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Tom Lebbon fights back from tough start at Snetterton

Rising star Tom Lebbon fought back from a tough start to the weekend at Snetterton to secure a pair of top five finishes from the latest rounds of the GB3 Championship season.

With the series having been rebranded from the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship ahead of the meeting due to a naming rights decision taken by the FIA, Bury St Edmunds-based teenager Tom went into his home event eager to impress on a weekend where the famous Norfolk circuit celebrated its 70th anniversary.

The Elite Motorsport driver enjoyed two busy days of testing ahead of the weekend, but qualifying on Saturday morning would provide a new challenge with the session affected by heavy rainfall.

Tom was able to nail a quick lap early on in the session before conditions worsened, and the end result was an impressive third on the grid for the opening race – his best qualifying result of the season to date in his We Finance Any Car-backed entry.

Encouragingly, his second fastest time would also be good enough to leave Tom sitting third on the grid for the start of race two.

The opening race would kick off in improved conditions later in the day, with Tom lining up in second spot as a result of a grid penalty carried into the weekend by Sebastian Alvarez. Any hope of a strong result would be ended on the opening lap however, when contact saw Tom sustain a puncture that forced him to return to the pits.

Despite lapping quicker than a number of the top six runners, the delays caused by the unscheduled stop would leave Tom well behind the remainder of the field as he crossed the line in an unrepresentative 16th spot.

Tom’s strong qualifying form provided him with an immediate chance to make amends in race two and he held his place when the lights went out to get the action underway.

Although overhauled by Zak O’Sullivan and Roman Bilinski at the start of lap three, a problem for Oliver Bearman meant Tom only dropped a single position and he would remain in fourth for the remainder of the race, not quite able to keep pace with the three drivers ahead but with an increasingly comfortable advantage over the chasing pack behind.

The reverse grid final race would see Tom lining up in ninth place on the grid and although he made up places at the start, the teenager would then be shuffled back to his starting position by the end of lap three.

Tom then started to fight back however, and he managed to get ahead of Ayrton Simmons with a fine move at Brundle on lap five to go eighth. Simmons tried to fight back on the following lap but Tom was able to hold onto the position and then moved up into seventh ahead of Javier Sagrera when his team-mate slowed with front wing damage.

Tom looked set for seventh but there was a late sting in the tail when rain arrived two laps from the end; making track conditions tricky for the slick-shod cars. A spin for Oliver Bearman moved Tom up into sixth spot he then got ahead of Mikkel Grundtvig at the final corner.

Keeping his car on track through the final lap, Tom was rewarded with a solid fifth place finish and it means he ends the weekend having retained eighth in the championship standings ahead of the next round on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit.

"It’s been another very constructive weekend of racing for me, and we’ve picked up two strong finishes along the way," he said. "We have been able to keep developing the car and we have showed a lot of pace in the wet conditions in particular.

"Scoring my best qualifying result and starting from P2 and P3 was really good, although it was unfortunate that we couldn’t make the most of it in race one. However, we fought back well with two really good results in the remaining races and we can now head to Silverstone in confident mood.

"Hopefully we can maintain the forward momentum we have shown in recent events as I look to finish the season strongly."