Missed opporunities for Collins on F3 Return

2015 Australian Formula 3 Champion Jon Collins endured a positive return to F3 SN-SMP-JC-001racing at Sydney Motorsport Park.  However, the Sydney-sider was left to rue what could have been.

Collins’ return was full of promise after being crowned the 2015 champion. From the outset in practice Jon was on the pace of the leaders. Finishing 3rd outright for Friday practice.

For qualifying, the strong pace continued. Tim Macrow who had recently been crowned the 2016 Champion, put his Dallara F307 on Pole followed by Collins’ teammate Cameron Sheilds. Jon managed to bring the #1 Gilmour Racing Dallara across the line in P3 with a time of 1:23.78

Race 1 on the Saturday afternoon proved to be a tough return. After a great start, Collins was on the back of Sheilds and Macrow. However the opening laps would allow the two front runners to bridge a gap, leaving Jon and 4th place Roland Legge to battle it out for the final podium position. A late race safety car neutralised the field and on the restart, Roland launched a late move on the outside of turn 2. Collins was tough in defense, but Legge’s determination on the outside proved too much and he slipped by to claim 3rd from Collins.

Sunday’s races brought on a new challenge. High winds would come into play, KMP-SMSP-Nov16-56746making conditions difficult for the F3 field. The starts for both races weren’t great. Collins stalled off the line in Race 2 and had to claw his way back through the field. Collins was catching Legge for 3rd when Legge had an off on the final corner, gifting 3rd place to the champ.

The final race of the day again started with Collins stalling off the line. Thankfully, the third and final race was longer and Collins was quickly able to catch up to Roland Legge and Cameron Sheilds, who were having their own thrilling battle! Their battle allowed Collins to close up quickly. Witnessing Sheilds try numerous moves without success, Collins wasn’t going to allow the same to happen to him. After holding each other up coming out of turn 3, Collins lined up his run on Sheilds through turn 4 and 5, getting the better run and diving down the inside at turn 6. Next up was Legge, which would come the following lap at turn 2. Collins used the slip stream down the straight and through turn 1 to gain on Legge, making a bold, last minute move under brakes on the outside of turn 2. Legge would hold the inside but Collins was persistent on the outside, edging ahead. On the exit the two briefly came together, rubbing wheels. Thankfully for both cars, damage was minimal and Collins continued his great run passed Legge and was on the hunt to chase down race leader Time Macrow. Jon would fall just shy of catching Macrow as the laps ran down. 2nd place and 3rd for the round is where Collins would finish.

It was a day of what could have been! The conditions were tricky and if Collins had not stalled, maybe more was possible. The pace the Sydney-sider was showing, could have translated into race wins. However it was not to be. Collins was still able to grab a podium on his return to the category as a champion.

“It was a great weekend!” said Collins

“Firstly to come back to my home track, as the champion, running number 1. It was an amazing feeling!”

“I’m a bit disappointed about stalling, but i managed to claw my way back on both occasions which showed promising pace. I can’t begin to thank everyone at McDonald’s Gilmour Racing for allowing me the opportunity to come back and race as a champion. It’s been surreal!”