After 3 long months of relative slumber, the Australian Formula 3 series is about to ignite at Sydney's Oran Park raceway on March 18. Relative slumber I hear you say? Well there has been some behind the scene action over the Christmas break.
After 3 long months of relative slumber, the Australian Formula 3 series is about to ignite at Sydney's Oran Park raceway on March 18. Relative slumber I hear you say?
Well there has been some behind the scene action over the Christmas break. New driver's, new teams forming, new board for the Association, the calendar changing and new control rubber for the cars.
The most notable news has been the interest from over seas. Drivers from Italy, Japan, India and New Zealand have all made inquiries about the series. Also Aussie drivers are lining up for competitive seats. Not just the usual home based drivers, but overseas based guys chomping at the bit to return to this emerging series.
Starting with last years champions Titan Racing. Paul Stephenson has turned his back an offer to run for Alan Docking Racing in the UK and has merged with Formula Holden runner Damien Digby to form a new team. Stephenson will step up to Formula Holden while Digby will run in Formula 3. Australasian Dallara importers Scuderia Piccola have signed former Jim Russell World Scholarship winner Peter Hackett hot from his second place in last years title. Adelaide's Bronte Rundle Motorsport will again field former US Mazda Star runner Darren Palmer from Queensland and have signed Kiwi Daymon Templeman. Templeman has experience in Formula Ford, Formula Asia and Formula Holden. This should give the team a good technical base for the upcoming season.
The busiest team I feel, has been Shane Flynn's RCH team. Third place getter last season Chas Jacobson will again lead the team, but the second seat is not so clear cut. Drivers linked to the seat are former Formula Vee champ James Manderson, teenager Tim Macrow and Paul Dumbrell. Manderson looks likely for the drive, but former Kart champ, and brother to Adam Macrow; Tim Macrow set ok times at Calder Park last week. The biggest shock was seeing Dumbrell step into the car. On old Dunlop tyres he got down to a 57 dead compared to Macrow's low 61. Maybe a third car will ease Flynn's problem of too many good drivers are lining up for his two cars.
Other news in the formation for Mike Beeley's M-Speed team. Mike is stepping up to a new Dallara Toms Toyota while he has signed Brisbane's Craig Smith for his level 2 championship winning car. Also stepping up from level 2 is David Choon. Choon will be driving the Dallara in level 1 while his level 2 car has been linked to Brendon Cook. Cook ahs been inactive for 5 years after winning 2 club titles, 1 state title and having a disappointing season in British Formula Fords in 1996. Other level 2 runners will be former champion Rod Anderson, Level 3 champ Bill Maddocks and multiple class champ Brian Sampson.
Others looking for drives are 1998 Formula Asia Champion Ben Walsh. Walsh has been without a regular drive for some time and is keen to find some seat time this year. Christian Jones, son of 1980 F1 champ Alan Jones, has been pursuing a few teams to find the right deal for this year. Both drivers have extensive experience and would be an asset for any team.
Calendar changes include the much-publicised loss of the Adelaide round of the American Le Mans round. But we hear Don Panoz is very keen to replace the round this year. Also a chance to run at the Clipsal 500, on Adelaide's shorter Grand Prix circuit, has been mooted.
So who will go where? What will the final calendar be? Who knows? One thing I do know is that the first round at Oran Park can't come quick enough.