The return of international specification ‘wings and slicks’ open wheelers to Mount Panorama for the first time in over thirty years will ensure the Bathurst Motor Festival will receive international exposure next year, with overseas drivers already plotting to tackle the Mountain.
Formula 3 Management has received several enquiries from international drivers keen to experience the mystique of Bathurst in a Formula 3 car – though the series already has significant international influence.
The current championship leader (James Winslow) and four of the last five Australian Formula 3 championship winners are from the United Kingdom and drivers from six different nations have competed in the last three seasons.
The Event will form part of the 2012 Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship and is set to be a marquee race for the category’s continuing efforts to grow and develop locally. As part of the Bathurst Motor Festival, Formula 3 cars will contest three, 10-lap races totalling nearly 180 competitive kilometres of racing across the April 6-8 Event next year.
Series officials and Event management expect a grid of at least 20 cars to compete with initial interest already strong.
“We are very pleased to have Formula 3 make their debut at Mount Panorama as part of the Bathurst Motor Festival,” Event Director James O’Brien said.
“The Bathurst Motor Festival is about catering to all types of motorsport, from club level regulation categories to top National Championships, and Formula 3’s participation in the Event will push that further with an international flavour.”
Current Formula 3 Team Owners and drivers have embraced the addition of a Bathurst Event to the schedule.
“I have already received interest from enough drivers to fill all four of our cars,” Mark Rundle, the team manager of defending F3 champions Team BRM, said.
“A lot of the interest has come from Asia and Europe. The Bathurst brand is known worldwide and the opportunity for people to race a Formula 3 car there will be too big for some to pass up. Bathurst is one of the world’s most famous circuits so to be able to race it – and potentially win there – in a globally recognised category like F3 is very appealing to drivers.
"I think I speak for all of the team owners and drivers in saying that this is a massive step for Formula 3 and we’re all working hard together to embrace it.”
Current championship leader James Winslow has suggested the long term future and international appeal of Formula 3 cars at Bathurst could be significant.
“It is going to be incredible and I’ll do everything I can to make sure I’m on the grid,” Winslow said.
“There is a real opportunity for this to become a major annual Event for Australian Formula 3 which will only be good for the category.
“I have raced at home in Europe and in the USA and everyone knows about Bathurst. It’s one of those great circuits everyone wants to have a go at one day. To do it in an F3 car, which I think are about the best racing cars in the world, will be incredible.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge and produce very exciting racing.”
Commercial plans are currently being generated for the Event whilst Formula 3 Management will announce further plans and eligibility criteria for entrants in coming weeks.
The 2012 Bathurst Motor Festival will be held on April 6-8 and will include a mixture of national level categories and state based competition offering something for everyone.
ABOUT FORMULA 3
Formula 3 is a global formula and recognised as one of the premier development categories on the development path towards Formula One. Current Australian F1 drivers Mark Webber and Dan Ricciardo – as well as approximately 90% of the current F1 grid – all raced Formula 3 at some stage in their careers.
In Australia, former top local drivers include IndyCar driver Will Power, current V8 Supercar stars Karl Reindler and Michael Caruso, and GP3 racer Mitch Evans.
F3 cars weigh 540kg, are powered by 230hp, four-cylinder, two-litre engines and produce significant downforce and grip thanks to big wings and slick Kumho control tyres.
The category features the Italian-built Dallara Chassis and French-built Mygales, and engines from manufacturers like Mercedes Benz, Renault, Spiess Opel and Mugen Honda.