Gilmour lives on the edge in race one thriller   

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CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER Chris Gilmour has lived up to his promise of not just cruising around collecting points to seal his career first F3 Australian Drivers Championship, by winning a thriller at Symmons Plains Raceway today.

From his customary brilliant start, Gilmour rocketed into an early lead before having to defend serious advances throughout the 15 lap duration from first James Winslow, then Tim Macrow and finally John Magro on the final lap.

Gilmour lead all the way but three different drivers held second throughout the race in a now-traditional display of slipstreaming and wheel-to-wheel battling that is customary for F3 racing at Symmons Plains.

He held on by two-tenths to take his 11th career victory and jump to a 23 point lead in the championship with two races remaining tomorrow.

In perfect conditions and in front of a strong Saturday crowd at the 2.4km circuit south of Launceston, Gilmour labelled the victory as his ‘finest ever’ after feeling the pressure of a championship weighing down on him before the race.

“I was feeling it last night, I was very nervous,” Gilmour admitted.

“But that was my best ever race. To do it in front of a big crowd, at the V8’s and under pressure all the way was really, really satisfying.

“I got the start and had to drive reasonably defensively at the end. I was pretty aggressive with Johnny (Magro) at the end – and apologised to him afterwards for it, but he was fine. He knows I want to win this thing by winning races and that I would fight for it.

“It was a satisfying race. We can play it smart tomorrow, drive my usual races and hopefully bring it home. A great day.”

Magro was also a star, setting the quickest lap as he charged from fourth to second at the finish – a feat matched by former champion Tim Macrow who flew from fifth to third at the end of lap one, and second a few laps later as he hustled his way past Winslow at the hairpin.

The two ‘M’s’ swapped position with two laps remaining, Magro then chasing Gilmour hard in the final lap and attempting a pass into the final turn – forcing Gilmour to drive defensively to hold out for the victory.

Two further races – one 18 laps and one 15 – will be contested tomorrow to conclude the F3 Australian Drivers Championship and the winner of the CAMS Gold Star award.