Two of the most consistently successful drivers in Kumho Tyres Australian F3 Championship history will both log their 50th race starts during the final round of the 2008 series at Symmons Plains this weekend.
Title contender Leanne Tander will make start number 50 in race one at the Tasmanian circuit, whilst 2007 champion Tim Macrow will return to Scud Racing and his venerable Dallara F301 to contest his 50th race in the Country Club F3 SuperPrix that will end the points-paying season. Ironically, the two drivers went head-to-head for last year's championship as bitter rivals, but are amongst the most statistically successful to have raced in the national F3 series.
In his 48 starts to date, Macrow has won seven races and finished on the podium an incredible 25 times - a strike rate of over 50 per cent. His career record includes his famous last-race win in the 2007 Australian Drivers' Championship, one of the closest in recent memory, but has failed to take off since. Tander's 49 starts, meanwhile, have featured five wins and 20 podium finishes and a record-breaking run to second in the championship last year. After a slow start to the 2008 season, the TanderSport driver lies within one point of overall leader James Winslow ahead of the Tasmanian showdown.
Both will notch up their milestone races whilst aiming for vastly different kinds of results at the weekend. Whilst Tander again shoots for title glory, Macrow will have a far more relaxed weekend enjoying being back behind the wheel of his very first F3 car.
“I guess I didn't realise how many F3 races I had actually started – it's gone so quickly!” Tander admitted, "I'm really glad that F3 is the category I chose to make a full-time return to racing in three years ago. Regardless of whether I win or lose this year's championship in Tasmania, F3 has enabled me to re-establish myself as a consistent and legitimate title contender at the top levels of Australian motorsport.
"It has been fantastic, and has helped me become a better driver. It's helped my understanding of the technical and set-up side of the sport, and I'm a much better all-round driver for the experience.”
Macrow has past experience at the Symmons Plains circuit in the Scud Racing Dallara, having contested the Tasmanian round in 2006 as a privateer entry when he owned the car. As such, he expects to be a contender amongst the 2004-spec cars that will make up the ultra-competitive National Class – a real 'race within a race' – within the F3 field.
“As always, I can't wait to get back in the car and have a go,” he enthused, ”I think we'll struggle to catch the F307 cars out there but, back in 2006, the 301 was as fast as the best of the National Class cars are now so, If we can get in front of them, it should be good. It's all about helping Scud get to the front and I'm really looking forward to the weekend.
”My 50 starts have come up pretty quickly... but it's really crept up on me. It's been a great category and, obviously, the win last season was an absolute career highlight. Next weekend will be about going out and having some fun tough - and I really can't wait!”