Tough weekend at the office for Formula 3. Oran Park Round 3 3 Â 5 May, 2002 It was a drama filled weekend for competitors in the Australian Formula 3 Championship. The field was drastically reduced by CAMS' refusal to allow nine Level One...
Tough weekend at the office for Formula 3.
Round 3 3 5 May, 2002
It was a drama filled weekend for competitors in the Australian Formula 3 Championship. The field was drastically reduced by CAMS' refusal to allow nine Level One cars. A last minted effort by the Board of F3 Australia to gain an injunction against CAMS in the Victorian Supreme Court on Friday was blocked by CAMS whose legal representatives requested that they be allowed "more time" to consider their case.
However, Formula 3 members decided overwhelmingly that it was going to be business as usual at Oran Park, despite the depleted entry list.
Piccola Scuderia Corse had taken delivery of their two new cars from Italy just a week or two before the round. With BRM's Manderson leading the championship, PSC's Jams Cressey really needed to have a good weekend.
Will Power competing in F3 for the first time was the unknown quantity. Driving a '97 Dallara Toyota, Queenslander Power comes to Formula 3 with a big reputation already established in Formula Ford, and this year, in Formula Holden. The unlucky Paul Stephenson was again unable to score points this time because of the fuel cell testing controversy.
Mike Beeley's MSpeed team were looking forward to consolidating their position after a strong showing by Matt Fitzgerald at Symmons Plains.
It was clear from first practice session on Friday that PSC's new cars required a lot of sorting, BRM continued their string of good performances , but Will Power was the fastest driver on the track on Friday, sending out a clear signal to all competitors that he would be the man to beat,
The first qualifying session took place in warm conditions on Saturday. Power displayed his ability to read a qualifying session, putting in several fastest laps and claiming pole for race one in a time of 1.04.128 a stunning time which was nearly a second faster than the race lap record from 2001 held by Peter Hackett. Manderson and Palmer were second and third, with Cressey disappointed to qualify fourth. Matt Fitzgerald was fifth and rookie Ricky Occhipinti was sixth.
In the National Series, Paul Trengove's run of outs continued, failing to qualify due to a fuel pump problem. He would start from the back of the grid in race one. Rod Anderson was fastest in level two.
Second qualifying session was slower the track not as quick in the afternoon. Again Will Power dominated, with BRM unable to answer the challenge. Power took pole in a 1.05.079 with Manderson and Palmer following. Trengove got out in the second session after an heroic effort to solve his fuel pump problems and took pole comfortably. Mike Beeley had a major moment, losing his rear wing completely as he came onto the main straight, and disappearing off the track at turn one.
Race day weather conditions were again perfect. Warm sunny condition with no breeze and a fast track. Race one had plenty of incidents. Power was fast of the line and quickly opened up a gap to the BRM twins, Manderson and Palmer. Palmer was given a stop go penalty for jumping the start and was back to eleventh. The PSC cars were struggling, with several off track excursions experienced by both Brewer and Cressey. One of Cressey's spins at turn one brought out the Safety Car for three laps, but he managed to get going and rejoined the race, three laps down.
Meanwhile, at the front, Manderson was making no impression on Power. Ricky Occhipinti also spun off on the last turn but managed to get back on, his race car covered in dust. Paul Trengove was driving a great race his level two car up to fifth. At the flag, Power took the win, with Manderson in for second. Palmer recovered from his stop go penalty to finish third, with Matt Fitzgerald fourth and Paul Trengove delighted to finish fifth. Championship contender, Kiwi James Cressey had a horror race to finish a disappointing tenth.
Race two was more pedestrian affair. No incidents, and Power lead commandingly from pole to flag a dominant Schumacher-esque performance from this talented Queenslander from Toowomba. Both Occhipinti and Trengove stalled on the start line, but both drivers managed to get going before the field came round. PSC had worked hard between races, and both cars were performing better. Power finished first, with Manderson and Palmer following him home. James Cressey was pleased to finish fourth. Matt Fitzgerald was unable to reproduce his form from Symmons Plains and finished fifth, just in front of his team mate Mike Beeley.
Rod Anderson finished first in Level Two, the National Series, and wsas followed home by Trengove .
With so many of their fellow competitors missing from the grid, the atmosphere all weekend was sombre, but the racing was good and Formula 3 now moves on to Winton in six weeks time for Round Four.
Manderson leads the Chmpionship on 103 points with Darren Palmer second on 78, James Cressey third on 70 and Will Power on 43. In level two, Rod Anderson leads from Paul Trengove and Bill Maddocks.