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Sunday, 31 March 2013

Morcom stars in F3 Championship opener!

Nathan Morcom and the placegetters celebrate on the podium after his dominant race 2 win. [speedshots.com.au photo] Nathan Morcom and the placegetters celebrate on the podium after his dominant race 2 win. [speedshots.com.au photo] speedshots.com.au

A record-shattering pole position and a dominant race win at Mt Panorama have given Nathan Morcom a flying start in the Australian Formula 3 Drivers' Championship.

In Saturday morning’s qualifying session, the 20 year-old Sydnesider claimed the prime starting position for the first of two races with a sensational 2min 03.2396sec. lap, at an average speed of 181.5km/h. It was the fastest ever officially recorded lap around the legendary 6.213km public road circuit on the outskirts of Bathurst, in western NSW.

 

(Jenson Button and Craig Lowndes drove sub-2 minute laps in a McLaren Formula 1 car in 2011, but their times weren’t recognised officially because it was a demonstration run and not a race meeting.)

 

As it was, Nathan’s time sliced a massive 1.3791 seconds from the previous mark, set in 2012 by Queenslander Chris Gilmour. However, Gilmour’s outright lap record stands because Nathan’s time wasn’t set during a race.

 

Unfortunately a startline gear selection problem prevented Nathan from capitalising on his pole position in Saturday afternoon’s first race, and he was engulfed by the leading pack. Before he could claw his way through the field, Queenslander driver Hayden Cooper crashed at The Dipper on the third lap, bringing out the Safety Car.

 

By the time Cooper’s damaged car had been removed, there was only time for a one-lap dash to the chequered flag. Nathan gained one position after fellow R-Tek Motorsport driver Steel Guiliana was forced off the track by reigning Australian Formula 3 Champion James Winslow at the restart.

 

But he found himself in a similar situation when Queenslander Ben Gersekowski elbowed him onto the grass verge in a braking duel at The Chase. The race stewards subsequently disqualified Gersekowski for his actions, elevating Nathan to fourth place in the amended results.

 

The second race was held on a wet track after a rain shower drenched the circuit as the drivers were preparing for battle. Pole-sitter Jack LeBrocq made an even worse start than Nathan's race one getaway, and Winslow jumped into the early lead from his third starting position.

 

Nathan had a reasonable start from the outside front row slot, and shadowed Winslow around the first lap. He slipstreamed the leader up Mountain Straight, dived around the outside at the off-camber Griffin's Bend, and immediately opened a gap on the field.

 

He was more than six seconds clear when Jon Collins crashed heavily on lap six at Griffin’s Bend, again slowing the field behind the Safety Car. With insufficient time for the track to be cleared within the 30-minute time limit, the race finished under the full-course caution with eight of the 13 laps completed. And because the race failed to reach 75 percent of its scheduled distance, only half points were awarded under the championship rules.

 

After the opening round of the Australian Formula 3 Drivers' Championship, Nathan is second on 21 points, 7.5 behind Winslow. The second round will be held this weekend at the Symmns Plains circuit in central Tasmania.

 

 

NATHAN MORCOM QUOTES

 

Qualifying

“I got caught up with some slower drivers early in the session, but it was a short session so I let them go to get a clear lap. The pole lap was a good one, but on my next lap I was going two tenths faster and then I was held up at The Cutting.”

 

Race 1

“When I lined up on the starting grid I must have pulled the gearshift a bit too hard, and it went from neutral into second instead of first. So I was slow away.

 

“I caught up to Ben Gersekowski, but then the Safety Car came out for Hayden Cooper’s accident. After that, there was only one racing lap left.

 

“We were fighting over third place because James Winslow had pushed Steel Guiliana off the track going up Mountain Straight.  Ben blocked me going up the mountain and over the top, and when I couldn’t dive past him into Forrest’s Elbow I got a tow down Con-Rod Straight.

 

“I was on his outside as we braked for The Chase, but he pushed me out to the edge of the track so I had two wheels on the dirt.  I thought that I wouldn’t be able to make the corner, but somehow I got it back. By the time I got going again, Jack LeBrocq had gone through into fourth.”

 

Race 2

“There was a rain shower just before we went onto the grid. It was fairly light at the bottom part of the circuit, but apparently it was heavier across the top, so the race was declared ‘wet’ and we all changed from slicks to wet weather tyres.

 

“I spent the first lap looking for a place to get past James Winslow. We were both sliding around a fair bit, especially through The Dipper, but my car was a lot faster through the corners. I’ve liked racing in the wet since I was in go-karts, so it didn’t worry me.

 

“At the start of lap two I followed James into Hell Corner, got a tow from him up Mountain Straight, and pulled out to pass him on the outside into Griffin’s Bend.  I was about half a car-length ahead going into the corner, but he gave me racing room, which put me on the inside line for The Cutting. He had a go back at me under brakes but I held him out, and over the top I was able to pull out a gap.

 

"After a few laps I saw in my mirrors that I was about halfway down Con-Rod Straight when the others came out of Forrest’s Elbow, so I tried to maintain that distance.  I could have gone faster, but the conditions were very tricky and you don’t get a second chance to make a mistake at this circuit.

 

“Thanks to Ian Richards and his R-Tek Motorsports crew for a great car, and to my sponsors CSR, Rondo, DPO and Racer Inc. for their support.”

 

 

IAN RICHARDS (R-TEK Motorsport) QUOTES

 

“We already knew Nathan from when he drove one of our cars at the Eastern Creek F3 Championship round in 2010. And we knew the set-up from the data we had from 2012, when James Winslow won in the car that Nathan drove this year.

 

“The only problem we had all weekend was when the gearshift wouldn’t do flat upchanges during Friday practice. It was something in the software – other teams had the same problem – but the electronics wizards soon had it fixed.

 

“Nathan can drive as fast as anyone out there. Our data showed that there was a bit more time left in his pole lap, and he was going faster on his next lap but he got held up.  All in all it was a great performance – almost 10/10.”

 

 

RESULTS*

 

AUSTRALIAN FORMULA 3 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUND 1

 

Race 1 – 8 laps (49.7km)

POS DRIVER (CAR) TIME
1. James Winslow (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 24min. 16.5119sec.
2. John Magro (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 24min. 17.6996sec.
3. Ben Gersekowski (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 24min. 19.2009sedc.
4. Nathan Morcom (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 24min. 20.7358sec.

 


Race 2 – 8 laps (49.7km)

POS DRIVER (CAR) TIME
1. Nathan Morcom (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 25min. 08.4900sec.
2. James Winslow (Dallara F307-Mercedes) 25min. 09.1039sec.
3. Nick Foster (Mygale M08-Mercedes) 25min. 09.7687sec.

 


POINTSCORE AFTER ROUND 1*

1. James Winslow 27.5
2. Nathan Morcom 21.0
3. John Magro 19.0

 

* Subject to official confirmation

 

MT PANORAMA (6.213KM) – BATHURST, NSW

Mount Panorama circuit map traditional corner names 475x475 

 

MORE INFORMATION

CSR website

Rondo website

DPO website

Racer Inc website

 

 

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