Hunter McElrea dominated Round 3 of the Australian Formula Ford Championship at Wakefield Park. The 18-year-old from the Gold Coast claimed pole position and three race wins to reclaim the championship lead.
The Sonic driver started Race 1 from pole position and managed to maintain his advantage over Bart Horsten, who was menacing his gearbox for the entirety of the race. The WA driver finished just 0.1s behind McElrea. While the leaders duked it out, Hamish Ribarits was battling with Lachlan Mineeff for third position. On the second last lap of the race, Ribarits made a brave pass on Mineeff at Turn 10, denying him a podium finish.
Race 2 on Sunday saw McElrea edge away from Horsten and Ribarits, leaving the duo to fight for second. During lap 5, Ribarits eventually passed Horsten at Turn 10 and kept him at bay until the end of the race.
With two safety car interruptions, the last race of the weekend was shortened by 4 laps. Hunter McElrea, Bart Horsten and Hamish Ribarits launched well and guided the field through the first lap, before the first safety car was deployed for a stranded car at the fish-hook. McElrea managed the safety car restart well, refusing the attacks from Horsten and Ribarits. It wasn't long before a second safety car was deployed, forcing the trio to finish in the same order as Race 2, taking the chequered flag behind the safety car.
On overall points for Round 3, McElrea, Horsten and Ribarits locked out the podium. McElrea now holds the Championship lead, 17 points clear of Sonic team mate Hamish Ribarits.
"I couldn't have asked for anything more" said McElrea at the end of the podium presentation.
McElrea was also granted the Shell Award for pole position in the Duratec class, while Nathan Herne received the CHI Hard Charger Award for the round.
Bart Horsten's breakthrough performance produced his first National podium and placed him inside top 10 in the Championship standings, despite missing Round 2 at Queensland Raceway.
"I knew we were going to do well, I didn't know how well. I'm still so happy for the second place" said Horsten at the end of the weekend.
Horsten's speed also surprised many of the usual front runners.
"It shows how competitive this Championship is and it's never going to be that easy. Credit to them [Fastlane racing], they've done a great job this weekend and it's great to have someone else to fight at the front" said McElrea.
With four rounds to go, the Championship battle is all but concluded. Our next round will be at Sandown Raceway on July 20-22.
2018 Australian Formula Ford Championship Pointscore (top five):
#2 Hunter McElrea - 164 points
#5 Hamish Ribarits - 147 points
#73 Cameron Shields - 84 points
#10 Zac Soutar - 83 points
#3 Courtney Prince - 82 points