The top three contenders in the Kumho tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship remain delicately poised in their battle for the 52nd Australian Drivers Championship following two close qualifying sessions at Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit.
Leanne Tander flew to pole position for the 150th championship F3 race whilst Team BRM driver James Winslow bounced back from an engine failure in qualifying one to score pole for race two.
In the F3 National Class Mathew Radisich scored his and TanderSports first pole positions in the F3 'race within a race' to set the grid for race two, whilst Gilmour edged closer to the class title with a race one pole and bonus championship point.
Times were typically tight all day in dry and cool conditions and it was Tander who jumped to the top in the first session, scoring her fifth pole position of the year and lining her up on top for F3's milestone race. The result – and bonus point – also lifted her to a clear lead in the championship after entering the round tied with Nathan Caratti.
Winslow had held the top spot early but an engine failure after just five laps left him in pit lane and with no answer when first Tander and then team-mate Caratti edged ahead as the session progressed.
”It's great to have pole but obviously it would be nice to have this result tomorrow,” Tander said. ”We know the car is quick here and we've always had good race pace here so it's been a good start. Every point helps, but it's going to be very close tomorrow. Any one of the three can win it (the title).”
After a quick engine change between sessions Winslow made the most of a fresh Mercedes Benz engine in qualifying two to withhold a concerted attack from his team-mate to take the race two pole – the second of his season to date.
Winslow made the use of a clear track to bank his time early whilst Caratti edged closer and closer in the final few minutes of the session to miss out by just 0.0652s, but still ensure Team BRM locked in it's fourth 1–2 qualifying effort of the season.
Winslow's time of 1m26.1626s was just 0.1 quicker than the pole time in the first session but a full second faster than the series managed on their last visit to the Island in June.