CARATTI WATCHES SERIES LEAD VANISH AS TANDER AND WINSLOW GAIN THE MOST AT EASTERN CREEK. The 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship is tied at the top after James Winslow and Leanne Tander gained the most from an unpredictable sixth...
CARATTI WATCHES SERIES LEAD VANISH AS TANDER AND WINSLOW GAIN THE MOST AT EASTERN CREEK.
The 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship is tied at the top after James Winslow and Leanne Tander gained the most from an unpredictable sixth round of the championship contested today at Eastern Creek raceway in Sydney.
Tander and Nathan Caratti -- who had an 18-point lead ahead of this weekends' round - now share the series lead with 145 points apiece after Caratti endured two sluggish starts and a spin in race two after looking so dominating in qualifying Saturday, where he scored two pole positions.
Winslow is just eight points behind in third place and is well and truly in contention despite his own dramas today at the Western Sydney circuit.
Tander won the first race -- her third of the season -- after Caratti made a slow start and slipped back down the field.
Winslow had made the best start, but was penalised for rolling on the line and assessed a drive through penalty that dropped him down the field. With Tander unchallenged in front, Winslow cut his way though and re-set Alajajian's existing (2005) lap record en route to sixth place.
Tander won the race ahead of F3 returnee Chris Alajajian and Mat Sofi -- who recorded his second consecutive F3 podium with a strong drive to hold of a resurgent Caratti to the line.
The race was held for two safety car laps following an opening-lap altercation that involved the cars of Stuart Kostera and Mathew Radisich -- both ending up off the circuit at turn eight.
"It was a lucky win thanks to Winslow's penalty, but we'll take it," Tander said afterwards.
"We just didn't have the pace to challenge him but with a good start we got in front and just held Alajajian at bay from there. It was a very important win for the championship so it's quite pleasing. The team has done an excellent job."
Race two was more straightforward, though not for the polesitter Caratti.
After another slow getaway, Caratti was shuffled into the middle of the dicing top-eight pack until the fourth lap when he and Mat Sofi got mixed up at the turn two hairpin -- Sofi recovering in the middle of the field with Caratti unable to refire the car until the entire pack had passed.
Like his team-mate before him, Caratti set about charging though the field and re-set the lap record, leaving the new mark at 1m24.4881s. It was the third F3 lap record broken by the new-generation 2007-spec Dallara's this season.
Winslow was unchallenged at the front of the field and pulled away seemingly at ease to record a stunning 11.8 second win -- the biggest race-winning margin of the series this year.
Tander was a safe second to ensure the biggest points haul of the weekend whilst Alajajian again moved forward and scored his second podium of the weekend with third.
Caratti recovered to 12th and heads to Phillip Island tied on points with Tander after leading by 20 ahead of today's races.
"It was a great recovery and a fantastic comeback from the race one penalty," Winslow said following his crushing race two win.
"The car was fantastic and full credit goes to my engineer J.P. and the team for their hard work. I'm working as hard as I can to get the budget to complete the remainder of the year because I know I can win this championship."
Alajajian's pair of podium finishes capped off a solid return weekend for the North Shore driver whilst Mat Sofi closed in on fourth in the championship with his race one podium -- and his solid drive though the field in the second race to recover to 7th.
Piccola driver Justin Tate was impressive on his Championship-class F3 debut, finishing 5th in race one after running as high as third in the early stages following a strong start.
In the F3 National Class Chris Gilmour extended his series lead to 44-points (A full round) over rival Lee Farrell whilst both watched as Tim Macrow drove into the distance in his R-Tek Motorsport Dallara -- winning both races and scoring a perfect 44 points for the weekend.
"It's been a great weekend," Macrow said.
"The team has done a great job and we got quicker and quicker all weekend. Thanks to R-Tek for the chance to drive and it'd be great to do some more rounds with them to keep the car towards the front."
In the F3 Trophy Class Andrew Mill (Property Solutions Group Dallara F301 -- Spiess) became the first F3 champion for the season after securing enough points to seal the deal and record his first F3 title.
With 88-points available in the remaining two rounds, Mill's 90-point margin is insurmountable after a weekend where he diced ahead of many cars contesting the F3 National and Championship classes.
His best lap in race two was three-tenths quicker than both Gilmour and Farrell's National class cars that were running directly ahead of Mill's older Dallara.
Mill has scored 203 points this season -- the most of any driver in any class.
With the championship delicately poised, the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship returns to the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit in four weeks, for the Shannons Nationals round to be contested between August 8 -- 10.
Race one at Phillip Island will be the 150th Championship Formula 3 race contested in Australia since the series was formed in 1999.