Apr 3, 2016
THREE-WAY BATLE SET FOR 2016 FORMULA 3 SEASON
TIM MACROW may have won the opening round of the 2016 Australian Formula 3 Premier Series, but there’s much more to it than that with all the signs pointing to an ultra-competitive fight for this year’s title.
Now batting into his second century (of race starts, not age), Macrow swept to pole position and two of the three available race victories at Sandown at the weekend to take an early lead in his quest for a third Formula 3 title and, perhaps, the first for Dennie Rumble’s Alpine Motor Sport outfit.
However the 32nd and 33rd wins of his career didn’t come easy and there’s plenty of pointers to suggest that this year’s Formula 3 title fight will at the very least be a battle in three – if not four or five.
Macrow's weekend started perfectly by taking the All Properties Group $500 pole award in a wet session before winning two races at one of his favorite tracks.
"It's been a great weekend and it's a great result for Dennie and the Alpine Motor Sport team," Macrow said.
"The racing was really good and there was plenty of pressure from Chris and Roland so it was by no means easy. Our car was a jet but I was driving very hard so the pressure is on and I think it's going to be a very competitive year. There's plenty to play for."
Macrow won races one and three at Sandown while Anthony’s impressive defensive drive in race two allowed him to fend off Macrow and Roland Legge in the best race of the weekend.
"It's good to be back in the series and there was some great racing," Anthony said.
"It was great to get the win in race two and it's a great way to start our season. I didn't quite get the best start in the final race but we pushed hard, got good points and got the year off to a good start. It's going to be competitive and I can't wait for Phillip Island."
Macrow and Anthony swapped placed in the first two sprint races, each grabbing a victory with Macrow converting pole to a win in race one and Anthony coming from third to first to do the job in the second.
Legge and Cameron Shields collided at Turn nine on the opening lap of the first race – both failing to finish – however both bounced back in the second race with Legge third and Shields first in the National class and fourth outright.
Macrow was pushed hard in all three races by McDonald’s Gilmour Racing’s Anthony and, on pace, R-Tek Motorsport’s Roland Legge – to the point where in the second race the trio crossed the line split by 0.8 seconds and all set fastest race laps within a remarkable 0.06s of each other.
In the feature race, Macrow’s near perfect start from pole allowed him to edge away from Anthony in the early laps before the McDonald’s car came on stronger in the closing stages, the Cooma driver – back in Formula 3 after a year overseas – closing to within 0.5 seconds at one point but not quite close enough to attack.
The pair each set their fastest race laps in the second half with Anthony’s fastest (1m07.631s) just 0.05s faster than the leader’s 1m07.67. There really was nothing between them on pace – but on a circuit where straight line performance is everything there was limited opportunity for Anthony to grab a tow from Macrow’s slippery Alpine Dallara.
Meanwhile, a strong debut for Toowoomba young-gun Cameron Shields impressed plenty of observers in his McDonald’s Gilmour Racing F307 by finishing third in the feature race, in front of Trent Shirvington’s Mygale M11.
Shirvington – now in the ex-Hodge 2014 Championship winner – qualified fourth and finished third, fifth and fourth in the three races and sits third in the championship after a strong opener.
Perhaps the best indication of the New South Wales’ drivers improvement came in practice when he lapped within 1s of Macrow, Anthony and Legge.
Nathan Kumar won the National Class on debut thanks to a consistent points haul across the three races, finishing the weekend two points ahead of Shields while Ross McAlpine won the Kumho Cup.