After qualifying was complete in Adelaide, plenty of people in the F3 Australian Drivers Championship pit area were pretty sure that Tom Tweedie would be on the podium - and sooner rather than later.
The debutant had put his car inside the top four of a competitive grid during the second qualifying session, a sure sign that he would be a frontrunner this year, but those onlookers didn't really expect the aforementioned podium finish to come in his first race.
But that's what happened at the Clipsal 500, as Tweedie raced to third outright in the very first race of his F3 career, on a track he'd never seen before and in his first competitive race start in Australia's fastest category. And, to make matters even better, it happened on the day his team confirmed that new sponsor Battery World would adorn the side pods of his #19 Dallara–Renault.
The 20-year old backed up the initial result with fifth place outright in race two, and left the weekend with two wins in the National Class for 2004-season models. It was quite a debut for a driver with just a few days of pre-season practice under his belt before heading to the demanding, concrete-lined 3.22km Adelaide street circuit, and left Tweedie comfortably atop the National Class standings and part of an elite group that have finished on the podium in a Gold Star race.
“It's an excellent start to my F3 career,” Tweedie said with some understatement, “We could not have expected anything more than this – in fact, we didn't come here with any real expectations at all. It was my first time at Clipsal and my first time racing an F3 car - and we've come out of it with a real positive.
“I have to thank Battery World, which has supported us this weekend – it's great to have them on board - and I also have to thank the Team Tom supporters, who have all been fantastic. The team has also been great and have prepared a very good car, so hats off to them as well.”
Tweedie admitted that the results had exceeded what little expectations he had set prior to the weekend. The Sydney area native held off Championship Class driver Mat Sofi during a twelve-lap dice in race one to score his debut podium while, in race two, he fought an early dice with National Class rival Chris Gilmour before pulling away to win by almost ten seconds.
“I was hoping to mix it with the '07 [Championship Class] cars, but I wasn't sure – I didn't know what to expect,” he grinned, “These cars are obviously very different to the Formula Fords I've been driving before, so it's really pleasing. From here on in, I've been to most of the tracks so that will make things a lot easier. I can't wait for round two.”