Elite Motorsport learning quickly in debut British F3 season

3 Mins read
Credit: Martyn Pass for Elite Motorsport

Elite Motorsport are one of two teams in their first BRDC British Formula 3 Championship season in 2021, but they’re adapting quickly.

They’re far from a new team, though, having replaced Lanan Racing.

The Norfolk squad have won the last four Ginetta Junior titles with Tom Gamble, Adam Smalley, James Hedley and Tom Lebbon.

Lebbon was the team’s second driver announced for its debut British F3 campaign, between Javier Sagrera and José Garfias.

Their line-up has brought a variety of experience to the grid, though the team had its first podium finish within three races.

Sagrera came home second in the reverse-grid Race 3 at Brands Hatch in May, after 12th-place finishes in the first two outings of the season.

Garfias took 14th and 15th in Races 1 and 3, while reigning Ginetta Junior champion Lebbon put together a solid opening weekend, finishing seventh, ninth and tenth.

The Championship rolled into the Silverstone GP circuit on June 26/27, with the home of British motorsport yielding even more positive results for a team only in its second weekend in single-seaters.

Mexican driver Garfias started and finished Race 1 in 12th place, followed by 15th on Sunday morning. He took an impressive fifth-place finish in Race 3 from sixth on the grid, giving him a handy haul of points which leave the 16-year-old in 17th place in the championship.

Tom Lebbon started Race 1 at Silverstone in tenth place, and though his race ended early, he recovered to take eighth in Race 2, holding position from the start. Race 3 was his best of the weekend, moving up from eighth on the grid to finish sixth, his best result of the season.

He heads into the season’s first visit to Donington Park in 12th place, between Bryce Aron (Carlin) and Sebastian Alvarez (Hitech GP), both in teams with more British F3 experience.

Javier Sagrera has taken some impressive results besides his podium at Brands Hatch. He set the fastest time in the final pre-event testing session on Friday afternoon, before equally-strong qualifying pace.

Qualifying fifth for Race 1 and finishing fourth was a positive effort, with the places reversed in Race 2 on Sunday morning.

His fourth-place finish in Race 1 placed him 13th on the reverse-grid for Race 3. It seems the Spanish driver was squeezed entering Maggotts on Lap 1, retiring after spinning into the gravel. A disappointing end to what was an encouraging weekend up to that point.

Despite the DNF in Race 3, the reverse-grid race hands out fewer points than Races 1 and 2 so he only slipped to eighth in the standings. As such, he stands as the highest-placed Elite driver in the Championship going into Donington Park.

The Leicestershire circuit will be new to Garfias and Sagrera but for limited testing earlier in the year.

Lebbon, though, may benefit from experience taking pole positions, fastest laps and a second-place finish there at the first round of his crowning Ginetta Junior season in 2020.

British F3’s fellow debutants, Arden Motorsport, sit 15 points ahead of Elite in the new Teams’ Championship, offering a potentially-fascinating battle throughout the season.

Though Arden have more experience, and success, in single-seaters, both being new to British F3 is just the sort of leveller that can make for a compelling battle for fourth.

Third might even be on the cards later in the season, should Fortec Motorsport be dragged into the midfield battle. They’re only 15 points ahead of Arden, and 30 clear of Elite. With points available for the top two finishers from each team per race, and 18 races remaining, expect a tight fight at the top of the midfield.

Team Owner and Manager Eddie Ives is pleased with what he’s seen from his drivers so far this season.

“I think for only our second British F3 event, Silverstone was a successful weekend,” he said.

“We were in the top-five every race and it was mega to finish a [testing] session at the front.

“I have no doubt that these sparks will gradually become more regular as we get into the season.

“All three drivers are relatively inexperienced and are making good progress every time they’re in the car.

“It’s only a short break but we are now fully focused on Donington.”

The 2021 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship heads to Donington Park for the third round of the season on 10/11 July, supporting the Intelligent Money British GT Championship.

The Checkered Flag will be bringing you all the action from both series throughout the weekend.

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Stickler for track limits, covering the GB3 Championship and the FIA Formula 3 Championship. Twitter: @MCallanderMedia
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