Nathan Caratti edged to the largest margin of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian F3 Championship season after finishing first and second in a competitive, combative and controversial fifth round at Phillip Island, while James Winslow kept up his championship challenge with a second win of the season after again having to switch teams.

Caratti edged out Leanne Tander by less than a tenth to record a thrilling victory in race one, before charging to second in race two from seventh on the grid. Winslow, meanwhile, continued his battle to land the sponsorship necessary to maintain his pressure on Caratti at the top of the table by recovering from being taken out in race one to claim victory second time around.

After getting the best jump off the line, polesitter Tander led into turn one whilst contact set back the hopes of two leading contenders behind her soon after. Neil McFadyen made contact with the rear of Winslow's car at the entry to Honda hairpin on lap four, sending the erstwhile points leader spiralling down the order and leaving Winslow's Team BRM Dallara beached in the mud.

The safety car was called to the circuit for two laps, with Tander leading to the green flag on lap seven - only to be passed by Caratti on the restart. After repassing her rival, the pair waged war for the next few laps, regularly swapping the lead in an intense dice for the lead, before Caratti finally slipped past four laps from home and withheld a concerted attack to the line to win by just 0.0695secs.

"It was great to win, and it was the race I really needed to do well in because we didn't qualify well for race two," Caratti said afterwards, "It was a fantastic race. I had a really great dice with Leanne for most of it - it was very clean and a lot of fun. Our car had great straight-line speed, so I was able to use the tow and get past her. She didn't have so much and, once she was behind me, didn't have as good a chance at getting by. It's a great win and very important for the championship."

Stuart Kostera scored Scud Racing's first podium finish of the season with a drive to third place, whilst Mat Sofi slashed the five-year old lap record in his charge though the field from the lower half of the top ten, eventually finishing fourth.

Race two featured more dramatics with an incident on a restart throwing the results into confusion.

Winslow made the best start from pole and led the field into turn two, but had to face concerted pressure from both Tander and a flying Kostera. However, a safety car, called on the opening lap due to a stranded car at turn one, again bunched the field up - and it was on the restart where the controversy occurred.

Running close behind Winslow, Tander and Kostera were both penalised for overlapping after they split the Briton on the run to the line. Both later claimed a hesitation in Winslow's progress, but were black-flagged at the time and given a drive-through penalty.

Winslow then held off Caratti for the remainder of the race to record a 1-2 for Team BRM, whilst Sofi battled with a recovering McFadyen - who had run off the circuit on the opening lap - for third place, overcoming the Piccola driver by just a few thousandths of a second to record his first career F3 podium. Tander recovered to sixth position after a comeback drive and reset the lap record in the process,leaving the new benchmark at 1min 26.9031secs.

After the expected protest, results from the race remain provisional whilst the restart incident is investigated, with a stewards' hearing to be conducted at the forthcoming Eastern Creek round.

In the National Class, the battle between series leader Chris Gilmour and chaser Lee Farrell reached a new level of intensity thanks to a stunning battle in race one. After early leader Justin Tate suffered a massive engine failure towards the end of the race, Gilmour and Farrell went side-by-side to the line in a race decided in the Irishman's favour by a staggering 0.0051secs.

It was Farrell's first win since the Clipsal 500 Adelaide earlier this year, and helped close the margin to Gilmour in the race for the $40,000 prize on offer.

In race two, however, the tables were turned with Gilmour winning and setting the class' fastest lap to continue his dominant run this season. TanderSport driver Mathew Radisich completed a great return to the championship after his involvement in the Oran Park crash three rounds ago with a pair of thirds.

The Trophy Class provided a weekend to remember for Jesse Wakeman, the R-Tek driver recording his first double win in his rookie season. Wakeman finished ninth outright in race one and eleventh outright in the second, drastically closing the gap to class leader Andrew Mill in the process after Mill was forced to the sidelines before the first race due to mechanical dramas.

Caratti now leads the championship by 18 points with three rounds - six races - remaining on the schedule this season. Caratti's triumph was the 80th championship race win the Adelaide-based BRM outfit. The next round takes place at Eastern Creek Raceway between 11-13 July.


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