Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted November 18, 2006 10:00
James Winslow captures 2006 AF3 Championship
After finishing with a string of wins in Sentul, which put him on top of the driver's championship, JA Motorsports' James Winslow further secured the title with a second place finish in Round 16 at the Batangas Racing Circuit. Winslow further cemented his name on the trophy after winning the final two rounds of the final leg in the Philippines.
In qualifying, newcomer Charlie Hollings of Team Goddard who qualified on pole position with a 1m28.078s laptime set on the last few minutes of the session, Speedtech Asia's Tyson Sy was relegated to the second grid spot with Hollings' time three-tenths of a second faster. On second row were driver's championship rivals Aran Racing's Ali Jackson and James Winslow. It is also quite interesting to note that the top four qualifiers were only within half a second apart. For the promotions class, newcomer Swedish driver Philip Forsman of Speedtech Asia set a laptime of 1m31.010s, a second quicker and took the pole from R&W Joson F3's Satrio Hermanto and Gaby Dela Merced of Speedtech Asia.
This weekend also featured the rerun of the postponed Round 15 from Sentul caused by a big accident. At the start it was Aran Racing's Ali Jackson taking the early lead with a fantastic start ahead of polesitter Winslow and Sy. However it would later be adjudged as a jumpstart causing him a one minute penalty. A hard charging Sy, would later find himself past Winslow. Battistini closely followed in fourth, only to fall back later on with gearbox problems.
By this time, Dado Pena advanced to fourth and found himself catching up to the frontrunners. A heated duel up front between Jackson and Sy slowed the pack down allowing Pena to close in further to race wheel-to-wheel with Winslow. Pena made a daring move and took Winslow on turn two in the penultimate lap. On the last lap as Jackson made an early braking move on Brian's corner, Pena took the opportunity and made a quick dive ahead of Sy and Jackson for the lead to the checkered flag. Jackson would later drop to 8th after the penalty upgrading Winslow to third.
In the promotions class, it was Team Goddard's Michele Bumgarner over R&W Team Indonesia DENSO-JF3 driver Satrio Hermanto.
It was a dramatic Round 16 as polesitter Charlie Hollings of Team Goddard fouled up his start dropping himself down to fourth position with Tyson Sy driving away ahead followed by Jackson and Soeprapto. However, Hollings was not to give up so soon, as he went on to challenge Soeprapto. But the latter drove like a wall virtually deflecting all sorts of challenges thrown by Hollings. After seven laps of defending Soeprapto finally gave in, allowing Hollings and Winslow through.
Up in front, Jackson would close in behind Sy to challenge for a well needed win to secure himself of a second place in the championship. However an extremely late braking maneuver by Jackson saw him spearing into Sy's car in turn one of the 9th lap. This caused them both crashing out separately thereafter due to damaged suspension. This allowed Hollings to take the lead with a comfortable one second margin from Winslow. Soeprapto who was currently in third, would find himself challenged by Pena, who would eventually take the last podium spot after a lap.
In the Promotions Class, it was an exciting duel between Speedtech Asia's Philip Forsman, Michele Bumgarner and Satrio Hermanto up in front as the trio ran within a quarter of a second apart. However, midway through the race, a mistake by Bumgarner allowed Forsman to pull away for some reasonable breathing space. As if the bad luck wasn't over, Bumgarner would later lose fourth gear and eventually retire from the race. Hermanto quickly advanced to second as Speedtech Asia's Gaby Dela Merced received a free upgrade to third as she was busy trying to fend off Macanese driver Lei Kit Meng of Team Goddard for most of the race.
As the checked flag dropped, it was Philip Forsman taking the win in his first ever AF3 race for the Promotions Class, followed by Satrio Hermanto and Gaby Dela Merced, who completed the podium.
In Round 17 an excellent start by Winslow blasted him off the start to take the lead into the first corner. Aran Racing's Battistini quickly grabbed second from the slow starting Hollings. Soeprapto and Pena followed behind, unfortunately for Pena, he damaged his front wing in the first corner frenzy and found himself in the gravel pits a few turns after in Brian's corner. A determined Winslow built himself a considerable lead ahead as Battistini found himself hounded by Hollings on the second lap. After much effort fending off Hollings, Battistini finally gave up on the lap 7 allowing the former through.
Battistini would now find himself challenged by Soeprapto who was also busy with Jackson right behind his gearbox. However, Soeprapto found a hole and slid past Battistini who was left to deal with Jackson. Teammates Battistini and Jackson spent lap 8 swapping places as they came across a spinning Soeprapto in lap 10. Jackson would later find a way past Battistini and held on to build a considerable lead for third. Battistini had again Soeprapto to challenge him however the latter failed to pass on the line. At the checkered, it was Winslow far ahead with Hollings in second as Jackson completed the podium.
Forsman, fresh from his debut victory, launched into a good start and the early lead for the Promotions Class. A very much determined Satrio Hermanto however tried to claw his way behind Forsman and eventually found his way past the Swede. Despite starting from the back of the grid, Bumgarner was able to get past Dela Merced and Lei Kit Meng to run in third with a considerable distance, however, the frontrunners were too far ahead already to catch.
Unfortunately for Forsman, officials adjudged his start as too good and slapped him a one minute penalty for the jumpstart. This pushed him all the way to last place in the classification. This put Bumgarner in second and Lei Kit Meng in the final podium spot.
The final order for the seventeeth round, Winslow, Hollings and Jackson for the International Class. While Satrio Hermanto takes the Promotions Class with Bumgarner in second, and Lei Kit Meng in third.
In the final round, Hollings finally made a fantastic start leading into the first corner, however, polesitter Winslow found a way past as Hollings ran wide on the exit. Hollings then gave Winslow a run for his money as he relentless followed the race leader for the whole race until the penultimate lap where his gearbox got stuck in fourth and he was sent spinning into turn one. Hollings fell into fourth position in the process, allowing Sy and Battistini through. A very unfortunately mistake for Jackson as he fouled up his start and ended at the back, virtually handing the second championship place to Sy.
Dado Pena blew his engine on the 7th lap, for an early reitrement from the race. Bagoes Hermanto retired shortly after, on the 10th lap after a weekend of misfortune.
Taking the win for the Promotions Class was Satrio Hermanto who was far ahead of the rest, just a couple of seconds behind the International Class runners. Bumgarner had a good duel with Forsman for second, until the former made a mistake on the exit of turn one and spun out into the grass handing over second to Forsman. Lei Kit Meng had a free trip to the podium with Bumgarner's retirement from the race.
The final order for the eighteenth round was, Winslow, Sy and Battistini for the International Class. While Satrio Hermanto takes the Promotions Class with Philip Forsman in second, as Lei Kit Meng finished third.
Race officials later declared AF3 rookie Walter Grubmuller disqualified due to a technical infraction after scrutineers found a 'flat shifting' mechanism in his car.