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Oz: Foster pips Macrow in Clipsal pole thriller

19 March 2009

Joey Foster and Tim Macrow waged a stunning war for the race one pole position as action in the Australian Formula 3 Championship got underway at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide today (Thursday).

In something akin to a western-style gunfight, the pair left their charge for the top spot until after the session itself had finished to decide the grid for Saturday's opening twelve-lap encounter that will kick off the new Gold Star year, in front of a crowd of more than 40,000.

After trading best sector times and shading Foster all session, Macrow pumped out a 1m18.645s lap after the flag had fallen – only for his rival to usurp him just seconds later.

Foster's 1m18.383s lap was the fastest ever around the Clipsal 500 circuit, and promptly gave him his first F3ADC pole position, in addition to a $200 AUD bonus thanks to sponsor Yorkshire Investments.

“That was everything I was hoping for, but Tim didn't make it easy,” Cornwall-born Foster acknowledged afterwards. “The lap was right on the limit – to the extent that I was basically brushing the walls! We were pleased to be fastest in practice as it gives you an indication of where you are in the field, but we didn't know how it (the car) would react on new tyres.

“I knew that we would have to pull something special, and that was fantastic! I'm really pleased. This place is fantastic; it's an amazing feeling to let the car move and drift around here.”

Macrow, for his part, admitted that he was pleased with the outcome given the lack of time to prepare for this weekends' race – he was only confirmed in the #25 Scud Racing entry three days ago.

“We're still getting the car better,” the Melbourne native confessed. “It was a good session overall. I didn't have any lap timing on my dashboard so it was hard to tell what I was doing, but the car went pretty well.

“The team is working really well together, and we'll make some changes to the car for tomorrow and go quicker. I'm stoked to be here – this track is amazing!”

Mathew Sofi took his new AmPro Tools-sponsored Dallara to third place, one spot ahead of Team BRM/HT Leads driver Mathew Radisich.

Meanwhile, Chris Gilmour set the National Class pace and was also particularly close to the outright cars, logging a personal and class-best 1m19.941s lap to wind up three tenths clear of F3 rookie Tom Tweedie in fifth and sixth respectively.

“The car is awesome, I'm really relaxed and it all seems to be going very well,” Gilmour enthused. “Hopefully I can tack onto the back of the '07s in the races. I know I can get them off the line, so then I'll be on it as hard as I can!”

Tweedie was second in class, just half a second behind Gilmour. Local ace Jesse Wakeman, by contrast, endured a horrible day, with electrical problems curtailing his practice session after just one lap and a subsequent gearbox drama slowing his qualifying charge.

Earlier in practice, whilst Foster and Macrow had again set the pace, one potential championship contender had found the early Clipsal going decidedly not to his liking. TanderSport driver Ben Crighton, from New Zealand, gained the unenviable record of being the first competitor to make contact with the unforgiving Clipsal 500 walls, taking a front-right corner off his Dallara F307 at turn eleven in practice one.

“It was just a matter of too hot on cold tyres and cold brakes,” the seventh-placed man rued. “There wasn't much in it, and it wasn't a hard hit – but it was enough to take a corner off and do some damage. It's a shame, because all I really wanted was laps and experience. The goal for the rest of the weekend is laps. It's very disappointing.”

Top Ten Race One Qualifying Times:

1. Joey Foster Team BRM
2. Tim Macrow Scud Racing
3. Mat Sofi AmPro Tools/Astuti Motorsport
4. Mathew Radisich Team BRM
5. Chris Gilmour Gilmour Racing
6. Tom Tweedie Team Tom/RALT Australia
7. Ben Crighton TanderSport
8. Graeme Holmes GKH Powdercoating
9. Ray Chamberlain Astuti Motorsport
10. Jesse Wakeman R-Tek F3


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