PODIUM AND NEW OUTRIGHT CIRCUIT LAP RECORD FOR BAMBER AT ADELAIDE Impressive young New Zealand racing driver Earl Bamber is certainly making an impression in the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship this year. And no more so than at the...
PODIUM AND NEW OUTRIGHT CIRCUIT LAP RECORD FOR BAMBER AT ADELAIDE
Impressive young New Zealand racing driver Earl Bamber is certainly making an impression in the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship this year. And no more so than at the second round of the 2008 series at the Clipsal 500 meeting in Adelaide over the weekend.
In only his second meeting in the category, and his second race in his new Opes Prime Dallara Mercedes-Benz F307 Formula 3 car, the 17-year-old from Wanganui not only managed to qualify on the front row and finish the first race of the weekend in third place
He also lowered former Australian A1GP driver Ian Dyk's four-year-old outright circuit lap record!
In fact the only real low-point of the weekend was his mid-race dnf - after a multi-car collision not of his making - in the second race on Sunday.
As he was at the first round of the 2008 Championship at Sydney's Eastern Creek circuit earlier this month, kart-turned-rising-car-star Bamber was one of the front-runners, setting the second quickest lap time in the first qualifying session, the third best in the second, then finishing third behind fastest qualifier Neil McFadyen and fellow former Australian Gold Star champion Ben Clucas in the first race.
It was as he hunted Clucas and McFadyen down in that he rewrote the class and outright circuit lap record (lowering it from 1.19.4959 to 1.18.6011), first dipping under it on lap four, then setting the new benchmark on lap five.
To put that time in context, it is over four seconds faster than the quickest lap time - a 1.22.6643 set by Stone Brothers Racing's James Courtney - in the V8 Supercar race later that day.
Unfortunately the Saftey Car was deployed on the sixth lap to allow track workers to attend to a prone car, then two laps later officials decided to reduce the race to just nine laps, meaning Bamber ran out of laps to catch the drivers in front, leaving McFadyen to take victory from Clucas with Bamber third, James Winslow fourth and Nathan Carratti fifth.
As if to rub salt into the wound, any chance the young Kiwi had of going one or two places better in the second race of the weekend on Sunday morning were then dashed when he was involved in a five car incident on the fifth (of 12) laps.
Despite some justifiable frustration with the way that race ended however, Bamber was focusing on the positives when he talked to journalists afterwards.
"Again, we've showed good pace - lap record pace in this case - and it's still only my second time in the car. There's still a lot more to come, both from the car and from me and really, what happened today was just a racing incident. The driving is a lot more aggressive than it is at home, particularly so this weekend. But that's just the way it is."
"Really, I'm just happy to be here and have a competitive car to drive and for that I'd like to thank Anthony at Opes Prime and the guys at BRM. Each time I get into the car I learn something new and as I learn more about the car and get more and more confident with it I'm going to get quicker and quicker."
And the incident in the second race?
"Again I didn't get a very good start and I was back in fourth place. James Winslow was in the lead and he, Ben Clucas and Neil McFadyen were hugging the inside line going down into the hairpin. I decided to go round the outside and I actually got alongside Winslow but Clucas tried to force his way down the inside and hit Winslow who also, I think got hit by McFadyen, and that sent him (Winslow) sideways into me. I tried to avoid him but then Stuart Kostera got into me from behind and sent me up onto the curb. I was still mobile but as I was coming back onto the track Nathan Carratti hit my front wheel. That spat him back the other way and as I was sitting there Leanne Tander came around and got me pretty much side on."
Clucas, McFadyen, Winslow and Kostera were able to continue and finish the race in that order but Bamber, Carratti and Tander were out on the spot.
With pole in both qualifying sessions and a win and second place in the races McFadyen was the round winner with 37 points, from Clucas (35) and Winslow with 22, but Bamber was still credited with 6th place behind Kostera (13) and Mat Sofi.
After two rounds in the one month there is now a six week break in the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship schedule. Bamber, however, has little time to dwell on the weekend's results.
For the next two weekend's he will be back behind the wheel of his International Motorsport-run, TradeZone-backed A1 team.NZL Junior Developent Team Toyota, trying to wrest the lead in the New Zealand's Toyota Racing Series from long-time leader Andy Knight.