The final round of the Australian Formula 3 Premier Series was one of the most dramatic of the season.
With a number of new drivers entering the series for Round 6 as part of their preparations for next year, there was a field of 19 cars at Wakefield Park in New South Wales, one of the tightest and most difficult circuits for passing, and with the 3rd of 3 races doubling as the Certica City of Goulburn Cup.
Such a large field of cars on this circuit was always going to be a challenge, and this was evident on the Friday practice. However, as always Gilmour Racing had prepared me an amazing car, perfectly balanced, and I was quickest across all runs that I was able to take the track for. We elected to miss two runs where the track was damp (not wet or dry), so not suitable for either dry or wet practice. With fine conditions forecast for the racing over the weekend, there was not much value in taking the track for these sessions.
Qualifying on the Saturday morning was the most challenging of the entire year. Traffic was a huge factor and it was extremely difficult to ensure we had a clear lap. I was able to post a quick lap early on my first flying lap, however managing traffic meant that it was quite a way in to the session before I was able to get another. For a few laps early in the second half of the session, John Magro set a lap which saw him on top of the times. With carefully managed strategy however (including almost stopping completely on the track at one point), I was able to give myself 2 completely clear flying laps at the end of the session. I set a time of 53.8 which was only a tenth outside the outright lap record to take my 6th Pole Position of the Series. This means I achieved a clean sweep of Pole Position in every race, something I am very pleased about.
Race 1 I got off the line with a great start, beating John Magro in to turn 1. In the first half of that lap I already pulled a nice lead, however with a car stalling on the start line, a safety car was quickly deployed bringing the field back together once more. On the restart, John got a run in my slip stream down the straight and made a move in to turn 1. I set myself with a wide entry to attempt a switch back to the inside and it was a good thing I did as John went deep in to turn one locking his front wheels. As a result I successfully made the move to take back the lead and once again started to build a lead. Unfortunately once more there was a safety car bunching the field up, however I restarted well and was able to take the chequered flag to win the race.
Race 2 was Sunday morning with the weather cool but once again fine. Once again I got a good start off the line from Pole, however this time John got away to an even better start off P2. We battled hard all race, but I was unable to find a way past. The race was incredibly exciting, especially considering that over the 15 laps we lapped the entire field other than 3rd place. Time after time John would make a late move to take a lapped car and I would need to make an even later one to ensure that I could continue challenging for the lead.
Unfortunately in Race 3 I stalled off the line, and by the first corner I had dropped to 11th place. With some aggressive driving however, I managed to get through the field in a couple of laps to find myself in 3rd place and only 9 secs off the lead 2 taking around half a second off this per lap. A safety car helped me with around 8 laps of the 18 lap race to run, however unfortunately a lapped car ended up positioning itself between me and the two leaders. On the restart John could control the pace and he went on the last corner. You are not permitted to pass the car in front until the start finish line, and this meant I had to wait behind the lapped car until that point who had made a slower restart to the race. I managed to get myself back on to second place, but once again there was another safety car. I was informed over the radio from my team that John Magro in the lead had been handed a 5 sec penalty for a start infringement, so that meant I just needed to get past second place to win the race.
The restart left us just 2 laps to race, and we all made a good restart. On the last lap I was able to get a good run on Harri Jones in second place and nearly was able to take him with a good move around the outside at turn 1. He was able to defend however, and we finished the race in that order.
As a result, I won the round which was a brilliant way to finish off the season with Gilmour Racing. Errol, Jenny, Scott, Gary, Callum and Matt have been the most amazing and professional team to work with all year. The car that I was given to race all year was perfectly prepared and I am so proud to have won the championship for the whole team.
I would also like to thank my amazing sponsors Rosehill Waters, ES2, High Energy Service, 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 , Walker Wayland, F45 Training Hillarys and Trizone Fitness. Thanks to the Mercure Canberra for putting us up over the weekend.