Opes Prime Team BRM has had one of its best weekends' in its ten year history after dominating all aspects of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship season opener at Eastern Creek. Having entered four cars, three in the outright...
Opes Prime Team BRM has had one of its best weekends' in its ten year history after dominating all aspects of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship season opener at Eastern Creek.
Having entered four cars, three in the outright race for the Gold Star award and one in the Opes Prime National Class, the three-time championship winning team not only won the first race of the season but also won the National Class battle as well, capping off a stunning weekend.
Only one race was contested at Eastern Creek at the weekend as a torrential downpour before the second race left the track flooded and was subsequently judged too dangerous after just four laps had been completed behind the safety car. Team BRM drivers were 1st, 2nd and third at the time the race was called.
In qualifying Nathan Caratti qualified second for the first race before a stunning session saw him score pole position for race two after the chequered flag had been displayed, bumping his team-mate Earl Bamber back to second place. With Winslow qualifying third, it became the second time in team history that they had locked out the first three grid positions in an Australian Formula 3 championship race.
All three championship class Team BRM cars qualified inside the top four for both races whilst National Class entrant Lee Farrell also qualified inside the top three in the National Class on both occasions.
Caratti made the best start of the first race, leaping to an early lead from the front of the grid to a lead that he would never loose. Behind him both Winslow and Bamber were able to jump into 2nd and 3rd, respectively, before Bamber was relegated back to his fourth-place starting spot soon after.
The positions remained constant for the following 13 laps, Caratti storming home to record a stunning victory -- his first in Formula 3 -- with Winslow second and Bamber a strong fourth on his F3 debut.
In the Opes Prime National Class Lee Farrell fought rivals Chris Gilmour and class polesitter Chris Reindler for the duration of the race and eventually came out on top to record a strong start to his championship campaign.
The net result sees Opes Prime Team BRM 1st, 2nd and 4th in the outright championship and leading the National Class as well.
"It was a stunning weekend," Team Manager Mark Rundle enthused.
"Everything went to plan and we're really happy with the performances across the board. Nathan did a fantastic job and lived up to the promise that we saw in testing before the round, he did a great job to win the first race. James showed why he's been running at the front in F3 for some time with a very strong performance whilst Earl proved that he is truly a star of the near future with a great rookie performance.
"Lee did an awesome job in the National Class to racer his way to the front to take the class win. It was a great weekend and the team can't wait for the next round -- our home race at the Clipsal 500." He said.
"I got a good start in the race and made up a place, which helped us to get onto the podium, and then I made another place later on the first lap," James Winslow said. "We had some setup problems earlier in the weekend, but we worked through them and in the end I think we had a lot of pace. Second is a good start; it was a real shame we couldn't run the second race, but we leave in second place anyway."
"It was a good first round for us," said 17 year old New Zealander Earl Bamber. "It was my first time in a Formula 3 car so it was going to be a little bit tough for us - but I think we did really well. I'm really looking forward to the next round in Adelaide; it's going to be a really exciting circuit. I didn't get the best of starts and dropped back a position, but other than that the race went well. We had a lot of car pace and the crew did an excellent job of preparing it."
"I got a good start, which put us into the lead straight away, and after that it was all about controlling the race and I settled into a comfortable groove," Race winner and championship leader Nathan Caratti said. "I'm really happy to get up for my first win and take the round win, and with it being the first round of the season it's the perfect start for us. It's really important at Eastern Creek to get into the lead, and once I did that I never really had a problem. I only really had to worry about keeping the car on the track and not making mistakes."
"The first race was obviously a good result. It was the first time I had been to Eastern Creek, and we got our heads around it," National Class winner Farrell enthused. "I made a good start and then later took the lead, so that went well for us. After I got into the lead I didn't ever really feel threatened so I was able to take it easy and it was comfortable in the end. The crew did a great job to fix some problems we had, and I just want to thank them for the win. It just feels really good to come to the first race of the year and come away with the win! We should be really competitive for the rest of the season and I look forward to it."
-credit: team brm