This weekend I travelled to Queensland for Round 5 of the Australian Formula 3 Premier Series held at Queensland Raceway. This is the home track for Gilmour Racing, and as such one which I was familiar with through testing and also competing in a pre-series event at the beginning of the year. My lead in the series going in to the event meant that if I secured 26 points from a possible 48 for the weekend I would secure the title with a round still to go in October.
Practice on the Friday went very well, though perhaps through pushing harder than expected early, I damaged the front left tyre in the first run. Even so, times were good and very close to the F3 lap record, so we were pleased with the preparation.
Qualifying Saturday morning was eventful! Track conditions were pretty good, and I managed to set a lap of 1:04.5 to take Pole Position from my team mate and former Australian F3 Champion Chris Gilmour. Pushing for an even quicker final lap, I found the limit around the 200 kph turn 1 and sent the car into a full 360 degree spin on exit! I managed to catch the car and after a brief stall was able to bring it back into the pits for the team to check over with all being OK.
In Race 1, Chris beat me to turn 1 first, but I managed to gain a draft down the back straight to make a move in to turn 3 and take the lead. From there I lead for the 15 laps to win the race giving me 14 points (12 for the win and 1 each for Pole Position and fastest lap). With 12 points then required for the Championship, a win in Race 2 would be enough to secure the title.
The format in Australian F3 is that the top 4 is reversed in starting position for Race 2. Therefore I was off grid position 4. The start was interesting with me getting into turn 1 this time ahead of Chris and then I made a move to take second place around the outside of the fast turn 2. Whilst this worked, it compromised my exit which allowed Chris to draft back past me down the back straight. It took me a few laps from that point, but I was able to make my way through and take the lead to go on to win the race and become the 2017 Australian Formula 3 Champion. I was over the moon about this, but it could not have been possible without Errol and all of the team at Gimour Racing who have provided me with a perfectly prepared car race after race, so it’s not just my win, its ours!
Race 3 was a very exciting race. Once again I got to the first corner first, but then Chris was again able to draft me and take the lead down the back straight into the hard braking turn 3. Over the next few laps we changed lead multiple times, with both of us at times making moves around the outside, or holding on the gain the line for the following corner. Around mid race distance I was able to make a move stick and then hold that through to the chequered flag once again winning the 3rd and final race.
As always, thank you to my sponsors Rosehill Waters, ES2, The Wealth Designers , Truck Dealers Australia , Edith Cowan University (ECU), Kingsway Community Bank Branch, Rvend Vending Machines, Move Homes, 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 and Trizone Fitness. Thanks to the Quest Woolloongabba Apartment Hotel for putting us up over the weekend.
The support I have received from everyone online is also truly amazing and means so much to me.
Over the next few days I expect it will sink in properly (as I get some school tests out of the way!), but it feels amazing to be the 2017 Australian Formula 3 Champion. There is so more than racing on the track that goes into this, and there is a huge amount of work off the track, and so many people that help me with this in so many ways, so thank you to every one of you.
Looking forward to Round 6 at Wakefield Park, another track I am familiar with!