GOLD STAR DOWN TO THE WIRE AGAIN FOLLOWING COMPETITIVE AND CONTROVERSIAL SENDOFF AT ORAN PARK TIM Macrow will lead the Formula 3 Australian Driver's championship into the 2009 finale' at Sandown - one way or another - after coming out on top...
GOLD STAR DOWN TO THE WIRE AGAIN FOLLOWING COMPETITIVE AND CONTROVERSIAL SENDOFF AT ORAN PARK
TIM Macrow will lead the Formula 3 Australian Driver's championship into the 2009 finale' at Sandown - one way or another - after coming out on top after a competitive and controversial pair of races at Oran Park.
It was a spectacular sendoff to top level, wings and slicks racing at the Narellan circuit, the final race drawing to a close an important chapter in Australia's premier open wheel formula.
Oran Park has played a critical role in the successes of Australia's top open wheel drivers, and it will be Tim Macrow who forever holds the distinction of being the last ever Gold Star race winner at the circuit.
Macrow won race two but both 14-lap races held today were dramatic, competitive and, in some instances, highly controversial.
The race one results will remain provisional following an appeal that will be held prior to the final round of the championship in November.
From pole, Macrow got the best start in race one and led Foster and Sofi into turn one, where all hell promptly broke loose.
A collision between Roger I'Anson, Ben Crighton and Tom Tweedie left the latter two out of the race within 500 meters of the start. Chris Gilmour was also involved but lived to fight another day and eventually recovered to fourth outright and first of the National Class cars.
After a brief safety car period, Joey Foster got a run on Macrow and passed him into turn two for the race lead on the restart.
On lap seven Sofi got a run on Macrow out of turn three, drawing nearly alongside at the following corner before the two made contact, sending Macrow into a spin - though he was able to recover quickly with little time lost.
Sofi then set out after leader Foster and, on the eleventh lap, closed on him over the dogleg.
Attempting a passing maneuver into the final corner, the two cars made contact with Foster spinning to the outside of the circuit - though avoiding contact with the wall - with Sofi continuing to eventually take the checkered flag first.
Foster finished second and Macrow third however, following a stewards hearing after the race, Sofi was penalized by race officials 33 seconds (the equivalent of a drive through penalty) for the contact with Foster in the final corner, relegating him to fourth outright and third of the championship class runners.
Sofi later appealed the decision so, though the amended results will show Foster taking the win, the entire race results - and points standings - will remain provisional until a hearing is conducted prior to the finale' at Sandown.
There was no respite for teams in race two either, the second race red-flagged after one racing lap when Chris Gilmour was T-boned by Maher Algadri after the Queenslander spun exiting the final corner.
Though both drivers were uninjured - if a little sore - the race was red flagged to allow the cleanup.
Shortened to twelve laps, race two was restarted with Macrow leading a slightly more sedate battle over Sofi - who didn't get the best of starts from pole position - Crighton and Foster.
The status quo remained until Joey Foster dived up the inside of Ben Crighton, at turn two, on the eleventh lap. Side by side, the pair made contact in an impact that jumped Foster into the air and ended Crighton's positive run in third place.
Thus, the New Zealander scored zero points for the weekend, extending the gap between himself and Mat Sofi for third in the title race.
Foster was able to limp home in seventh (third in championship class) whilst Macrow held of Sofi to take his seventh win of the year and the final ever F3 and Australian Driver's Championship race at Oran Park.
The results of race two will also remain provisional as a further investigation will be conducted into the Foster - Crighton incident when TV footage becomes available to race officials.
Local driver Tom Tweedie finished third outright for the second time this season in his National Class, Battery World supported Dallara.
With the provisional results, Macrow will take a four point lead into the final round at Sandown, leading Foster 232 - 228.
The Melbournian was justifiably pleased with the final race win, noting both his and his family's successes at Oran Park.
"It's a great result," He said. "This place has been very good to me with wins here in 2006 and sealing the title in 2007. I also won here in Formula Ford so to be able to win my last ever race here - and the last ever Gold Star race - is pretty significant.
"It's crucial for us in the championship. Either way the appeal hearing goes, at Sandown we will be leading as the results don't change that much.
"To have caught up as much as we have is a testament to the team that we have this year, but the battle starts here.
"Either way I'm less than the difference between first and second in one race ahead of Joey, so it's going to be very competitive and we will go and fight for the title as we did in 2007."
Foster said he was relieved with the results after a challenging weekend saw him battling hard after struggling for pace earlier in the weekend.
"To be honest, I'm quite relieved given the weekend we have had," Foster said.
"The championship is really close so we'll go and fight as hard as I can at Sandown. It's good for the championship to be this close - perhaps not as much for me!
"It's a shame race two was red flagged because I got a great start from fifth to second - but that was all ended when the stopped the race. Still, it's a good weekend for us and we'll now try to fight for the title at Sandown."
Tom Tweedie was pleased to score a National class win on home turf whilst South Aussie driver Roger I'Anson scored an impressive second in class after mixing it with the best of the National Class all weekend.
Bevan Carrick and Graeme Holmes each scored a top-five finish today.