Game changing Spectrums turn up the heat in Queensland
After being dubbed 'the game changer' when released prior to the 2012 Australian Formula Ford Championship, the Spectrum 014 is living up to its title after Round 5 at Queensland Raceway, where Spectrum’s domination was emphasised by a lock-out of race wins, fastest laps and a new lap record at the 3.1km Ipswich circuit.
Synergy Motorsport's Mathew Hart took a well deserved and convincing maiden round victory after winning all three races and leading all but one of the weekend’s 42 racing laps. By doing so, the 2011 Rookie of the Year has cut the gap to series leader Jack Le Brocq from 41 points to just 27 with three rounds still remaining.
Not for the first time in 2012, Hart and Synergy Motorsport hit the ground running from Friday's first practice session by topping the timesheets for the sixth consecutive Friday session. Hart did so with a devastating lap of 1m13.7198s - a full 0.4537s quicker than the opposition and the 17-year old Canberran would be the only driver to lap in the 1m13s bracket all weekend.
Fresh from his superb win in last weekend's round of the US Formula F 1600 Championship Series at Mid-Ohio, Borland Racing Developments' Shae Davies was also competitive and in the thick of battle in all three races. Davies snatched third place from Garry Jacobson at the final corner in Race 1 and fought hard for a pair of fourth places in Races 2 and 3. Davies' strong pace was confirmed by a new lap record of 1m14.2626s - the second AFFC lap record the 014 has set so far this year.
Despite a final corner collision in Race 1, Sam Power recovered well for two sixth places to maintain his lead in the Rookie of the Year standings, while Chairman's Cup state level competitors Matt Campbell, Ash Quiddington, Dylan Richter and Luke Fraser were all welcome additions to the field in a mix of 012 and 011C chassis.
The ongoing development of the new Spectrum 014 and its improvement over the previous 012 model have been clearly demonstrated this season. Of the three circuits which the series has visited in both 2011 and 2012 (Tasmania, Phillip Island, Queensland Raceway), the fastest lap set by an 014 over the course of each race weekend has been an average of 0.6662s quicker than the best time set by an 012 at each circuit in 2011. Conversely, the fastest times set by a Mygale at each circuit in 2012 are only an average 0.2500s quicker than the fastest Mygale times from 2011.
While recent resurfacing of Queensland Raceway can also be attributable to the quicker lap speed, it should be noted that the fastest Spectrum time this weekend was a full 1.0358s quicker than the best Spectrum time in 2011, while the fastest Mygale time was only 0.3935s quicker than the one set last year, proving that chassis and driver development are a more significant factor than the track resurfacing.
While the balance of race wins and pole positions in the AFFC this year have eluded Spectrum to this point - it is important to remember that in other areas - specifically fastest race laps and laps led - Spectrum holds the advantage, proving that the Spectrum is more often the quickest chassis during the races.
Spectrums have set the fastest laps in 10 out of 15 races this year (66.6%), while of the 189 race laps so far in 2012, Spectrums have led 118 (62.4%). Davies’ lap record this weekend is also Spectrum’s tenth lap record of the 15 circuits visited since the introduction of the Duratec engine in 2006. Mygale have three and Van Diemen still hold two meaning that Spectrum holds twice the lap records of all other manufacturers combined.