for British Formula 3
Welsh wonder Hywel Lloyd is the first driver on the grid for the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series. The 23-year-old from Corwen, North Wales, this week became the first competitor to register for the 2009 season of the UK's premier single-seater series.
Hywel, who finished third in the championship's National class last year in his debut F3 season, is to step up a gear and join the International class at the wheel of a latest-spec Dallara chassis prepared by family team CF Racing.
Harry Lloyd, Hywel's father and team manager, said his son's 2008 results, which included class race victories at Monza and Silverstone, prompted the team to accelerate its strategy: "We had a three-year plan when we went into Formula 3, and had aimed to step up after two seasons in the National class. But Hywel finished third in his debut season, so we had achieved more than we had hoped for or expected and it was time to move on. That's why we have decided to go up to the International class; Hywel will be the first Welshman to race at this level for more than 20 years."
Hywel does not underestimate the challenge he faces: "It's very competitive and we are really looking forward to it. Lots of people only ever talk about doing it - but we are committed and we have shown our commitment by entering." He has already been behind the wheel of his new mount, having tested both in the UK and in Spain in December.
Lloyd's Corwen Forestry-backed Dallara F309 will be powered by a Mugen Honda engine prepared by respected tuner Neil Brown Engineering. "They did a great job for us last year and they are with us again and helping us with preparation already," said Lloyd Senior.
Hywel's track career began in karts in 2005, when he was British 125cc ICC Champion. In 2007 he won the BARC Formula Renault Championship at his second attempt, as well as the BARC Formula Renault Winter Series.
The Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series, which gets underway at Lloyd's 'home' circuit of Oulton Park, Cheshire, over the Easter weekend (11-13 April), is shaping up for a typically competitive season, with new drivers, new teams and a new engine supplier - Volkswagen - set to join the grid.
Reigning champions Carlin Motorsport have announced that they will field a four-car squad in the International class, with three young English drivers - Max Chilton, Oliver Oakes and Henry Arundel, all of whom have F3 experience - joining Aussie ace Daniel Ricciardo, last year's Formula Renault Eurocup vice-champion, on the squad.
Talented Colombian Carlos Huertas has meanwhile announced that he will race for Raikkonen Robertson Racing, with Spanish F3 race-winner Victor Garcia plumping for a Fortec Motorsport drive.
JTR, formed last year and the only team to benefit from the use of the promising Mygale chassis, plans to run two cars in '09 and hopes to announce a team-mate for promising Brit Nick Tandy in the coming weeks.
British F3 is sponsored by US tyre manufacturer Cooper Tire and is further supported by motorsport insurance specialist AON, by Sunoco Racing Fuels and by Anglo American Oil Company.