AUSF3: Phillip Island: Series qualifying report

WINSLOW, TANDER TO TAKE THE ADVANTAGE OF POLE INTO RACEDAY AT THE ISLAND THE TOP THREE contenders in the Kumho tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship remain delicately poised in their battle for the 52nd Australian Drivers Championship...


THE TOP THREE contenders in the Kumho tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship remain delicately poised in their battle for the 52nd Australian Drivers Championship following two close qualifying sessions held today at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit in Victoria.

Leanne Tander flew to pole position for the 150th championship F3 race to be held tomorrow morning whilst Team BRM driver Winslow bounced back from an engine failure in qualifying one to score pole for race two.

In the F3 National Class Mathew Radisich scored his and TanderSports first pole positions in the F3 ‘race within a race' to set the grid for race two, whilst Gilmour edged closer to the class title with a race one pole and bonus championship point.

Times were typically tight all day in dry and cool conditions and it was Tander who jumped to the top in the first session, scoring her fifth pole position of the year and lining her up on top for F3's milestone race. The result - and bonus point - also lifted her to a clear lead in the championship after entering the round tied with Nathan Caratti.

Winslow had held the top spot early but an engine failure after just five laps left him in pit lane and with no answer when first Tander and then team-mate Caratti edged ahead as the session progressed.

"It's great to have pole but obviously it would be nice to have this result tomorrow," Tander said.

"We know the car is quick here and we've always had good race pace here so it's been a good start. Every point helps, but it's going to be very close tomorrow. Any one of the three can win it (the title)."

After a quick engine change between sessions James Winslow made the most of a fresh Mercedes Benz engine in qualifying two to withhold a concerted attack from his team-mate to take the race two pole - the second of his season to date.

Winslow made the use of a clear track to bank his time early whilst Caratti edged closer and closer in the final few minutes of the session to miss out by just .0652s, but still ensure Team BRM locked in it's fourth 1 - 2 qualifying effort of the season.

Winslow's time of 1m26.1626s was just 0.1 quicker than the pole time in the first session but full second faster than the series managed on their last visit to the Island in June.

"I just managed to get clear track early in the session and bank a time then, and just held off when the track was perhaps a bit quicker at the end," Winslow explained.

"We didn't have a chance to do anything but put the engine in and go - but the boys did a great job to get it turned around. I've always gone well in the second session this year for some reason so that continues this trend!"

Nathan Caratti will line up second for both races tomorrow whilst a stunning performance from third-round driver John Magro who set the fourth fastest time in both sessions today.

The North Queensland Mango farmer was just half a second from pole in qualifying one and not much further off in the second as he posted his best F3 performances of his brief career.

Mat Sofi will start fifth for both races whilst Piccola Scuderia driver Justin Tate will go from sixth.

The F3 National Class competition was just as intense as the outright battle as Chris Gilmour and Mat Radisich headed a close group of cars.

In the second session less than a second covered the top five National Class cars and the stunning Andrew Mill behind the wheel of his Trophy Class F301 Spiess.

"I'm really pleased, the team came on the radio and said that I had two laps to go (in Qualifying 2) so I got on it and we got a great result," Mat Radisich enthused after locking away his first National Class pole.

"It's so close between all of the National Class guys so it's going to be very competitive tomorrow. I'll give it my best shot."

Ben Crighton, Lee Farrell, Mill and Piccola driver Ash Bettridge are all grouped in the tight chasing pack.

Tomorrow's two races will make up the penultimate round of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship, race one the 150th championship F3 race to be held in Australia after the series officially begin at Mallala in 1999.

-credit: formula3.com.au

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Series F3
Drivers James Winslow , Leanne Tander , Nathan Caratti , Chris Gilmour , Ben Crighton , Mathew Radisich , Andrew Mill , Phillip Island