The One That Got Away - Phillip Island Race Report


The One That Got Away


Phillip Island Race Report


After a positive start to the weekend, Leanne has gone away from round 5 of the Australian Formula 3 Championship feeling as though it was the “one that got away.”


Leanne’s Phillip Island form (she won two races there in 2007) looked set to continue when she grabbed the pole position during Saturday’s first qualifying session held in variable weather conditions.  It was her first pole on the circuit, which improved her confidence heading into the second qualifying session later that day.


Again, the weather was variable, with the session starting out dry.  But there was only time for one full lap before the rain came down, and Leanne’s cold-tyre first lap had not been as quick as some of her competitors.  Leanne sat in 4th and it didn’t look like there would be any chance of moving up the grid as the rain continued to dampen the 4.4km circuit.  In the final few minutes of the session, however, the rain stopped, and a dry line appeared in all but two corners – Honda (turn 4) and Siberia (turn 5).  Driving as fast as she dared through the wet corners, Leanne’s final flying lap was enough to jump her from 4th to 2nd, securing her a front row starting position for the second race.


The on-and-off showers continued overnight and into Sunday morning, leaving the track damp but drying for the start of Race 1.  Leanne’s starting grid position was damp, but she nevertheless made a great start and took the lead into the first corner.  Leanne was soon under attack from Winslow and McFadyen, but they soon became involved in their own battle, giving Leanne some clear air to try and pull a gap.  An incident between Winslow and McFadyen, however, caused Winslow to become bogged on the outside of Honda and the safety car was brought out.  On the restart, Leanne held off Caratti, who had moved into 2nd, for a lap or so before he was finally able to drag past her down the long Phillip Island straight and into turn one.  Leanne refused to give in, however, fighting back in turn 2 with an overtaking move around the outside.  Caratti and Leanne ran side-by-side down, the straight, through turn 3 and into the braking area of Honda.  Having the inside line, Leanne managed to come out of the turn in the lead and worked hard to make a break before the straight.  Her rear tyres were starting to overhear, however, and Leanne struggled to get the power down out of MG as well as Caratti, allowing him to once again draft past before turn one.  Hard as she tried, Leanne could not find a way back past and had to settle for 2nd place.


Not unhappy with her result, Leanne was determined to make up ground in Race 2.  Unfortunately, an average start off the line meant she slipped back to 3rd before the first corner and had to fight hard to keep McFadyen behind her.  As they came around onto the start finish straight for the end of the first lap, the safety car was deployed for an incident that had occurred in turn 2.


Once the safety car had left the circuit, Winslow, the leader, accelerated as they headed into the final turn.  The convoy of cars followed and were doing 180km per hour on the exit of the final turn when Winslow decided to back off the throttle to gain an advantage.  Kostera, in second, slammed on the brakes and Leanne had no option but to swerve to the inside to avoid crashing into the car in front.  Unfortunately, however, this was deemed to be an overlap by the stewards of the meeting and Leanne was forced to serve a drive through penalty.  Upon completion of the penalty, Leanne drove as fast as she could and made her way back up to 6th outright and 5th in class to earn valuable points for her Championship.  The only good thing to come out of the race was that Leanne re-set the Formula 3 lap record on her charge back through the field.


Leanne now sits in 2nd in the championship, but 18 points behind leader Nathan Caratti.  With only 3 rounds to go it will be a tough job to get back within striking distance but Leanne never gives up without a fight.


Past Articles
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