JAMES WINSLOW CROWNED CHAMPION AS LEANNE TANDER WINS COUNTRY CLUB TASMANIA FORMULA 3 SUPERPRIX. James Winslow has ensured that the CAMS Australian Drivers Championship and the Gold Star will return to the United Kingdom for just the second time...
JAMES WINSLOW CROWNED CHAMPION AS LEANNE TANDER WINS COUNTRY CLUB TASMANIA FORMULA 3 SUPERPRIX.
James Winslow has ensured that the CAMS Australian Drivers Championship and the Gold Star will return to the United Kingdom for just the second time in 52 years of competition after winning the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship in Tasmania today.
Meanwhile Leanne Tander was denied a challenge at the title after her engine failed after 13 laps of race one this morning, but she rebounded brilliantly to win the 30-lap Country Club Tasmania F3 SuperPrix to end her year on a high note.
In one of the most dramatic and unpredictable season finale's in all of Australian motorsport, Winslow won race one and the championship on the final lap after a rain shower made the 2.4km Symmons Plains circuit slippery and cost leader Stuart Kostera the win.
Polesitter Mathew Radisich led early but slipped back to allow Winslow and Tander to fight out the lead before Tander's engine went off song and ended her hopes of a race win.
A fast closing Kostera then diced with Winslow and took the lead only for the damp track to catch many cars out on the final lap and allowed Winslow to slip by and take the win.
Kostera recovered for second ahead of outgoing champion Tim Macrow, driving his old F301 Dallara.
In a carnage and action-filled affair Mat Sofi was fourth, despite a last-lap off track excursion at turn one when the rain hit, and South Australian youngster Jesse Wakeman a stunning fifth.
Winslow - now $80,000 richer due to the prize on offer for the champion - was cautious to celebrate following the race but once official results were confirmed his elation was clear to see.
"It is just unbelievable. After the year I have had I don't know quite what to feel. It hasn't sunk in yet," he beamed.
"I knew that Leanne was out of the race but I was so determined to win the championship in race one I pressed on as hard as I could. That's why I challenged Kostera when he passed me because I wanted to win to make sure of it.
"It's just fantastic. Amazing. The team has done a great job and thanks have to go to them and everyone that has been supporting me. After last season I was so determined to come back this year and win the series so I am just relieved and happy.
"It has been an amazing championship and very, very competitive. It's obviously disappointing for Leanne to have an engine go but she has been a great rival this year."
Winslow won five races in 2008, finished on the podium on nine times from ten races, scored three pole positions and three fastest race laps.
He follows Ben Clucas as the only Englishmen to win the Gold Star. The title also brought Team BRM a record fourth championship title after successes in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
Later in the afternoon Tander jumped to an early lead on the start of the 30-lap SuperPrix as a five car freight-train set about battling for the lead.
After swapping places with Winslow multiple times in the first ten laps, the Team BRM Car began to slip back and eventually retired after 15 laps with clutch problems.
Nathan Caratti then took up the challenge and pursued Tander aggressively, eventually closing to within a few tenths and engaging in a dice with a leader for the final few laps.
Tander withheld the challenge and a final flourish to the line saw the pair split buy just .06s at the line in the closest finish of the 2008 season to win the second ever John Bowe Trophy.
After the disappointment of having the championship taken from her grasp in race one, Tander said that the SuperPrix win went some ways to making up for the first race.
"The team did an awesome job, I can't thank them enough for getting the car back together and changing the engine between races," She said.
"Obviously it's disappointing to not have been able to win the championship and that is what we came here for, but that was a great race and a great dice with Nathan.
"It has been a challenging season and we came from a long way behind to challenge for it this weekend. My team is the best team in the business and just fantastic. I didn't win the championship but this win is a good one."
The championship was decided by four points, Winslow winning 198 - 194 after 15 grueling races, 230 laps and over 780 competitive kilometers.
Nathan Caratti finished third in the championship after enduring another tough weekend but once again showing his massive speed.
Caratti was involved in a high-speed incident with Mathew Radisich in race one that ended his hopes of a podium finish, but rebounded brilliantly in the second to come within a nose of winning the John Bowe Trophy and the SuperPrix race.
Mat Sofi's results in the second half of the season boosted him to fourth in the championship with 136 points.
In the Formula 3 National Class, Chris Gilmour wrapped up his long-awaited title and the $40,000 prize after a cautious pair of fourth-place finishes today.
Tim Macrow's near-perfect score lifted him to third in the class, behind Lee Farrell and ahead of Mathew Radisich and Ben Crighton.
The Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship will reconvene for a non-championship race at the Nikon indy 300 on the Gold Coast between October 22 - 26.