AUSF3: Oran Park: National Class preview

Talent packed Formula 3 National class readies for Look past the front gaggle of cars at this weekend's third round of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship and you're likely to see a battle just as intense as the one raging for the...

Talent packed Formula 3 National class readies for

Look past the front gaggle of cars at this weekend's third round of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship and you're likely to see a battle just as intense as the one raging for the outright lead.

The Formula 3 National class has exploded in 2008 with a depth of competition and ferocity of racing that has only been rivalled by the championship class in the last two or three seasons.

Primarily made up of the 2002 -- 2004 specification cars that contested the outright class for the past three years, the National Class is a hot mix of talented youngsters and experienced veterans all looking to make their mark and snare the lucrative $40,000 cash prize on offer to the winner this year.

Heading into this weekend's third round at Oran Park, National Class leader Lee Farrell heads Chris Gilmour by just two points after both caused the outright cars to look over their shoulders at the Clipsal 500 in February.

Farrell, who now lives in Melbourne after moving from Ireland mid last year, drives for top team BRM and leads the series after a convincing series of wins in the first two rounds.

Drawing on the three years worth of data and over outright 15 race wins in 2004-spec cars that Team BRM has on offer, Farrell had every reason to be considered the class favourite ahead of this season but has backed up expectation with solid results in the first two rounds.

Matching his Irish rival for pace, and certainly overshadowing him in the experience stakes, is affable Queenslander Chris Gilmour.

Australia's self-proclaimed 'Fastest Real Estate agent' makes his day-to-day living selling houses in the greater Brisbane area, but after several years of toiling against bigger budgeted teams and drivers is using the National Class to re-establish his winning Formula 3 credentials with his family-run Gilmour Racing Dallara.

Gilmour has over 50 Formula 3 race starts and at the Clipsal 500 won his class in race two, his first F3 win since winning five times en-route to second outright in the 2004 championship.

Behind the leading pair a group of new and revitalised drivers will attempt to challenge for class supremacy.

Youngster Mathew Radisich has lived up to his big surname in the championship to date, 2008 marking the first time he has committed to a full season's running with successful team Scud Racing.

Radisich sits fourth in the points race but is less than one race win away from the leaders.

Behind Farrell, Gilmour and Radisich, several drivers that contested the opening two rounds have moved on from the championship -- but no fear; their seats have been filled by some equally capable talent.

The prime seat at TanderSport, shared by Chris Reindler (A1GP) and Samantha Reid (Clipsal) so far this year, now falls to experienced New Zealander Ben Crighton.

With three years' experience in his homeland's Formula Toyota series, Formula Ford and even Formula 4000 in Australia, he gives TanderSport a solid opportunity to keep their Kiwi affiliation at the top of the podium following team Manager Garth's triple win in the V8s, at the weekend.

Jumping into Astuti Motorsports' #24 car is Ash Samadi -- a name that fans of Sports and GT -- style racing would be very familiar with, whilst making the step up to play with the National Class regulars this weekend will be 16-year-old Scud Racing pilot Justin Tate.

After impressing everyone with his poise, presentation and -- importantly -- driving talent with stunning runs at the Clipsal 500, Tate will enter his Scud Racing F301 Dallara in the National Class for the first time at the weekend, and for the remainder of the championship season.

At Clipsal Tate showed speed more akin to someone ten years his seniority when he charged from 23rd to 9th in just 13 laps on the demanding street circuit.

Tate's car has pedigree against 2004-spec machinery -- it's the car Tim Macrow used to good effect in '05 and '06 -- and this weekends step up in class can only accelerate Tate's already impressive F3 learning curve.

Former Trophy Class champion Graeme Holmes and an entry from local team Piccola Scuderia Corse will make up an 8-car National Class field at Oran Park this weekend.

Joining the fun will be four entries in the F3 Trophy, points leader Andrew Mill looking to challenge cars much further up the grid in his Property Solutions Group F301. South Aussie 18-year-old Jesse Wakeman will also look to take a step forward in his first visit to Oran Park whilst Rod Anderson and David Choon are also set to compete.

The race-within-a-race format of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship provides competitors with an avenue to affordably gain experience in F3 cars in a competitive environment as they work a path into the top-level championship class cars that contest the Australian Drivers Championship.

A 20-car field will take to the track at Oran Park this weekend as part of round two of the 2008 Shannons National Motor Racing Championships, between April 25 -- 27.

National Class Points -- Top 5 -- After 2 of 8 Rounds

1. Lee Farrell 50
2. Chris Gilmour 48
3. Daniel Schulz 41
4. Mathew Radisich 34 25. James Crozier 18

-credit: formula3.com.au

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About this article
Series F3
Drivers Ash Samadi , Chris Gilmour , Jesse Wakeman , Ben Crighton , Mathew Radisich , Graeme Holmes , Andrew Mill