Spectrum sets new lap record at the Island
A new race lap record, a race win and numerous top three placings were the highlights of Spectrum’s weekend in Round 3 of the Australian Formula Ford Championship at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
The weekend kicked off in style for Synergy Motorsport driver Mathew Hart who piloted his Spectrum 014 to the top of the timesheets in both of Friday’s 20-minute practice sessions. Hart’s fastest time of 1m37.7238s was a full four-tenths of a second quicker than the next fastest car.
Rain showers early on Saturday morning were broken by sunshine in time for qualifying which meant drivers were faced with a damp track that would dry as the 20-minute session wore on, making the final minutes critical to posting a fast time as track temperature and grip level increased. Quickest of the Spectrums was Borland Racing’s Shae Davies who qualified fourth fastest ahead of Hart who shared the third row with Scott Andrews in his first race driving the Synergy Motorsport 014, while Rookie of the Year leader Sam Power lined up ninth.
As ever on the high speed, 4.445km circuit, slipstreaming down the long Gardner Straight was of paramount importance. In both qualifying and the race, the low-drag 014 proved visibly quick and easily able to ‘pick up the tow’ from the preceding car at speeds of over 245kph (drivers reached a rapid 252kph with a tailwind).
The opening 10-lap race on Saturday afternoon saw sensational racing throughout the field, most notably for the lead as Hart battled with Jack Le Brocq and Garry Jacobson. The three drivers regularly traded positions in close, high speed combat before Hart emerged the winner by just 0.1114s from Jacobson and broke the circuit’s three-year-old lap record in the process, setting the new mark at 1m37.7119s. Davies worked hard for fifth after holding off a chasing train of competitors which included Andrews and Power in eighth and ninth respectively.
More rain greeted the teams for Sunday morning, although the damp track improved over the following ten laps. The fast-starting Davies launched from fifth to second off the start line while Hart recovered from wheelspin to take the lead before the end of the first lap. Davies and Hart each took turns in the lead, while the greasy conditions clearly suited the web-footed Scott Andrews who drove a very impressive race to finish third just behind Davies, and was unlucky to miss out on fastest lap of the race by a mere 0.0001s!
Dry conditions in Race 3 gave engineers less headaches than the variable track conditions did in Race 2, with Hart this time the best Spectrum driver taking second in a photo finish from Jacobson, while Davies filled fifth. Sam Power was unlucky to be tipped into a spin before receiving contact from another car to retire and concede his lead in the Rookie of the Year standings as a result.
Hart is currently second in the series points standings, only four points adrift of new leader LeBrocq and also leads the Spectrum ‘Driver to USA’ Challenge to win a USF2000 test drive for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.
The next round of the Australian Formula Ford Championship will be at the Sucrogen Townsville 400 on July 7-9, while Spectrum will also be represented in the competitive Victorian Formula Ford Championship at Sandown Raceway on June 16-17.