JOHN MARTIN WINS NIKON INDY F3 CHALLENGE WHILST WINSLOW WINS RACE THREE DOGFIGHT John Martin has won the Nikon Indy 300 F3 Challenge, but reigning Australian Formula 3 Champion James Winslow claimed the final and dramatic race of the round at ...
JOHN MARTIN WINS NIKON INDY F3 CHALLENGE WHILST WINSLOW WINS RACE THREE DOGFIGHT
John Martin has won the Nikon Indy 300 F3 Challenge, but reigning Australian Formula 3 Champion James Winslow claimed the final and dramatic race of the round at Surfers Paradise.
After two race wins and a leading both the qualifying and practice session, Martin of the Piccola Scuderia team narrowly edged out Winslow for the non-championship event victory - though he had to cede today's eight-lap finale'.
"It's been great to come here to Australia for Formula 3 for this one race and do so well not having been here before," Martin said. "It's the first time I've been here, apart from PlayStation of course!"
While Martin was the favourite to win the third and final, it was James Winslow who showed the crowd why he was crowned the Australian Drivers Champion this season.
"It's a great result for us, we had a lot of pace throughout the weekend, but we just needed it all to come together in the end, and thankfully it did in this final race," Winslow said.
James Winslow repeated his feat in race one of taking the lead from Martin when the lights went out and what followed was a close and very hard fought battle - with mere tenths of a second separating the pair all race long.
Martin was able to get his nose alongside on a couple of occasions without completing the move, but when a safety car came out for two laps it came down to a final lap dash to decide the winner.
Winslow was able to hold Martin to bay to take the win, but all eyes were looking further back into the field with some stunning and unpredictable action.
First Chris Alajajian dropped out of contention from third position with a loose left-rear wheel just as the safety car pulled in - and then Leanne Tander and Nathan Caratti stunned onlookers when the two came together out of the second chicane.
Tander's Dallara F307 Mercedes Benz became stuck between gears, and completely an unsuspecting Caratti piled into the back of her, putting both out of the race.
"It just didn't have any drive, and unfortunately Nathan wouldn't have known that I was not going to get out of the corner like normal, so it was a really sad way to end the weekend for both of us," Leanne Tander said.
Earlier in the race on the first lap Caratti had almost clashed with Tander when he tapped the TanderSport car under brakes and sent her sideways, though both were able to maintain their respective positions.
The winner out of all the final lap drama was Mat Sofi - who suddenly found himself on the podium for Astuti Motorsport after a turbulent weekend, jumping from sixth to third on the final lap.
"I was optimistic for today's race and getting up there, and I knew we had the speed to be up there, but obviously I was quite fortunate to get the podium in the end," Mat Sofi said.
Chris Gilmour then put his Dallara F304 into fourth for an excellent finish as the first National Class runner, while Jesse Wakeman likewise steered through the carnage to put his R-Tek Motorsport Dallara F301 into fifth.
Steve Morcombe took sixth, Jonathon Grant seventh and John Mills finished in eighth.
While carnage occurred behind him, John Martin would not let his round win be overshadowed.
"I had quite a reasonably good start so we had a good battle into turn one but I had to let him go otherwise I was going to go across the chicane," Martin explained.
"It's been great to capture the round win and take the fastest lap in every single session, so it shows just how much pace we had over the entire weekend," he said.
The non-championship round was run using the normal points system, and Winslow was left to wonder ‘what could have been' for the weekend with only nine points separating the two drivers after three races.
"If I hadn't run wide in the first race I would have won it, and so I would have won the round, so that's a shame," Winslow lamented.
"But to take the win in the final race of the year is just a fantastic way to end the season!"
The Nikon Indy 300 Formula 3 Challenge was the final Kumho Tyres Australian F3 hit out of the year, details of the 2008 Australian Drivers Championship schedule to be announced within the next month.