The first fully international team to join the ranks of F3 racing in Australia full-time has completed the first day of a two-day test at Mallala Raceway in preparation for its debut in the series this year.
The Philippines-based team recently confirmed its intention to run a two-car team in this year's Australian championship after racing in the non-championship support races at the Australian Grand Prix in 2007. Currently the reigning Asian F3 champions, Goddard tested promising Japanese driver Sho Hanawa at Mallala utilising a leased Team BRM Dallara-Mercedes F307 after two members of the operation – along with owner Mark Goddard – travelled to Australia earlier this week.
The 19-year old Hanawa completed several runs at the 2.6km circuit and lapped competitively as team and driver came to grips with the warm Australian conditions. With a top temperature of nearly 30 degrees, Mallala was a full 28 degrees warmer than Tokyo had been when the teenager left his homeland earlier in the week.
Hanawa has previous open-wheel experience in the British Formula Renault and Formula Renault Winter Cup series, and will continue to test with Team Goddard in Australia until the weekend, completing a second day at Mallala.
“It's great to be here," Goddard admitted, "We have been looking forward to coming back to race in Australia since Melbourne ([in 2007, which was a very good experience. Everyone has been extremely helpful, which makes it very easy for us to come here and compete. It's a different experience for us being an Asian team but, hopefully, we can bring some new drivers to Australian F3 and be competitive.
“As the reigning Asian champions, we hope to be quick and add the Australian title to our trophy cabinet, but we're under no illusions that it will be an easy year. The Australian championship is very competitive and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Hanawa's best lap time – unofficially in the low 1min 04secs bracket – compares favourably to the qualifying pace shown by the F307 cars at Mallala last year, and Goddard was pleased with the young driver's performance on his first look at the tricky layout.
“Sho did a very good job today,” he said, “We were told that, if he could get into the 04s, it would be a good start. He got there quite quickly, so we are now looking to go quicker than that during the remainder of our time here.
“It bodes well for the championship should Sho decide to race with us. We know it will be competitive but, based on today, there is no reason why we can't be towards the front of the grid and be a championship contender.”