This past weekend I raced in round two of the 2017 Australian Formula 3 Premier Series at Mallala Motor Sport Park, SA.
Mallala is the second shortest circuit on the calendar, at 2.6 kilometres in length, with lots of camber variations and a mixture of fast kinks and slow hairpins.
In qualifying, I set a lap of 1:02.9 to take pole position by more than a second! This lined me up to start off the first grid position in race one.
With a cambered main straight, it was difficult to get off the line smoothly, and going into turn 1 I was beaten by main rival John Magro and was left in second. When racing close behind another car, it is difficult to get close due to a phenomena known as ‘aero-wash’. Due to downforce being generated from airflow over the front wing, when racing behind another car, this air flow is limited as a result of the drag caused by the car in front – thus reducing front downforce. This means reduced corner speeds, but a straight line advantage as there is less drag coming from my own car. After following John for a couple laps, I noticed that he was getting a better exit than me onto the straight, therefore limiting my chances of making a move into the following hairpin. I knew that my best chance of overtaking was to give myself a run onto the straight, while also limiting his exit speed. To do this, I tried to get a good run on him out of turn 2, and then place my car on the outside on the entry to turn 3 – thus limiting his exit speed onto the straight, and allowing me to perform the undercut manoeuvre. My first attempt was unsuccessful, however two laps later, the second attempt was. I got a better run onto the straight, and I was positioned on the inside for the hairpin, allowing me to take the lead. Two laps later, as a result of Nathan Kumar’s suspension collapsing under braking, the safety car came out. After a few laps of safety car, we were left with two laps to go on the restart. I managed to get a good jump on the restart and pulled away to ultimately take the win, and rewrite the Formula 3 lap record on the final lap!
Race two saw a top-four reverse grid, therefore I started off grid position number 4. Off the line I managed to get into third place, and shortly after – under braking into turn 3 – I got into second. At this point, there was a couple seconds’ gap between me and leader, John Magro. Over the course of the next two laps, I worked to close the gap and was shortly on his tail. After following him for a couple laps, I got a good run out of turn 2. Attempting to recreate the move from the first race, I positioned myself on the outside for turn 3, but as we approached the corner, I was half a car length in front. So I held my car on the outside of the corner and took the lead. From here on in, I extended my lead, until John unfortunately had to retire after losing 3rd gear. During the remainder of the race, I again broke my own lap record for F3s at Mallala and set it at a 1:03.4!
With two wins and two lap records from the two previous races, I was definitely going to try and continue my streak in race 3. However, after a very poor start – I had dropped from first to third by the turn 1. I managed to shortly get back up into second within half a lap, under brakes into turn 3. After another lap, I again found myself right behind the car of John Magro. However, in this race, John made it much more difficult for me to pass – and due to the aero wash, I was struggling to get a good enough run out of any corner to open up a passing opportunity. This continued until, on the last lap, John went a little wide into turn 4. This allowed me to get right up behind him, John defended the inside line, but we were side-by-side going into the final corner. However, as John had defended well, he kept the lead and went on to win the race, with me in second.
I am very pleased to as a result have my first round win in the Australian Formula 3 Premier Series! Thanks to Errol and Callum at Gilmour Racing Formula 3 for the amazing car. Thanks to Scott my Data Engineer for working with me so closely across the weekend. A huge thanks to all my sponsors Rosehill Waters – South Guildford, ES2, The Wealth Designers, Truck Dealers Australia, Edith Cowan University (ECU), Kingsway Community Bank Branch, Rvend Vending Machines, Grand Toyota Wangara, Impressions The Home Builder, Ballajura Indoor Sports, Fullworks Fire Safety, Inspired Insurance Services, Online Logistics Solutions, Signarama Joondalup, David McDonnell, Focused Recruitment, F45 Training Hillarys and Trizone Fitness. I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me online over the week.
Looking forward to Sydney in just under 3 weeks time!