F3 » 12 August 2008
Winslow defies odds to take Oz F3 points lead.
James Winslow rebounded from the possibility of seeing his Kumho Tyres Australian F3 championship hopes come to a crashing halt with two rounds to go by dominating the penultimate weekend of the season and taking the points lead.
Despite having dominated the previous round at Eastern Creek, the Briton looked set to miss the final two events when his already meagre budget finally ran dry but, having been rescued by a last-minute deal, underlined his title credentials with a fourth win of the season - and his third in as many meetings.
Once again, the reigning Asian Renault V6 champion could have swept the board had it not been for misfortune, but leaves Phillip Island with a one-point lead in the championship and the chance of a third title in as many years.
Finding the budget to compete at the last minute meant that Winslow was unable to take part in the pre-race test, which gave his rivals – who could run all day at the circuit – an early advantage. However, using his natural speed and previous experience at Phillip Island, the Briton leapt to the head of the timesheets in first qualifying, sitting on provisional pole position after just four laps.
Despite holding a three-tenths advantage over the rest of the field, though, Winslow was denied top spot when a blown engine prevented him from responding to improvements elsewhere and he had to settle for third on the grid. Undaunted, however, the Team BRM pilot showed what could have been by blasting to pole in the second session and setting himself up for a strong weekend.
With the track awash, race one started behind the safety car, denying Winslow the chance to make a trademark getaway but, after three laps at controlled pace, he wasted little time in moving to the front, passing team-mate Nathan Caratti for second place before catching and passing polesitter Leanne Tander to assume the lead.
Although Tander attempted to fight back, her enthusiasm eventually led her to spin, allowing Winslow clear passage to victory and the bonus point for fastest lap in what was the 150th race in Australian F3 history.
The track was still wet when race two rolled around, but the Briton made no mistake at the start and pulled out an early advantage before the safety car made an unwanted appearance. Confident in his machinery, however, Winslow again eased away from the field at the restart and appeared on course for a second victory when, putting a wheel on the wet grass under braking for the Honda hairpin, he lost five places, slipping to sixth with just two laps remaining.
Determined to salvage something from the race, Winslow underlined his dominant pace by overtaking no fewer than four of the cars to have passed him while he corrected his mistake, and was right on Tander's tail as the chequered flag fell. Unsurprisingly, the bonus for fastest lap also went to the Briton as he lapped a full second faster than anyone else.
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