see a lot of the best young Aussie talent attending the F3 test day," he said.
"The cars are just mind-blowing!" LeBrocq enthused.
"The cars are amazing to drive. They have so much grip and power. I can see this as a progression after Formula Ford next year. It's the only way to go if you want to go to formula 1. It makes sense. Australia is more affordable than overseas and the cars are the same."
Aussie talent was high on the agenda throughout the day; 2007 Formula Ford champion Tim Blanchard got his first opportunity to drive an F3 car in good conditions after a sodden test in the UK last year.
"The cars are great to drive. They do all the right things and have got heaps of grip and I thoroughly enjoyed it," Blanchard said.
"Formula Fords are very nervous and teach you the basics but these give you everything a racing driver wants. They're like a go kart but a bit bigger, so really great fun (to drive)."
Mitch Evans, who wrapped up second in the 2009 Formula Ford Championship on the Gold Coast at the weekend, and Ryan Simpson (Who finished 5th) also got their first laps in the 230hp, 550-kg Dallaras and came away from the experience raving about the capabilities of the vehicles.
"The grip levels are just so high and you can carry so much speed in to the corner," The 15-year-old Evans said.
"It's all down to corner speed and that kind of stuff. There's just so much more of everything. It was an unbelievable experience. It's (F3 in Australia) definitely an option for us next year."
International Aussies, Steel Guliana and Chris Wootton both adapted quickly to the demands of the Formula 3 car during their 30-lap stints, drawing on their experiences competing in the Formula BMW Asia Pacific series throughout 2009.
"The driving style is actually very similar as both are 'wings and slicks' cars," Guliana noted.
"The major difference is that there is a lot more power and a lot more grip. "It was my first time in a Formula 3 car, and there was a definite progression from the BMW. It's clearly a step up performance-wise.
"I was pretty happy with the way my day went and I think with more laps and more time in the seat I could be very competitive in a championship like this."
History was also made at Winton with 14-year-old Karting champion Sean Whitfield taking his first tentative laps to become the youngest ever driver to test a Formula car in Australia, if not in the world.
The youngster from Canberra didn't even realise he was making history as he took to the circuit.
"I didn't know before I came to Winton, so to find out I was the youngest ever person to drive an F3 car in Australia was pretty special!" he grinned.
"The grip the car produced was amazing, especially through corners like the sweeper. I've always looked at F3 as something 'way up there' and hard to get to, so to be here today is special. Everyone here was really helpful and really supportive so that made things easy."
Other drivers to take part in the day included Rhys Newman (Formula Vee), Josh Burdon (CAMS Young Gun Aussie Racing Cars driver), Karting gun Ben Gersekowski, Tom Goess and Leigh Burgess (State Formula Ford) and Jason Pringle (Karting).
Formula 3 Australian Drivers' Championship officials were pleased with the response from the day and as such it is not likely to be the last one held.
Officials also thanked their teams for participating in the day in a sign of dedication and commitment to the championship at a long-term level.
The F3ADC will now prepare for the climactic final round of the 2009 Gold Star, to be held at Sandown in almost exactly one month's time. Tim Macrow and Joey Foster are split by just a handful of points in yet another classic UK v Australia showdown for Australia's premier Open-Wheel award.
The Sandown F3 SuperPrix will be held on November 27 - 29.