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Island Rookies On The Mark in Friday Practice   
Story By: F3 Media Release  Date: 21/9/2012 at 5:13:30 PM 
ROOKIE drivers with no prior wings and slicks experience at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit have impressed during Friday practice for round 7 of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship.

Across two, 30-minute sessions, Sydney driver Nathan Morcom, Melbourne Formula Ford ace Jake Fouracre and F3 Forpark National Class frontrunners Lockie Marshall, Hayden Cooper and Jon Collins all produced strong efforts today ahead of the season-closer this weekend.

Morcom, driving Astuti Motorsport’s Sydney Motorsport Park-winning Dallara-Renault, was third fastest in the opening session and second in practice two – only bumped off the top spot by a pair of last-minute flying laps by champion James Winslow.

Morcom has F3 experience under his belt – but was right on the pace from the first lap of practice in his debut for the Melbourne-based Astuti team.

Cooper – who has already wrapped up the National class crown – hadn’t seen the Island before he arrived at the circuit this morning but was another to quickly adapt in the one-hours worth of track time on offer today.

His 1m29.19s lap in the second session was less than 1s slower than Winslow’s best at a track that traditionally favours the later-model, championship class cars.

“Given it’s the first time I’ve seen the track, ever, I’m pretty happy,” Cooper said.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done but we’ll make some tweaks and build on it tomorrow. The team have done that all year and we’ll do it again and be on the pace for tomorrow.

“It’s an awesome track. The speed you can carry around here is mind-boggling. I almost underestimated how physical it would actually be.

Marshall, Gersekowski and Fouracre also had solid days, the Mygale rookie an impressive fifth overall in second practice.

A Victorian Formula Ford Champion, Fouracre had only one-day’s worth of testing at Winton before jumping into the Mygale Australia M-07 this morning but by the end of the day looked like he’d been doing it for much longer.

“It’s been pretty good,” he said.

“Aside from a brief run at Winton this is really my first day in the car so it’s been a learning experience, especially driving with the aero. But it’s been great – the cars are great to drive.”

Winslow topped both sessions today, Gilmour just 0.05s behind him in opening practice in a promising sign that the ongoing rivalry between the two will continue for at least one more round.

A coil pack failure in the second session stopped Gilmour from completing any further laps - however the Queenslander says he thinks the car is up to the task of fighting for wins come tomorrow.

Winslow's R-Tek team mate Steel Guiliana was in the mix all day and will be looking to end his strong second half of the year - and consolidate third place in the drivers' championship in the process - with a strong result this weekend.

Today’s two, 30-minute sessions were the only chance to practice for this weekend’s round – held with the Shannons Nationals – before teams qualify and contest the first sprint race in a busy Saturday.

Two further races will follow Sunday, with the action set to be broadcast live on thenationals.com.au
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