Phillip Island Race Report


Round 3 Australian Formula 3 Championship


4 – 6 May 2007


Phillip Island, VIC


Race Report


As I have often been in recent rounds, I was once again fastest during Friday practice when times unfortunately don’t count!  The car felt great, though, so I was pretty determined to stay at the front for the remainder of the weekend.


In typical Phillip Island fashion, the fine conditions of Friday were replaced with rain on Saturday morning and for a little while it looked as though we would have a wet qualifying session.  The rain stopped, however, and the sessions before F3 dried a line around the circuit so although very cold, the track was pretty much dry by the time we went out to qualify.


There aren’t really any good reasons why I didn’t get pole in the first qualifying session.  The car was great and I had been fast throughout practice but when it came to the crunch I didn’t put the lap together I needed.  I encountered traffic four laps in a row when my tyres would have been at their prime, and that definitely cost me time, but traffic is a part of racing so unfortunately for me I ended up second by a fair chunk – about half a second.


I was keen to get pole in the second qualifying and knew I was capable, as my car appeared to be just as good on used tyres as it was on new.  As hard as I tried, however, I was just pipped for pole by less than 5 hundredths of a second.  I was slightly frustrated but still looking forward to the races, both of which I would be starting from the front row.


Race One


My initial launch at the start was good but the rear tyres soon broke into wheelspin and cost me a lot of time heading towards turn one.  By the time I exited turn two I had fallen back to fifth having been hung out to dry on the entry of turn two.  Next lap I understeered off the track on the exit of the second last turn and fell even further back to seventh.


It seemed to take a little while for my tyres to come up to temperature but, once they did, I was fast enough to race at the front but down in seventh.  It took me most of the race to catch and pass Mat Sofi and Stuart Kostera and got to within a second of Tim Macrow when the chequered flag came out.  I was rather annoyed with myself for making such a huge blunder on the start as Macrow and Hollings, 1st and 2nd in the championship, had once again widened the gap to me in championship standings.  The car had shown it was fast, though, so I set about focussing on race two.


Race Two


Determined not to make the same mistake again, I studied the data from my start in race one and worked out exactly where I went wrong and how to fix it.  It seemed to work as, although I didn’t make up any positions, I made a clean start with minimal wheelspin and slotted into second right behind Winslow.  I followed him around for the first lap, aware of Mat Sofi very close behind me in third.  I got an ordinary run out of MG at the end of the first lap and fell out of Winslow’s slip-stream.  Sofi towed up behind me and passed me into turn one.  I didn’t stay third for long, however, passing Sofi back under brakes into Honda the same lap.  Winslow had not made much of a gap so it did not take me long to get back on his tail and, at the end of the second lap, I used his tow to gain momentum and pull up alongside him as we headed into turn one.  Winslow chose the inside line and, carrying a fair bit more speed, I passed him around the outside.


From there I put my head down and drove as fast as I could to pull a gap.  Sofi passed Winslow not long after I did and I could see him in my mirror catching me ever so slightly for a couple of laps.  My car just kept getting better and better however, and before long I started gapping him and set the fastest lap of the race along the way.


By the time Garth told me there were three laps to go I had a fairly decent gap back to second and could afford to brake just a little earlier everywhere to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid.  I finally crossed the line at the end of the race and claimed my first F3 win.  It was a great feeling and hopefully, now that I have one under my belt, there will be more to follow.


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