F3's ORAN PARK LAP RECORD UNDER THREAT AS TANDER TOPS ROUND TWO TEST SESSION. Oran Park Raceway's four-year-old series lap record could well be obliterated when the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star returns to...
F3's ORAN PARK LAP RECORD UNDER THREAT AS TANDER TOPS ROUND TWO TEST SESSION.
Oran Park Raceway's four-year-old series lap record could well be obliterated when the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star returns to racing next weekend at the demanding circuit in Sydney.
Pre-event testing for the second round of the championship was conducted yesterday in near perfect conditions and a number of leading competitors undercut the existing mark (1m03.97s, held by Michael Caruso since 2003) considerably.
One such driver was Leanne Tander, who scored her career first pole position at the circuit late last season and backed up that performance by unofficially banking the quickest time in testing yesterday.
Leanne took her Fleetcare TanderSport Dallara F304 Spiess to a best time of 1m03.3s, over half a second quicker than her pole position lap in qualifying in the November race at the track last year.
Coming off the back of showcasing her production car racing skills in the recent Bathurst 12 hour, Tander is a fan of the Oran Park layout and her pace in testing should be indicative of a strong round for the Melbourne-based driver who originally hails from Sydney.
"Our day went pretty well and we were able to achieve most of what we wanted," Tander, 25, said.
"On new tyres the setup of our Fleetcare TanderSport entry was very good and we were able to set some good lap times given the track was pretty slippery and not as good as it can be.
"I'm fairly happy with the package we have and I know that I could've gone quicker on our best lap. It's going to be a very competitive round and I can't wait to get there and get racing again."
Unofficially posting the second-fastest time was British driver Charlie Hollings, who took his Astuti Motorsport Dallara -- Renault to a quick lap of 1m03.7s on old Kumho Tyres.
Hollings -- known, thanks to his recently introduced mascot, as the British Bulldog -- has been a standout performer of the first two championship rounds and scored a pole position at the A1GP meeting at Eastern Creek in February.
He backed that up with two race wins at the non-championship Australian Grand Prix support events and looks a leading contender for the year ahead.
"It was our first real test day with the team and It was good to get a day's running under our belts," he said.
"I had only arrived back into Australia at 8pm the previous night and by the end of the day I was pretty tired, so we elected not to put new rubber on. But it was a good day and I'm feeling confident about next weekend."
Fellow Briton James Winslow had a difficult day as his Opes Prime supported team continues to come to grips with their ex Mansell / Fortec Racing Dallara F304 Mugen.
His car continues to suffer from a number of niggling mechanical problems but has shown pace recently in a competitive yet unfortunate run at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Winslow, the 2006 Asian F3 Champion, posted a best of 1m04.2s to tie with Sydney driver Mat Sofi and Italian youngster Marco Mapelli.
Sofi, a standout performer to date in his Sophomore Formula 3 season, said that the test session at Oran Park was as much about getting reacquainted with the car as it was banking hot lap times.
"It wasn't the best day but it was good to get back in the car," Said Sofi of his Total Developments / R-Tek F3 Mugen-powered Dallara.
"At the end of the day we made some changes to the car and it really came good but I ran out of laps to improve my time. My best lap of the day came on my last one so there is certainly room for improvement."
Mapelli survived a few minor offs' throughout the day to complete his second ever test day with Team BRM and will be looking to continue the racy form he showed at the Grand Prix support events a month ago, where he consistently finished on the podium.
The five drivers testing at Oran Park yesterday -- Tander, Hollings, Mapelli, Winslow and Sofi -- will be joined by fellow leading contenders Stuart Kostera, Tim Macrow and Chris Gilmour at next weekend as this year's Australian Drivers Championship continues to shapes up as one of the most competitive yet.
The second round of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship will be contested over the April 20 -- 22 weekend.