How closes gap ahead of AFO season finale

Ryan How has significantly closed the gap to Australian Formula Open series leader, Trent Grubel after a chaotic weekend at Shannons SpeedSeries Sandown International Raceway round earlier this month.

The Victorian looked unstoppable in the early part of the weekend, firstly claiming pole position on Saturday morning, while not even damage to the anti-roll bar of his Dallara F3 could stop him from claiming top honours in Race 1.

The 21-year-old then continued his red-hot form by taking victory again later on in the afternoon, making it two in a row at the Springvale circuit in challenging, changing conditions.

A chaotic third and final race saw plenty of side-by-side action between How and teammate Grubel, but in the end it was the latter who would come out on top.

Contact between the two would force How to manage significant damage to the floor for the remainder of the race, but despite missing out on the clean sweep, How would still accumulate enough points to walk away with round honours.

Damage to the floor of Ryan How’s Dallara after contact with Trent Grubel in Race 3. Photo: Ryan How Racing 

How was pleased with his performance at Sandown Raceway and executed the long-game strategy to ensure he was within reaching distance of the series title.

“It was great to win the weekend, it was the best possible outcome and now I have got a chance of winning it in the last round,” How said.

“None of us really got much practice in because of the weather, it was my first time driving an open wheeler in the wet, so it proved challenging, but luckily it did start to dry up later on.

“I was able to get the win in Race 1 despite the car not feeling up to pace, but I found out after the race that we had a broken anti-roll bar.

“I got passed by Trent on the last lap, but I knew he had a penalty so I opted not to fight it or do anything silly to give up the win.

“The second race went a little bit more smoothly, but it was the third race that ended up being the one everyone is talking about after I was pushed wide at the final corner.

“The contact ripped a big hole in the floor, you can only imagine what that does to the aero and I had to figure out how far I could push the car.

“At the end of the day I was just thinking smart, better to not risk anything and ensure I win the weekend by crossing the line wherever I would end up.”

With the gap to the top at less than 20 points, How knew what needed to be done to walk away with the title at Phillip Island and will rely on pre-round testing to further prepare.

“If I clean sweep the weekend, I believe I will walk away with the title, I am confident with my abilities in the car and my race-craft that I can get it done,” How explained.

“I have never driven this model car at Phillip Island before, it is quite a mentally demanding track, but we will have a test day beforehand to get adjusted to it.

“There isn’t a lot of data across the board, but I will only need a couple of sessions to gain my confidence and I believe I am the best at getting up to speed quickly, just like I did at Sandown and Queensland Raceway.”

The Australian Formula Open title race will reach its conclusion when the category heads to Phillip Island for the final round of its inaugural season on 25-26 November.