British F3

SEASON PREVIEW: 2021 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship – Elite Motorsport

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Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Elite Motorsport are a new entry for the 2021 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship grid, replacing Lanan Racing.

They bring with them years of success in Ginetta Junior, and are the reigning series champions heading into 2021, courtesy of Tom Lebbon.

So let’s start with him, shall we?

Tom Lebbon – #34 – GBR

Reigning Ginetta Junior champion Tom Lebbon (pictured) graduates to British F3 with the team that took him to last year’s title.

He won the rookie and outright titles in his first season out of karts, and moves straight along the well-trodden path from Ginetta Junior to single-seaters.

He finished fourth in the IAME European Series and runner-up in British LGM, securing him a Ginetta Junior scholarship.

Lebbon adapted quickly to ‘tin-top’ racing, taking 15 podiums from 21 starts in the Ginetta, with five wins and seven pole positions.

The 15-year-old enjoyed what team owner and manager Eddie Ives called “truly exceptional’ – a stunning performance.”

“My aim is to achieve a strong year in F3 while picking up some good finishes along the way,” Lebbon said of the move.

“I want to use this year to learn and experience single-seater racing and develop my driving.

“I’ve a good bond with Elite and believe that they can compete at high level in British F3.

“They have won lots of races and championships and I believe they are a good choice despite Elite being new to the Formula 3 paddock.”

Javier Sagrera Pont – #3 – ESP

Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Javier Sagrera Pont was the first driver confirmed for Elite’s first foray into British F3 this season.

The 17-year-old Spaniard competed part-time in the Spanish F4 Championship last year, taking five top-10 finishes after an eighth-place début in November 2019 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Had the season not been abridged by the COVID-19 pandemic, he might have come into this season with experience at Spa-Francorchamps, which British F3 is earmarked to visit in July.

He started karting in 2015, winning several races a year later in the Cadet class of the Catalan and Spanish Karting Championships.

A second-place finish in the 2017 Spanish Championship led to an international début in 2018, which brought another podium in Spain, while also reaching the finals of the Winter Cup, the WSK, the European Karting Championship and World Karting Championship.

The Girona-born driver is supported by Seven Grand Prix, a driver development programme established in the 1980s which has now traversed the globe from South America to the F3 Asian Championship, recently agreeing to run in Europe with Elite Motorsport.

Sagrera was optimistic during pre-season testing at Donington Park in April, having had a taste of most of the circuits the Championship will visit over the winter.

“It’s going quite well and I think we’re doing a strong pre-season with a lot of testing. I think it’s all about learning the car and adapting to it,” he said.

“When you go to a bigger car, there’s a bit more downforce and a bit more power in the engine.

“I’m learning to understand the car, the brakes, and how to maximise it.

“I’m coming from the European tracks and I think the English ones are very hard ones.

“I needed to learn a lot about them so we’ve done quite a lot of testing to understand them and be good at them.

“My target is to do as [well] as possible and also to win and to be a contender for the championship.”

José Garfias – #99 – MEX

Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Mexican José Garfias completes Elite’s line-up for their first British F3 season.

He brings several race wins in karting, as well as a third-place finish in Formula Mexico in 2019.

The 16-year-old took fourth place in the 2019/20 North and Central American Formula 4 Championship, with 15 top-five finishes and three podiums in 20 races.

Like Sagrera Pont, Garfias’ move into European racing with Elite has been facilitated by Seven GP’s driver development programme.

Eddie Ives said of his final driver announcement: “As with Javier, José comes to us via the Seven GP programme which assists drivers in moving up the motor racing ladder.

“José impressed me in his initial F3 test at Valencia last December.

“He was very quick considering his experience.

“He’ll be embarking on his maiden F3 season and like Javier, racing in Britain for the first time, but I’m certain with some races under his belt, he’ll score some good results during the course of the year.”

Garfias added, “My goal for this season is to learn and gain more experience.

“Hopefully I can have success along the way.

“I am very excited for 2021 because racing in Europe, and F3, will be something completely new for me.

“I can’t wait for the season to start, racing on the famous tracks in Britain, and to work with the guys at Elite Motorsport.

The verdict

Being completely new to not only British F3 but also single-seaters, it would be understandable to put Elite at a disadvantage compared to Arden Motorsport, the series’ other new team with extensive experience and success in junior single-seaters, on paper.

But Elite have pedigree of their own, and bring with them three exciting young drivers who’ve enjoyed significant success early in their careers.

Tom Lebbon stays with the team that took him to the Ginetta Junior title, and will no doubt benefit from a familiarity with the team that Sagrera and Garfias may lack in the early stages of a 24-race season.

Sagrera is targeting a title tilt straight out of the blocks, and has a track record of featuring regularly at the front so far in his career.

Meanwhile, fellow Seven GP-supported driver Garfias enters the European scene and may take more time to acclimatise to the circuits and conditions.

The BRDC British Formula 3 Championship begins at Brands Hatch on 22/23 May, supporting the Intelligent Money British GT Championship.

The Checkered Flag will be bringing you all the action from the season.

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Stickler for track limits, covering BRDC British F3 and the British GT Championship. Twitter: @FutbolCallander
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