This weekend I participated in my second Formula 3 race meeting, the 2017 Ipswich Festival of Cars, at Queensland Raceway. The team and I entered this event for some important final preparation prior to the start of the Australian Formula 3 Premier Series. It was also my first ever time driving the Gilmour Racing number 1 car, the Dallara F311
The main differences between the F311 and the F307 cars of Gilmour Racing, are that the F311 car has an upgraded aero package – meaning higher cornering speeds and increased g-forces; and it is much more physical to drive – the steering is very heavy and the extra g-forces add to the physicality. Friday was the practice day, and we hit the track in the afternoon for 4 really good long runs where I really got the feel of these differences. The g-forces are incredible and it certainly was a good workout!
On Saturday I qualified on pole and thus started the first race from pole position. Unlike all other races this year, this event was operated with rolling starts instead of standing starts.
The first two races were both very similar, holding the lead through the first corner and pulling away after that to pretty comfortable wins.
The third race, however, was a little more eventful – and not in a good way. The radio which we have to have fitted in order for race control to communicate with us whilst on track came loose and ended up with my pedals, and was interfering with my pedal control. There was one point where the radio got stuck under my heel and I was unable to fully lift the throttle. After this, I deemed it to be unsafe to drive with, and pulled into the pits to have it removed. However, the pit stop cost me more than a minute and very nearly sent me a lap down. With the short time remaining in the race, I could only manage to drag myself back up into eighth position.
In the fourth race, following the mishaps in the third race, I had to start four rows back in eighth. Having to fight through the field, it took me three laps to get back up to the leading two cars; and before the end of the next lap, I had managed to overtake the two of them! From here, it was not dissimilar from the first two races – gradually pulling away.
In the fifth and final race, I returned to the front row for the start. After diving into the first corner with a little slide, I managed to, once again, extend my lead throughout the course of the race.
The four wins across the day gave me enough points to take the win for the event. It was a fantastic preparation for Round 1 of the Australian F3 Premier Series back in Queensland at Morgan Park May 19 – 21. Thanks to Errol, Scott, Matt and Jenny from Gilmour Racing and to my sponsors ES2, Truck Dealers Australia, Edith Cowan University (ECU), The Wealth Designers, Kingsway Community Bank Branch, Inspired Insurance Services, Ballajura Indoor Sports, Impressions The Home Builder, Grand Toyota Wangara, Rvend Vending Machines, Fullworks Fire Safety, Signarama Joondalup, Online Logistics Solutions, David McDonnell, Focused Recruitment, F45 Training Hillarys, Trizone Fitness and Donna and Mark from Annerley Motor Inn for the accommodation during the event.
Feeling ready for Round 1!