The entire complexion of the 2009 F3 Australian Drivers' Championship changed within the space of about ten seconds at Phillip Island as points leader Joey Foster undid his earlier good work and allowed main rival Tim Macrow to capitalise.
Heading into the grand prix layout's southern loop on the first lap of race two, race one winner Foster slammed into the back of Mat Sofi, putting the Briton out of the race and leaving his victim at the back of the field and one lap behind. With Foster sidelined, Macrow streaked, untouched, to his second win of the season and scythed the championship lead in half as the fight for the Gold Star approaches its halfway point.
Macrow had earlier finished a safe second, behind Foster, in a wet opening race and, coupled with two bonus points for qualifying and the quickest lap in race two, now sits just 18 points adrift of the Briton as the series takes a five-week break before round four at Winton. Macrow's ninth F3 win also lifted him to fifth on the all-time winners list for the Australian series, while his two podiums see him leave Phillip Island with more top three race results than any other driver.
“I have to say that I wasn't hugely disappointed when I saw Joey's car in the sand trap after one lap of race two,” he joked, “The car was very good this weekend. The team has done a great job and, in the dry, the car was sensational. We made a wrong call in the wet, but made up for that in the dry race.
“It's been a really, really good weekend overall and we've closed the championship gap. We have made a step forward with the car and it's getting better and better, and more suited to my driving style. This weekend has put us in a very good place for Winton in June.”
Foster, meanwhile, was pleased with his dominating, 20-second race one victory, but said that his race two exit was the result of a simple misjudgement, though his handy championship buffer prior to the round softened the blow to his series' lead.
“The car was fantastic in race one and it was good to get the win," he admitted, "We needed those points with what happened in race two, but we still have a good lead so I'm looking forward to Winton.”
Foster took the lead during the opening lap of race one after making a slow start, but was never headed after that, dominating the race seemingly at ease to record a crushing win. Race two was much more competitive, with Macrow shaded by a pair of TanderSport cars after the opening lap dramas eliminated Sofi and Foster from the running.
Ben Crighton duly scored a career-best result with second in race two, finishing just two seconds behind Macrow, whilst AmPro Tools driver Sofi recovered to claim third-place honours among the Championship Class cars in both races to remain well in contention in the standings.
The National Class, meanwhile, belonged to returnee Leanne Tander, who took a perfect score away from the weekend by winning the class in both races, as well as scoring two pole positions and two fastest laps. Tom Tweedie consolidated his class lead by finishing second in race two.