Round 3 of the Queensland Formula Ford Series saw a few missing faces, but still had the promise of some very tough racing on a very cool weekend. Very cool for us Northerners anyway.
Mitch Maddren, following on from his form at the last round at QR, surprised no one with pole position, but his 1:21.9 was 2 seconds faster than the time he qualified with when we were here earlier in the year. That was a surprise! Harri Jones was a full second behind, with Tom Corbett posting a 1.23.1, James Corbett, really struggling with grip posted a 1.23.7 between off track excursions. Karla Curtis was the other big improver over her previous showing at this venue, posting a time 3 hundredths behind James, but only six hundredths ahead of Dylan Fahey. A very close group with Karla looking like she was on a mission in her Paul Morris owned RF91. Tony Chapman posted a 1.24.6 just ahead of Ryan Campbell's 1.24.9.
Dave Boulton was a little frustrated with his 1.26.4.
Race One would be 12 laps of the 3 km circuit giving everyone a decent late afternoon workout over the bumps. Morgan Park is a physically demanding track for sure.
Maddren, Jones and Tom Corbett running line astern early opened a small gap back to James Corbett who had Dylan Fahey all over him.
Behind them Curtis had an ordinary start and dropped behind Chapman and Campbell; the three of them having a really good battle with Curtis getting by Campbell fairly early.
Maddren was able to slowly edge away from Jones who had Corbett junior right on him until his car developed a serious engine misfire leaving him to fall back to James Corbett and Dylan Fahey. Fahey had bested James for a few laps before the positions were reversed again by the time they caught the ailing green Van Diemen of Tom Corbett. It took Fahey longer to clear Tom and James was able to open an insurmountable gap over him.
Meanwhile the Curtis-Chapman battle of the early nineties Van Diemens was resolved when Karla's 91 collided with the rear of Tony's 92 model. Tony was able to continue a lap down, but Karla drove into the pits ahead of a trail of sparks to retire. Campbell was also out after something vital fell off.
Boulton was able to pass the spluttering Tom Corbett car for fifth.
Race Two was shortened to 8 laps, and would commence with the, dreaded by some, rolling start.
Maddren and Jones once again led the way from James Corbett and Tom Corbett. Fahey had gotten a good initial jump at the start but got the rougher end of things, in the 'crowding with the wrong crowd ' at Turns 1 and 2. After that he was fending off Chapman, Curtis and Campbell. Boulton starting from fifth had added to the drama by spinning off on the inside while Fahey was being hung out wide.
Up front Jones was sticking to Maddren this time as they both edged away from James Corbett. James made it pretty easy for Tom to get past and he set off in pursuit of the front two, almost catching them by the end, and ruing the shortened race.
Jones had tried a couple of moves but nothing that the experienced karter Maddren looked too worried by.
James Corbett had a lonely race behind them finishing well clear of Fahey, a little ahead of a close battling Curtis and Chapman, and Campbell after a big spin through the fast sweeper. It gets everyone sooner or later.
Boulton followed him home. Curtis and Chapman both put in cracker laps on lap 7: a 1:23.1 and 1:23.2 respectively. The front three, Maddren, Jones and Corbett all had fastest laps within one tenth of Mitch's 1.21.98.
Race three saw Maddren get off to a tardy getaway, and you could almost feel Harri Jones' excitement getting into turn one first, perhaps for the first time in his short racing career.
The fun was over by turn two just 50 metres further on with both a fast starting Tom Corbett and Mitch Maddren forging past. James Corbett was also past Jones in turn four to make things worse.
Curtis lost places with a slow start but caught up to Chapman who was battling with Fahey. Maddren was all over Tom Corbett's RF03 and this was a determined battle that would go all the way to the line, the two of them side by side in many a braking area.
Jones took a few torrid battling laps to find a way past James Corbett, and then could not close the gap to the leading duo. The leader's fight was resolved in favour of Tom Corbett.
Chapman got past Fahey for a couple of laps before Fahey was able to turn things around, but both of them eventually lost out to Curtis.
Campbell and Boulton initially ran with this group but Ryan made a mistake and had a very slow lap 4 to finish behind Boulton who was very happy to have made it into the 1.24s for the first time at Morgan Park.
Another good weekend of racing, and some tough battles, and the pace is getting hot. The end result for the round was a first for Mitch Maddren, second for Harry Jones, and a third for Tom Corbett.
The next round is back at QR for the Shannon's Nationals at the end of July where we are racing with a big field of Duratec Formula Fords and hopefully some southern chancers in the FF1600 class.
Many thanks to Dewi Jones Photography for donating the wonderful action photos accompanying this race report.
1. Mitch Maddren - 57 pts
2. Harri Jones - 46 pts
3. Tom Corbett - 42 pts
4. James Corbett - 38 pts
5. Dylan Fahey - 30 pts