This weekend was the fourth round of the 2017 Australian Formula 3 Premier Series at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
Having never raced here, I was eager to get out on track and have a look at what it had to offer, and it’s easy to say that this is the best circuit I have raced on by far! The fast, flowing nature of the circuit, combined with its cambered corners and elevation changes make it extremely quick, a top speed of 245kph, and an average lap speed of 190!
Coming into Lukey Heights is an incredible experience, entering the corner at 220kph and feeling the car flow through the corner, first uphill, and then the car gets light as you go over the crest, often having to catch a little moment of oversteer. And there’s no time to relax afterwards, because as soon as you come out you’re braking for the slowest point on the track, and then for the long, fast, high-gforce section of turns 11 and 12, which lead you on to the start/finish straight where you reach the highest speed on the F3 calendar.
The first practice gave me some good experience in wet conditions, my first proper session in an F3 on a wet track. The second practice was much drier and allowed me to get my first taste of the truly fast nature of the circuit.
Qualifying started off dry, and the tyres were just starting to get some temperature into them when the heavens opened and rain hit the circuit. I managed to get a few semi-quick laps in the drizzle before the track became undrivable on slicks, and so I returned to the pits a couple minutes earlier than the end of the session. I did, however, manage to take pole position to make it four out of four so far this year! This is also my tenth pole position in a row if you include the last six straight in the WA Formula Ford Championship last year.
Due to overnight rain, the circuit was wet for race one, adding in that extra challenge for Sunday morning. After Denny got the better start on the outside row, I was following behind into turn one, all of us guessing how much grip we had. Into turn two I made a move down the inside before the rear of the car stepped out a bit and I drifted to the outside of the track before regaining grip and holding the lead. From hereon in, I proceeded to extend my lead and at the end of the nine-lap event took the flag with a comfortable margin.
The second race, run with a reverse-top-four grid, saw me starting from the fourth grid spot. With the top three all fighting for the same piece of track in turn two, I hung back, and sure enough, one of them was left with poor exit speed, and I made my way into third. I was half a lap later, coming over the crest at Lukey Heights that I made the move under braking for second place, and then followed it up with a move into the lead by making use of the tow down the start/finish straight. I managed to extend my lead over the remaining laps of the race, and took the checkered flag in first place after a shortened race due to multiple cars stopped on the edge of the circuit.
The third and final race saw me starting from pole again, and I got away to a good start to hold my lead off the line. Reminiscent of the previous two races, I extended my lead and managed to hold it for the twelve-lap duration to conclude a successful weekend with a clean sweep!
As always, a massive thanks to everyone at Gilmour Racing for the incredible car, my sponsors for their ongoing support – Rosehill Waters, 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. Thanks to my family for always being supportive of my racing, and thanks to all who followed me over the weekend!