Qualifying has always been a high-stakes, last-minute game of chess that often is just as dramatic as the racing itself, and the 2009 Australian F3 season looks likely to be no different after organisers upped the ante with a new award.
Melbourne-based Yorkshire Investments will sponsor the series' pole award in 2009 and have put their money where their mouth is to spur on even greater qualifying performances this season. As a result, the Yorkshire Investments Pole Award will reward each outright pole position in the 2009 season – and there are sixteen - with a $200 cash bonus, while, at the end of the year, the driver who has recorded the most poles will receive an additional $1000 bonus.
Should two or more drivers score the same number of pole positions during the season, the award will be decided on count-back by comparing each drivers' average qualifying position throughout the season.
Pole positions play an important part in the championship hopes of many drivers and this is reflected in the statistics of the last few seasons. Last year, Leanne Tander was one of five drivers to score top spot in qualifying, and would have pocketed a handy $2000 for her five pole positions, plus the end of year bonus, had the Yorkshire Investment Pole Award been on offer.
In every year since 2002, at least four different drivers have scored a minimum one pole during the year and, since 2000, the record for the most top spots in one season has sat at nine, initially set in 2001 by Peter Hackett and echoed in 2006 by Britain's Ben Clucas.
“There's nothing like cash to spur a driver on to go that little bit faster,” AmPro tools driver Mathew Sofi said, “As someone who hopes to regularly be challenging for pole positions this season, I'm really happy that Yorkshire Investments has come on board to sponsor the award. It will only spice up qualifying even more and make Saturday just as exciting as race day. I'm looking forward to trying to get the first $400 with two pole positions at the Clipsal 500 this week!”