Team Avanti to run Ralt for Gilmore in British F3 Championship
The new Ralt F3 car will be run in the 2002 BRDC British F3 Championship by Team Avanti, returning the marque to the British series for the first time since 1993. After a successful week of testing Team Avanti boss, Nigel Clyde, announced today (18th March, 2002) the F302 will make its debut at Brands Hatch at Easter in the hands of Matthew Gilmore, the 20-year-old from Northern Ireland.
Team Avanti will be running both Matthew and Italian, Stefano Fabi, in the series and Nigel explained the plan for the start of the season: "We have been working with everyone at Ralt on this programme for several months and though, compared to Dallara, it is a small company, we know we will have an incredible back up. They have put a hundred per cent commitment behind the project, which also has backing from Mobil 1. Matthew has been able to do a considerable amount of testing in the car, but Stefano has not driven it yet. In view of this he will be starting the season in a Dallara."
For Mobil, it was not a hard decision to support Ralt's return to the British series, as Original Equipment Manager, Mark J Humphries, explained: "Ralt has an established pedigree as a company at the leading edge of engineering and technology - something we look for in a partnership. The combination of a Ralt-engineered car and Mobil 1 will present a formidable proposition this year."
The team first tested the car, which is fitted with a Mugen-Honda engine, on the 24th January at Pembrey and the most recent tests were last week at Donington and Croft. After the final day at Croft Matthew declared: "Today we made a massive step forward by making some big changes to the car. I really enjoy driving it and am delighted that I shall have the chance to prove just what it can do in this year's series."
Oxfordshire based Ralt Engineering was determined to get a car back in the British series and has been working on its return since 1998. The first car it built was sold to American Stuart Crow who raced in and won the US Championship in 2000.
The last time a Ralt won a race in the UK was in 1992 in the hands of the Belgian driver, Philippe Adams, however, the successes for the marque include championship wins for drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet and Mika Hakkinen with the last title going to Rubens Barrichedllo in 1991.