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Jun 30, 2015

ELLERY SET FOR RECORD-SETTING SYDNEY DOUBLE DATE

LUKE ELLERY will race into the record books at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend, when he attempts to become the first person to race in the top national Formula Ford and Formula 3 championships in the same weekend.

The experienced Victorian driver will mix his regular Australian Formula Ford Series campaign, where he drives a Spectrum 06b in the ‘Kent’ class, with his Australian Formula 3 Championship debut to come driving a Dallara F311-Mercedes Benz once raced by Williams F1 star, Valtteri Bottas.

While plenty of drivers have raced in both open wheel categories in the same season, it will be the first time that a driver has attempted it at the same event.

It’s set to be a highlight of this weekend’s fourth round of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals that sees six national categories descend on the Western Sydney venue.

The ambitious excersise is being promoted by as a ‘Double Date’ between the two open-wheel categories, which this year both compete full-time on the Shannons Nationals program together for the first time.

The task is set to prove a challenge for Ellery, who will have to adapt to one of the fastest circuits on the ‘wings and slicks’ calendar in his F3 debut.

“I’ve done a lot of preparation and I think there’s going to be about 19 seconds’ difference, per lap, between each car,” Ellery said.

The Formula 3 lap record at the venue is 1m22.62s, while the Kent class Formula Ford benchmark stands at 1m38.91s.

“It’s going to be pretty crazy. I’ll be going straight into Friday practice cold. I’ve only tested a Formula 3 car once several years ago and I’ve never driven this particular car, so it’s going to be a pretty big day on Friday learning the F3 car and swapping between that and the Formula Ford.

“I’ve watched as much of the Formula 3 on board vision as I can and filed that in one part of my brain. I’ve looked at the Formula Ford stuff on different nights to keep them separate and not cross the wires between the two.

“I know how big this is and I’m not taking it for granted – it’s going to be one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.”

As well as focusing on the driving side of the weekend, Ellery also has another ace up his sleeve when it comes to knowing both vehicles he’ll race this weekend.

“On top of all the driver prep, video and laying on my bed with weights on my head to get my neck ready for the G-Forces in the F3 car, I’ve also prepared both cars mechanically,” he explained.

“I’ve gone from doing the gear ratios on the F3 car to getting the Formula Ford ready to go. It’s been a huge undertaking.

“I’m also the truck driver and will cruise up from Melbourne on Thursday so it’s been pretty full on.”

Ellery has lofty ambitions for his Sydney ‘Double Date’, suggesting podiums in both categories are the ultimate target.

“We’re doing it properly and the goal is to be fast in both categories. We’ve had a great season in the Formula Ford and I’m leading the class and I definitely don’t want to upset that program. I want to win every race there.

“If I can get into the top three in the F3 car and get somewhere near the guys who have been at the front all year, It will be very satisfying. I’m not there to make up the numbers.”

Ellery’s Formula 3 car has a strong history, finishing third in the F3 EuroSeries in the hands of now-Williams F1 driver, Valtteri Bottas. The Fin also won the prestigious Masters of F3 at Zandvoort that year and finished 5th in the Macau Grand Prix driving for the famous ART outfit.

The car was later sold to British team Double R Racing where Australian Scott Pye raced it to 10th in the 2011 British F3 International championship, winning one race at Rockingham.

Pye now races for DJR Team Penske in the V8 Supercars Championship.

“It’s all come full circle,” Ellery added. “Scotty was my teammate in Australian Formula Ford in 2009 before we both went overseas – me to America and him to the UK.

“He then drove this car in British F3 before it was brought out to Australia so it’s amazing how it’s all worked out.”

Between the two categories, Ellery will enjoy six practice sessions, two qualifying sessions and six races at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend – a total of more than four and a half hours of on-track time.

The ‘Double Date’ will be supported by Race Fuels, Cable & Comms and Xero this weekend with Luke set to announce a major backer prior to the event.

Round four of the 2015 Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals will include six categories, the pair of open-wheel categories to be joined by the the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Pirelli and Dial Before you Dig Australian Super Six Touring Car Series, plus the PRB Clubman and the opening round of the Australian Superkart Championship this weekend.

Sunday’s racing will be streamed live and free on the internet via Nationals TV.

Tickets start from $15 at the gate on Saturday with more details available at www.thenationals.com.au