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Tander sets early pace at Phillip Island.

The three contenders that remain in the hunt for the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship for the CAMS Gold Star finished first, second and third in the two practice sessions held at Phillip Island ahead of the latest rounds of the season this weekend.

In dry conditions best described as 'brisk', Tander topped series co-leader Nathan Caratti by 0.15s and James Winslow by just 0.18s in practice one and by similarly small margins in the second to get her round off to a good start.

In the chilly conditions Tander's best lap of the day was 1m 27.0250s, some two-tenths quicker than the best pole position time set at the 4.6km circuit when the series last visited in June.

The two Team BRM cars of Caratti and Winslow were second and third, respectively, in both sessions as the trio get set for the next two races that will decide the winner of the 2008 title. Eight points currently separate the three drivers with 88 still available.

”It was a pretty good day,” Tander said. “It was trouble free but it's only practice and doesn't count for very much. There's not much in it which is exactly what I expected.”

After his recent move to Astuti motorsport, Mat Sofi placed fourth in practice one and fifth in the second, though the #2 Total Developments driver was less than six-tenths from the pace in both sessions.

In just his third-ever F3 round, North Queensland driver John Magro was a stunning fourth in the second session less than three tenths from the top spot behind the wheel of his Rockstar Energy / Unit Clothing Team BRM Dallara.

In the F3 National Class leader Chris Gilmour was comfortably fastest, a full second quicker than rival Lee Farrell in the first session, though the battle will really begin tomorrow when points are on the line.

Queenslander Gilmour needs to score just one more point that Farrell this weekend in order to clinch the class and the $40,000 cash prize that goes with it.

2008 F3 Trophy Class champion Andrew Mill was fastest in both sessions today and continued his recent form of niggling at the National Class runners.

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