Victorian teenager Lockie Marshall faced up to the biggest challenge of his motor racing career as he lined up for the 4th Round of the Australian Formula 3 Championship at Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin on the weekend.
Before a crowd of more than 50,000 spectators and the full contingent of V8 Supercar Teams, the teenager from Woodend had his first taste of the pressure of high level motorsport competition. The 2.9 km circuit features the longest straight of all the Australian circuits with the F3 cars reaching speeds of about 230 kph prior to negotiating turn 1, a tightening left hand hairpin. Friday practice saw Marshall top the time sheets in the National Class in practice session 1. Marshall was upbeat after the session saying “I'm very happy with my speed and the set-up of the car”.
Practice session 2 was a different story however, with an electrical fault starting a small fire in the cockpit of his Dallara racing car on lap 3 forcing a hurried exit into pit lane and an exit from the car as the fire marshals quickly doused the flames. Fortunately the damage to the car was minor and following repairs to the wiring the car was prepared for the qualifying session on Saturday morning. Despite the disadvantage of having less practice time than his fellow competitors and being new to the circuit, Marshall was still able to post the 2nd fastest qualifying time in the National Class. As the field lined up for the first of 3 races on Saturday afternoon, Marshall knew that staying out of trouble at turn one was his number one priority. As luck would have it Marshall was able to get around the chaos caused by one of the lead cars spinning in turn one which resulted in him dropping a couple of places as he had to run wide to avoid a stationary car. Marshall put his head down and over the next few laps proceeded to make up the lost places and by the end of the 12 lap race had worked his way up to first place in the National class. Race 2 on Sunday morning saw a clean start however a small error resulted in Marshall loosing a place and eventually finished in 2nd place in his class.
Race 3 was the feature race and saw Marshall starting off pole on the National class grid beside Queenslander Ben Gersekowski. A determined drive from Marshall saw him take the lead in the National class and hold it for the 15 laps to take the win and deliver an overall first place for the race meeting. Commenting after the final race Marshall said " my times were very consistent over the length of the race and my race with one of the Championship class cars helped my draw away from the rest of the National class runners. Its been a great opportunity to race against some top drivers and I've learnt such a lot".
For his debut Formula 3 race it was a great result and all the more satisfying as he was presented his winning trophy by former Australian F1 world Champion Alan Jones.
Lockie would like to thank his sponsors Lord Chemicals, Ontime Distribution, Forensic Consulting, A1 Signs, Elf Racefuels, Connexus, Campbellfield Truck Services, Kyneton Autopro, Kyneton Toyota, Bridgestone Kyneton, Point Precision Engineering, Race Recall and Unique Marine for their support through the year. Lockie would also like to thank the team at Brad Jones Racing for their help over the weekend.
Lockie is now looking forward to the next round of the Australian Formula 3 Championship to be held at Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney on the 14th and 15th of July.
You can watch in-car videos of all the Darwin action and follow Lockie’s progress on his website www.lockiemarshall.com or on Facebook or via twitter at @lockiemarshall