April 8, 2012 | General


JAMES WINSLOW HAS extended his winning streak to eight wins from nine races after taking round three of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship at Mount Panorama, whilst Chris Gilmour finished second and now holds the outright Bathurst lap record.

Winslow won both races today but Gilmour’s quickest lap in the race two was 2:04.6187 and a new – official – outright lap record.

In the historic debut of Formula 3 cars on the Mountain, the racing lived up to expectations with plenty of close racing and stunning lap times – but Winslow was again dominant with Gilmour leaving his run too late in today’s feature race.

As such the runaway championship leader now heads the standings by 42 points, nearly a full round clear of Gilmour.

“It’s been an amazing weekend overall and after some early hitches it all came together,” the Briton said.

“After the technical problem earlier in the weekend where we failed the ‘box’ test with the rear wing after contact from another car, we recovered brilliantly and were able to come through and win both races today.

“It’s one of the best tracks I’ve ever driven a Formula 3 car at. It is direct competition to Macau in terms of the kind of challenge it is. Coming down the mountain you need huge commitment over skyline in 5th gear, and it’s flat out.

“We broke the outright lap record here this weekend – I think I was a few thousandths off – so to win the Event and be that close to the record, we’re really happy.

“I’ve got a 42 point lead at this stage is a good start,” he added.

“An unbelievable start and we couldn’t have planned it better. Hopefully I can continue to win races and if I do the championship will look after itself.”

Chris Gilmour finished second, but will be remembered for this weekend’s dramatic second race where he and Winslow traded the fastest ever laps logged on the hallowed 6.213km circuit, the benchmark falling four times with Gilmour eventually holding the new record at the mid-2m04 benchmark.

Despite just missing out on the overall win, Gilmour said he was thrilled to create some history this weekend.

“I can die happy now,” he joked.

“It’s pretty amazing to be here, full stop – but to do something like set the outright lap record that gets talked about so much is pretty special. It requires so much commitment and a great car to do the job here and we had that.

“In the end our car came on a bit too late to tackle James but we’re gaining momentum and looking good going into Darwin.”

Nick Foster took his Money Choice Team BRM Dallara to third after a race-long battle with Gilmour, the Porsche racer enjoying his weekend with a trio of third-placed efforts in just his second F3 event.

Jordan Skinner was unable to back up his race one success, falling victim to the Mount Panorama concrete after spinning out of race two, at turn one, at half-race distance.

In the feature race he and team-mate John Magro made contact coming into Murray’s corner at the end of the first lap, Magro spinning out of the race and Skinner continuing at the rear of the field after a visit to pit lane to fix some underlying damage.

The Forpark Australia F3 National Class was again an open book this weekend, Queenslander Ben Gersekowski becoming the third race winner from three rounds in the F3 ‘race within a race’ for F304 model cars.

Gersekowski headed home the class battle in the BF Racing / Cooltemp Dallara to recover some points after a season-opening incident in the Clipsal 500 that destroyed his original Vics Timber-sponsored car.

He finished fourth outright in today’s feature race despite his car sounding decidedly off thanks to a broken exhaust.

“After the Clipsal incident in race three, and a rough start in Tasmania – to bounce back here is an unreal way to get back on top. Winning here is a massive bonus,” Gersekowski said.

“I was actually running with the championship class guys at the start of the race but on the fourth lap in the car started sounding different. I was speaking to Brett (Francis, team manager) on the radio and was a bit concerned, but he said ‘keep pushing’.

“Both Hayden and Adrian have picked up extremely well. I’ve had to work for it this weekend. It’s really tough and from here it’s a matter of consistency – this weekend has got my confidence back.”

Less than 20 points cover round one winner Hayden Cooper, round two winner Adrian Cottrell and Gersekowski in the Forpark Championship with four rounds to go.

The next round of the F3 Australian Drivers’ Championship will be staged at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway and will feature the second running of the City of Darwin Cup on June 15-17.