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Austrian racing driver Josh Dufek built pace and confidence on the streets of Melbourne this weekend, marking his first time racing in Australia with a strong development from his rookie season debut. 

For only the second time in history, the Formula 3 grid made the epic journey to Australia joining  the Formula 1 support paddock at Albert Park street circuit, in the heart of Melbourne. Offering the drivers a well-rounded challenge of high-speed sweeping sections and heavy braking into sharp turns, the 5.278km track is tough for overtaking despite a number of DRS zones.

Promising Pace

Taking to the track for the first time for practice on Friday morning, Josh was ready to shake out his car and eager to learn as much as he could about the bumpy street circuit. Despite the run time being interrupted by red flags, the Austrian driver stacked more laps than most of the field and matched the pace of his teammate. 

Qualifying was set to be a thrilling affair that tested Josh’s nerve and skill as any slight error could end in the wall. Rising to the challenge, the PHM AIX racer bounced back from his disappointment in the season opener to fire up his rapid pace and keep his name clear of the long list of track limits violations. Josh finished the session in P13 just a mere 0.179s shy of claiming the reverse pole position. 

“Our weekend has started better than Bahrain which I’m happy about. We managed to bank a good amount of laps which helped set us up for qualifying. 
The session was interrupted by red flags, but we did manage to get some good track time and were so close to claiming reverse pole. Overall I’m satisfied with P13 at this stage considering where we were in Round 1 and that it’s a completely new track for me.”

Tyre Trouble and Teamwork

Firing off the line bright and early on Saturday morning, the young Austrian capitalised on his strong starting position on the run down to Turn 1 by clinching one position on his rivals. Biding his time as the race entered the opening stages, he kept his nose clean and started his mission to pick his way through the pack. 

However it soon became clear that the field were battling against a high level of tyre degradation and Josh was no different as he found his tyres losing grip and rapidly dropping his initial strong momentum. Despite this disappointment, he had full confidence in the team that they could reverse their fortune in the feature race.

“I felt I had a great start until unfortunately my tyres started falling away around Lap 7, then they completely fell away which meant I didn’t have the grip to fight back. I focused on looking after the tyres to get to a point where we could finish the race. Frustrating result considering we were on for a top ten finish, but we were able to learn a lot of things about the car and we can make a big change to the car to try and improve our tyre wear in tomorrow’s race” 

Dueling Down Under

Back on track on Sunday morning, Josh had his eyes firmly trained on fighting his way forward to the points paying positions. Forced to take avoiding action as the field powered into Turn 1 for the first time, his rival locked up on the inside and stole his line, he managed to keep the #28 car out of trouble. Following a number of opening lap incidents taking place, the safety car picked up the pack and Josh readied himself for the restart. 

Running P17 having lost places avoiding the chaos on track, the young rookie soon hooked into a fierce battle with Dunne dueling hard as DRS came into play. 

Running side by side with Dunne who tried to hold him off, it was Josh’s own lightning quick reactions that allowed him to benefit as rivals ahead collided on the road in front of them.  Stealthily whilst still at racing speed, he managed to pick his way through the aftermath to climb back to P16.

With thermal degradation of the tyres becoming a factor for the whole field, leaving a wave of tyre marbles across the Albert Park surface. Unfortunately Josh found himself a passenger as he lost control of the rear of his car and dramatically span across the track. But with strong nerve, the resolute racer managed to catch the car mid-spin and continue relatively unscathed.

Although he had lost positions, the Austrian driver dug deep and began to claw his way back up the field to cross the line in P22. 

Bringing the weekend to a close, whilst the results did not reflect his efforts, Josh reflected on a positive step forward in his rookie campaign. 

“The results are still far from where we want to be, but we learned a lot from these first two rounds that we can take forward into the rounds in Europe. Our one lap pace has been strong in Melbourne and improved from Bahrain which has been a positive step forward, now we just have to work on improving our race pace. 
We have the Barcelona test coming up where we can test new set ups and focus on making a strong comeback at Imola.”

With a break in the season as the Formula 3 grid prepare for the European portion of the calendar. Josh will have the opportunity to tune his skills at in-season testing in Barcelona between 16-18th April, before Round 3 gets underway in Imola on 17-19th May. 


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