AUSF3: Jesse Wakeman facing a race against time

ADELAIDE DRIVER JESSE WAKEMAN FACING A RACE AGAINST TIME TO GET ON TRACK FOR HOME TOWN FORMULA 3 ROUND South Australian driver Jesse Wakeman faces a race against time to get his shattered race car back on track for next weekends' fourth round ...


South Australian driver Jesse Wakeman faces a race against time to get his shattered race car back on track for next weekends' fourth round of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship at Mallala Raceway - his home round.

After posting one of his most impressive performances yet in the first practice session, 20-year-old Wakeman was an innocent party in a five-car smash at Oran Park that left his Dallara F301 -- Spiess Opel entry massively damaged and his rookie season in F3 hanging in the balance.

Wakeman was the last of four cars to make contact with the stranded entry of Graemme Holmes at a blind part of Oran Park's undulating layout.

After hitting fluid on the circuit, Wakeman's R-Tek Motorsport Services entry spun and cannoned into the side of Holmes' car, casing massive damage. Leanne Tander, Mat Radisich and Mat Sofi were all involved in the accident.

All drivers fortunately emerged unscathed -- though sore and winded -- following the impact, showing the massive safety properties employed in the design of Formula 3 chassis'.

The impact destroyed most of the right-hand rear of Wakeman's car, including the complete right-rear suspension setup, brake disc and wheel, the side pod, engine cover, rear and front wings and associated aerodynamic components.

The crash -- estimated to have caused over $50,000 worth of damage to Wakeman's car alone -- also tore the alloy inlet trumpets from the head of the Spiess Opel engine, destroying both. In the process the wiring loom was crushed and the Carbon Fibre air box -- a signature component in Formula 3 racing -- was also destroyed.

The crash left the privateer - who lives in Kersbrook in the Adelaide hills - and his family-supported team scrambling to source components to try and get the car on track for their home round, which begins in eight days time as part of the Shannons Nationals event at Mallala.

With the experienced R-Tek crew on hand, Wakeman's car was back in Adelaide the Monday following the Oran Park round with the team immediately assessing the damage and components needed.

An unprecedented show of support from fellow Formula 3 teams has allow the team to source both a complete 'rolling' chassis (a car without engine) and a replacement Spiess Opel engine to assist in the rebuild process.

Parts from the newly purchased chassis will be used in the reconstruction of the 2004 Championship winning car (Then driven by Karl Reindler) that Wakeman hopes to race again at Mallala next week.

"The car has been completely stripped and cleaned, and every part that we need accounted for," Wakeman explained today.

"The rolling chassis and new engine will arrive on Thursday (May 8th) and that will give the team five or six days to rebuild a complete car from two incomplete ones to try and get us back on track for Mallala. It's easier for us to rebuild my original car as it's a known quantity - the new car we have purchased is purely for parts.

"As Mallala is my home track it's the place where I've done the most laps in a Formula 3 car -- and after a promising performance at Oran Park before the crash I was very confident that we would go really well in front of my supporters at Mallala."

Whilst he anticipates an 80% or better chance of returning to the track next weekend, Wakeman said that the remainder of his season would be placed in doubt without further funds.

"The crash has been a big setback," he added.

"It will probably mean that we can't complete the season due to the costs of repairing the car but we'll go and give Mallala the best shot we can. If we can go well there then we'll see what happens for the remainder of the year.

"The team are working around the clock to try and piece everything together in time for practice next Friday."

Wakeman noted the massive efforts the Formula 3 community has gone to in order to get the fledgling young driver back on track so soon after the massive impact.

"Errol Gilmour (Gilmour Racing) and Sam Astuti (Astuti Motorsport) have been instrumental in helping us out with the engine and chassis," Wakeman said.

"And of course, the R-Tek team have been amazing. There was not a lot of turn-around time between rounds so to even have the car at the point of being ready to rebuild is fantastic.

"I know that they build a quick race car so I'm confident that if we get back on track we should be able to go well."

Graeme Holmes, who's car was also essentially written off in the smash, has also received support from the Formula 3 community in a similar fashion in order to return to the series later this year.

Mallala raceway's round of the Shannons National Motor Racing Championships will feature round four of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star.

British driver James Winslow currently leads the championship after a stunning win with Astuti Motorsport at Oran Park.

Leanne Tander also won in Sydney, her first win of the season. So far five different drivers (Winslow, Tander, Nathan Caratti, Neil McFadyen and Ben Clucas) have won the five races contested to date.

-credit: formula3.com.au

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Series F3
Drivers Ben Clucas , Neil McFadyen , James Winslow , Leanne Tander , Nathan Caratti , Jesse Wakeman , Graeme Holmes , Karl Reindler