After a high-flying, record-busting and showy return to the streets of Adelaide earlier this year, the Australian F3 Championship will return to the Clipsal 500 in support of the season-opening V8 Supercar event next March.
A grid of 24 cars put on a show for the massed crowds in 2008, with two action-packed races providing plenty of thrills and spills on the return of 'slicks and wings' racing to the former home of the Australian Grand Prix.
Highlights, literally, included 16-year old Kiwi Earl Bamber - now racing in the GP2 Asia Series - flying two metres above the Adelaide tarmac after hitting the turn one chicane kerb, before promptly going out to reset the four-year old outright track record to an astounding 1min 18.6011secs. The introduction of new chassis and engines to the championship further spiced up the racing, with plenty of overtaking and on-track action throughout the weekend.
F3's presence at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide also generated international media coverage of the event and series thanks to the participation of several overseas drivers, including race winner Ben Clucas and eventual 2008 series champion James Winslow, while local talents Leanne Tander, Nathan Caratti and Jesse Wakeman also gained plenty of attention.
Only one is likely to return to the F3 races at Clipsal in 2009, however, but Wakeman posted a stunning performance in the final round of the 2008 championship to race – and beat – cars in the higher class. The youngster, who spends his week as a signwriter, has big goals ahead of Clipsal 2009.
”It was absolutely the highlight of my season, even though the results weren't what we were after,” Wakeman said, “To have the chance to race in front of so many people from my home town, and a heap of my family, friends and workmates was a blast. It's something that I will remember for a long time and I can't wait to be back.
“This year, I had only three or four F3 races under my belt, so it was very much a learning experience. Now I have a complete season of knowledge and that is sure to help my performance next year. Nothing would be better than to have the chance to race for the win on the world's best street circuit and in front of my home crowd. That's my aim for next season and I can't wait to be part of F3's return to the Clipsal 500.”
The 2009 Clipsal 500 Adelaide will serve as the opening round of the 53rd running of Australia's highest racing award, the CAMS Australian Drivers Championship for the Gold Star.