One of the most dominant series champions in the ten-year history of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship will return to the series at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide next week.
British driver Ben Clucas will return to Adelaide based Opes Prime Team BRM for the second round of the 2008 Gold Star Championship, the same team with whom he won 11 races from 12 starts en route to becoming the first non Australian or New Zealand driver to win the Australian Drivers Championship in its 50th anniversary.
Clucas, now 23, won the 2006 championship convincingly despite missing the final two rounds due to budgetary reasons.
Next weekend will line up in an Opes Prime Team BRM Dallara F307 alongside existing drivers James Winslow (Also from Great Britain), Round 1 winner Nathan Caratti, New Zealand's Earl Bamber and National Class driver Lee Farrell, from Ireland.
Aside from their successes in Formula 3, Clucas and Opes Prime Team BRM have also performed strongly on the 3.2km Adelaide street circuit in the past -- racing to a podium finish in the opening round of the 2006 Formula Ford Championship.
Recently he finished second in the 2007 Spanish GT Championship, driving a Porsche GT3, but said he was keen to get back in the Formula 3 Dallara.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back in a Single Seater -- The Porsche was great fun but the thought of taking an F3 car around the Adelaide street circuit is just brilliant, and something I'm very excited about," he enthused.
Clucas said that returning to Opes Prime Team BRM Gave him plenty of confidence for his Formula 3 'comeback'.
"It's great to be back with the team," he said. "Obviously we had a great season together in 2006 and I have a lot of good memories. It's nice to go back to a team where you are already friends with everyone -- I'll be able to relax and enjoy the weekend. As well as being great people that are also fantastic technically which makes it even better"
"Having raced (on the Adelaide streets) in the past gives me a bit of an advantage because I know the track -- but I don't think it's a big deal. At the end of the day it's a piece of tarmac with corners so I'm sure everyone will have learnt it by the end of the two practice sessions."
Clucas returns to a series with better depth of competition than ever before -- something Ben believes will only spur him on to more success -- and speed in the car.
"As a driver it's always better to race against the most competitive field possible," he said.
"Against better competition you learn more and improve yourself further when you are being pushed to find extra time. It will be great to have such a big grid and one of such depth of good drivers - There are a lot of good drivers out there who have been doing a fair few miles in a Formula 3 car recently -- so I'm going to have to work hard to compete."
Opes Prime Team BRM Manager Mark Rundle said that the team was pleased to welcome their former champion back into the fold.
"Ben holds a special place in our teams' history thanks to his driving in winning our third Formula 3 championship, so naturally we're very pleased to welcome him back to the fold," he said.
"After the performances at Eastern Creek we are feeling confident that the team now has the driving talent to have four cars capable of winning at any time. Lee is also looking very strong in the National Class so naturally there is a very confident air about the team at the moment.
"The team is not feeling complacent, however, as there are a lot of very good drivers and teams all trying to beat us -- but as a team we'll work harder than ever to ensure that our home round is the best yet." He said.
Opes Prime Team BRM Will be in action at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide between February 21 -- 24.