F3

AUSF3: Oran Park: Friday notes

CHARLIE IN THE WET, LEANNE THE DRY AFTER UNPREDICTABLE DAY OF PRACTICE AT ORAN PARK Contender Charlie Hollings was impressive in the wet at Oran Park today whilst Tander was quickest in the dry, making it one-all heading into the crucial ...

CHARLIE IN THE WET, LEANNE THE DRY AFTER UNPREDICTABLE DAY OF PRACTICE AT ORAN PARK

Contender Charlie Hollings was impressive in the wet at Oran Park today whilst Tander was quickest in the dry, making it one-all heading into the crucial championship deciding weekend.

Unpredictable weather conditions have marred practice for the final round of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship at Oran Park in Sydney.

Early morning light rain turned into a thunderstorm and torrential downpour this morning, turning Oran Park Raceway into a sodden battleground when first practice stated at 9:40am.

It was the fourth round from the last five that has featured a wet Friday practice session.

In a vast contrast, the second practice session today was held in dry, humid conditions ensuring a trying day at the office for the field this weekend.

Championship contender Charlie Hollings topped first practice convincingly in his Astuti Motorsport Dallara F304 Renault Sodemo, 1.2 seconds quicker than rival Tim Macrow.

It was a pleasing return to some wet weather form for the Yorkshireman, who had failed to find the ideal balance in damp conditions in previous rounds.

"We're happy, the car is good and we have sorted the wet weather running out," Hollings said.

"It's been the one thing I've been disappointed about this season but it's much better here. We know the car is quick based on our pace here earlier this year (he scored two poles and two wins) so it should be a close weekend."

Macrow, however, was one of many victims of the wet conditions when he hit a puddle at speed and heavily crunched his Cooltemp / Scud Racing Dallara backwards into the Oran Park Pit wall.

The hit caused significant damage to the rear wing and gearbox housing, forcing the 23-year-old Victorians team to hurriedly repair the car to get it out in time for the second session.

"I was in fifth gear and I just hit a puddle. It turned around quicker than I knew it and, after doing a full 360, hit the wall with the back of the car," Macrow explained.

"I just had no warning at all and was going in a perfectly straight line and it just went."

Mat Sofi was third in the session, Leanne Tander fourth and Barton Mawer fifth.

In the dry second practice Tander leaped to the top of the timesheets, her 1m04.22s lap time just a few tenths from the pole time recorded at Oran Park earlier this year.

On new Kumho rubber, Leanne led Barton Mawer (#3 Opes Prime Team BRM Dallara) and Hollings.

Queenslander Chris Gilmour was a pleased fifth, ahead of Mat Sofi, Walter Grubmuller and Tim Macrow.

Macrow was able to repair the damage to his car after borrowing a rear gearbox housing and wing assembly from another team in time to contest the second session, although the car was still in its opening practice wet-weather settings.

"It's a good start to the weekend," Championship leader Leanne Tander said.

"The car isn't perfect but I'm confident in its pace in both the wet and dry conditions. We will make more changes overnight to try and improve for tomorrow but it's good so far."

A competitive battle is also evolving in the Kumho Tyres National and Trophy Classes, Already-crowned 2007 champ Chris Barry leading the charge of the National cars today ahead of Lauren Gray and John Boothman.

In the Trophy Class Rod Anderson was quickest ahead of Samantha Reid, who was enduring a misfire in her Dallara.

The Grand Finale' continues tomorrow with two, 20-minute qualifying sessions, the first setting the grid for Sundays first race and the afternoon session setting it for race two.

-credit: formula3.com.au

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Series F3
Drivers Charles Hollings , Barton Mawer , Walter Grubmuller , Tim Macrow , Leanne Tander , Chris Gilmour , Lauren Gray