Last weekend saw round 3 of the 2017 Australian Formula 3 Premier Series held at Sydney Motorsport Park. After getting only three practice runs in before hand, and one of them being red flagged after 5 minutes, I had had the least practice before a race of any circuit so far this year. However, in qualifying I managed to take my third pole in as many rounds with a lap of 1:23.04!
Starting on the inside of the front row for the first race, I suffered wheelspin off the line, which meant I lost time trying to manage it to regain traction. However, my main title rival John Magro, got a worse start from P2 which was fortunate for me. While I still dropped to third, I managed to move down the inside of turn 6 to take second, and then using the slipstream down the main straight I was able to retake the lead. From hereon in, I managed to gradually extend my lead, and in the end, take the win 17 seconds ahead of John, who had managed to fight his way back into second.
The second race had a similar beginning, except this time, John got a strong start and took an early lead to the race. I managed get back into third by the second corner, and then into second with a move down the inside of the final hairpin on the circuit. This left me with a few seconds’ gap left to catch up to John. Within a couple laps, the gap had closed and I was right on John’s tail. Much like at Mallala, John definitely was not making it easy to overtake, defending as much as he could within the rules. I tried a move around the outside of turn 2, and while I did get a nose in front, John had the inside line and was able to hold the lead. It continued in this fashion right until the last lap, where coming out of the final corner I managed to pull alongside him, unfortunately it was not enough to pass him and we crossed the line side-by-side with only 0.06 seconds separating us.
After reviewing the footage with 2015 champion Jon Collins, who was assisting me with my driving over the weekend, I was given a few pointers on starts. The third race saw a much better start, going side-by-side with John into the first corner. The inside line again proved superior and John held the lead. Much similar to the first race, I was again trying to find a way past John, but then the safety car was called to remove a car from turn 5. We circulated under safety car for 3 laps, leaving only enough time to complete two more laps under green. John managed to get a good jump on the restart, leaving me with a bit of a gap to close up. By the end of the race, I was close enough to pass, but with not enough time left to attempt an overtake.
Overall, with my win, pole and three fastest laps, I was only one point behind John on points for the meeting. It was a great weekend, at an awesome circuit with some very close racing! And as always, a big thanks to Errol, Scott, Callum and Jenny from Gilmour Racing for the most professionally prepared car and all aspects of preparation, and thanks to Jon Collins for the extra driving coaching this event. Thanks to 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, Ballajura Indoor Sports, Fullworks Fire Safety, Inspired Insurance Services Online Logistics Solutions, Signarama Joondalup, David McDonnell, Go Home to Spain Espana, Focused Recruitment, F45 Training Hillarys, Trizone Fitness. and my family for giving me this incredible opportunity. Thanks to the Novotel Parramatta for the brilliant accommodation, and thanks to everyone for following and supporting me over the weekend.
Looking forward to Phillip Island from August 18!