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spawny whippet motorsport


Oran Park


11th October 2008

Dallara F398 Formula 3


This was my first race in a Dallara F398 for Robertson Motorsport. The car was an ex-Carlin (UK), ex BRM car still running the Carlin livery. It was to be a long day for the team, who had to run 4 cars in 5 sessions as well as race themselves! Thanks to Rangi Kerr and Paul Hughes for getting up at 4.30am and coming along to assist.


Practice 1

This session was primarily to learn the circuit and shake the cars down. The car was very nervous and twitchy at the rear, particularly going down the hill through the chicane to Shell Corner and through the O'Brien Aluminum Dogleg. Other drivers complained of oversteer there too, so I didn't think too much of it at first. With only 9 laps to learn the car and circuit, my best time was a 0:49.5455, 2 secs off the fastest F3 car.


Qualifying 1


Qualifying 1 was still a matter of learning the circuit and exploring the limits of the car. It still had a lot of snap oversteer and I had to be very careful as I was taking some corners on full opposite lock, with the obvious impact on laptime. I was reasonably happy to have qualified 9th overall with a time of 0:46.1489, which 3rd in class with an improvement of 3 secs and fastest in the team by 2 secs. Sam Dale took pole in his beautiful Reynard 94D F3000 car. The car was already running a lot of rear wing and full soft rear roll bars, so we couldn't do much about the handling. You can see already that the car is sagging in the middle with the nose in the air in this early photo.



Race 1 (8 laps)


The race started well, I overtook the car in front off the line and set about chasing the next guy down. The handling however seemed to deteriorate over the next few laps and on lap 7 of 8, suddenly the rear of the car overtook me as I was about to brake for the chicane. The car span off and strangely, bogged down on the grass, so I retired. When the tow truck arrived after the race, I could hear a strange dragging noise from under the car, so when we arrived at the pit garage, we discovered that the lower engine mount bolts had come loose, sagging the car in the middle and allowing the belly to hit the track, which had caused the handling problems that eventually threw me off the road. The race was won by Sam Dale from pole.



Race 2 (15 laps)


I did not start this race as the team was unable to repair the car in time for the race start. Race won again by Sam Dale, with Glenn Lynch the quickest F3 car.


Race 3 (24 laps)


The car was repaired for race 3 and handled much better than at any other time during the day. I got a reasonable start and passed the car in front again, but after 2 laps the safety car came out for a long period to extract an F3 car from the tyre wall. After several laps of this we were marshalled into the pits to wait. During this time my car's coolant hose came off the radiator and dumped the coolant over the pit lane. This was almost certainly caused by the earlier problems of the engine mounts coming loose, as the hose in question was located by the bulkhead section that came loose. There was insufficient time to re-attach the hose and refill the coolant before the race re-start, so I had to retire again to end a disappointing day.


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