Hundredth birthdays don't come around too often but, as a remarkable achievement, the 'big 100' is always a landmark worth celebrating in style.

Whilst it is unlikely that a letter from the Queen will be forthcoming, the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula Three Championship will nevertheless celebrate its 100th race when the series turns out at Eastern Creek in a week's time.

Things have progressed rapidly since the series first took to the track at Adelaide's Mallala Raceway in May 1999, evolving to become the premier open wheel category in the country and compete for the prestigious Australian Drivers' Championship and the CAMS Gold Star award.

Australian F3's first ever race was won by Paul Stephenson, who took out a ten-lap encounter at Mallala ahead of Bronte Rundle - who now heads up Team BRM. Well known open-wheel competitor Chas Jacobsen completed a competitive top three, all podium finishers driving Dallara F396s.

The competition at the front of the field, however, has reached a whole new level this year, with frenetic action being seen at the four rounds held to date. Leading the charge is West Australian Aaron Caratti, who heads to Eastern Creek with a comfortable 23-point buffer over season-long rival Michael Trimble. Caratti - driving for David Borg's newly christened Insight F3 team - won the most recent round at Queensland Raceway and leapt to the top of the standings, the first clear points leader the championship has had this season.

Caratti's four race wins have been coupled with four poles and three third place finishes, but his advantage was as much because Team BRM's Trimble endured a disastrous run at Queensland, failing to finish the second race after the Speiss engine powering his Dallara F304 failed with two laps remaining. The young Victorian had been toe-to-toe with Caratti for a majority of the season and will be looking to follow on BRM's 2004 success at Eastern Creek - eventual champion Karl Reindler dominated the meeting - to haul the points gap back.

Finding some of his early season form at the fourth round was Chris Alajajian, now with experienced racing outfit Protecnica Racing preparing his Jack Hillerman's Smash Dallara F304-Renault. After struggling for pace and reliability at the third round, Alajajian's form in Queensland came as a welcome relief for the aggressive youngster. Expect the Protecnica team to be right on top of set-up and preparation at what will be their home round of the series.

Amongst an expanded entry for the Sydney round include Benchmark Motorsports Matt Sofi, who made his F3 debut at the series' opening round at Wakefield Park this year. Piccola Scuderia's Canadian import Cody Liebel will also return after sitting out the last round. Liebel has plenty of laps around the Piccola team's home circuit, and is set to show more constant improvement in his distinctive red Dallara F301.

Stephen Borness will make his F3 debut at Eastern Creek, the Carrera Cup regular driving David Choon's Dallara F396, while rookie Lauren Gray will return for her second bite at the Kumho Tyres Trophy Class after impressing on debut at Queensland Raceway. Gray showed constant improvement over the course of the round, and will be looking to challenge for outright Trophy honours in her Scud Racing-prepared Dallara F396.