WAKEMAN STEPS UP A LEVEL FOR HOME FORMULA 3 AUSTRALIAN DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP RACE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN driver Jesse Wakeman turned 21 late last year - and it seems he has been given a late birthday present just in time for the opening round of the...
WAKEMAN STEPS UP A LEVEL FOR HOME FORMULA 3 AUSTRALIAN DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP RACE
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN driver Jesse Wakeman turned 21 late last year - and it seems he has been given a late birthday present just in time for the opening round of the 2009 Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide.
Wakeman, from the Adelaide hills town of Kersbrook, will step up the ranks to a National Class Dallara F304 run by experienced engineer and former racing champion Ian Richards, and his Wingfield-based R-Tek Motorsport team.
Jesse was one of the standout performers of the 2008 season and, driving an older model 2001 car, managed to place inside the top six in both the final championship round and at the non-championship Gold Coast Indy 300 event last October.
This year Wakeman will drive a car well and truly capable of finishing even higher - The same car driven by former F3 champions Tim Macrow and Karl Reindler to outright race podium finishes on two separate occasions last year.
"Last year was a learning year, but 2009 is all about getting some results," Jesse said today.
"It made sense to make the investment and step up a class of car to give us a better chance to feature higher on the results table. The car is very good and showed last year that it was not only capable of racing with the championship-class cars, but beating them as well.
"Last year was a huge help. We made the decision to go straight from Formula Vee to entry-level F3 and it has paid off. We looked at Formula Ford but the costs were almost identical and it made sense to get in the faster car that was going to help my career further.
"I couldn't think of a better way to return to my home race than in a new car with someone like Ian Richards helping out behind the scenes. He has a wealth of information available to him and knows how to get the most out of a car. He has been instrumental in helping me get to this point in my Formula 3 career and now I can't wait to work with him and the R-Tek team to take another step up." He said.
"It's going to be very exciting to make my debut in the new car at the Clipsal 500. It's another exciting step forward in my goal to win the Australian Drivers Championship and the Gold Star."
Richards - himself a racing champion driving a car designed and built by himself (in Formula 2 racing) in the 1980s - said that Wakeman was ready to take the step up a level.
"There is no doubt that at the end of last year, Jesse was driving very well and showed that he has what it takes to move up a level," Richards said.
"Last year was Jesse's first full season in a real racing car - and after the big crash at Oran Park (Where Jesse was innocently involved in another accident in Friday practice) set back the budget a long way so we weren't able to test anywhere near as much as we liked - but he still did a very good job."
Richards said that there was no reason to not expect a strong first-up result at the Clipsal 500 in two weeks time.
"At Indy last year, at a track he had never seen and a place with a reputation for being one of the tougher street tracks around, he did a very good job and kept his nose clean," Richards said. "Because of that he was able to finish inside the top five, and I can't see why if he takes the same approach a great result at Clipsal will be very possible."
Wakeman looks to be the only South Australian driver racing against an international field at the Clipsal 500 season opener, with drivers already entered hailing from Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
The Gold Star grid will tackle two races on the challenging 3.22km Adelaide Street circuit, where Formula 3 cars are now the fastest ever to lap the current configuration track.
The Adelaide event will kick-off an eight round championship that visits circuits like Wakefield Park, Phillip Island, Oran Park, Eastern Creek, Symmons Plains and Sandown in the quest to crown Australia's top Open Wheel driver.