AUSF3: Schedule confirmed for 2008 Gold Star Battle

The 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship schedule has today been officially confirmed by Formula 3 Australia. The eight round, sixteen race schedule features racing in five states on some of the best circuits in the country, as...

The 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship schedule has today been officially confirmed by Formula 3 Australia.

The eight round, sixteen race schedule features racing in five states on some of the best circuits in the country, as well as the addition of the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide and the return of Melbourne's Sandown Raceway to the calendar.

The championship will once again hold a majority of its rounds as one of the key headlining acts of the expanding Shannons National Motor Racing Championships (Shannons Nationals) after the season kicks off at A1GP and the Clipsal 500 in February.

The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport event at Eastern Creek -- a favourite of Formula 3 drivers and teams thanks to its excellent facilities and high speed nature -- marks the third time that the Australian Formula 3 Championship has been the main support act to the World Cup of Motorsport.

The bond will be strengthened further this season thanks to the participation of several F3 Alumni in the A1GP ranks -- namely Chris Alajajian (A1 Team Lebanon) and James Winslow (A1 Team GBR).

The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport meeting will be held at Eastern Creek between February 1 -- 3.

Wings and Slicks open wheelers will return to the world renowned Adelaide street circuit in February when the series returns to the Clipsal 500 Adelaide (Feb 21 -- 24) after a four year absence.

At the series last visit -- in 2004 -- the series produced classic street circuit racing and smashed the outright track record to a super fast 1m19.4959s. Newer cars and a much more competitive field should see this time lowered dramatically given good conditions.

The teams will have March off to recover from the hectic start to the season before racing resumes with the Shannons Nationals at Oran Park Raceway on the ANZAC Day long weekend -- April 25 -- 27.

After featuring twice on the schedule in 2007, Oran Park gets just the one appearance in '08 and teams will be looking to make the most of the challenging, undulating nature of this true drivers track.

The series will return to Adelaide between May 16 -- 18 and the staple wintery round at Mallala Raceway.

The tight circuit -- essentially three long straights connected with tight hairpins -- produced one of the most spectacular races in Formula 3 history in 2007 when a gaggle of seven cars diced for the race lead in treacherous wet / dry conditions. South Australian fans will be looking for more of the same in a year when they get a double dose of F3 action.

The fastest track of all is saved for the fifth round -- Phillip Island -- on June 14 / 15.

A circuit where F3 cars lap seven seconds quicker than a V8 Supercar and four seconds quicker than Valentino Rossi's MotoGP Lap record, Phillip Island regularly produces stunning races featuring packs of cars dicing for the race lead. The circuit is memorable for Leanne Tanders' first ever F3 race win as well as the closest finish in F3 history -- 0.0032s -- set back in 2006.

The series returns to Eastern Creek three weeks later for the now traditional July meeting -- this year on the 11th and 12th of the month.

Even though it's the middle of Winter, Eastern Creek has turned on perfect racing weather in the past three seasons and teams will be hoping for more of the same this year at the only circuit on the schedule visited twice.

A trip across Bass straight between September 20 -- 21 will see the return of the Australian Formula 3 SuperPrix.

The series trip in 2007 was the inaugural running of this unique event which will once again feature a longer second race and significant prizes to raise the stakes even further this year.

The Tasmanian fans and media embraced the event last year and -- along with the John Bowe Trophy -- will hopefully return in even bigger numbers this year.

The final showdown will be saved for November 29 -- 30 when the championship returns to another track it hasn't visited in four years -- Sandown Motor Raceway in suburban Melbourne.

The high speed track is a drafting paradise and, like Phillip Island, should be an awesome place to watch the fastest cars in the country do battle to decide the winner of the 52nd Australian Drivers Champion.

The schedule is subject to change pending the outcome of negotiations with several other major events, currently underway.

As in the past each round of the championship will feature two races on Sunday, preceded by two qualifying sessions on Saturday to set the grid for each race.

The points structure -- paying 20 points for a win down to just one for 10th place, plus a one-point bonus for pole position and fastest lap per race -- remains the same.

The major change for the new season is the introduction of the massive new prizes from series sponsor Opes Prime -- outlined in detail on www.formula3.com.au

Teams and drivers are currently testing at Eastern Creek in Sydney in preparation for next weeks season opener.

-credit: formula3.com.au

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Series F3
Drivers Valentino Rossi , John Bowe , James Winslow , Leanne Tander , Phillip Island