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Tom Lebbon secures breakthrough podium at Donington Park

Rising star Tom Lebbon maintained his strong run of form in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship with a maiden podium finish as the series headed for Donington Park for the third round of the campaign.

The Bury St Edmunds-based teenager showed strong pace throughout pre-event testing in his Elite Motorsport run car as he lapped inside the top ten in all six sessions that took place across Thursday and Friday.

An action-packed qualifying session saw Tom secure the eighth quickest time at the wheel of his We Finance Any Car-backed machine, although he had posted a time good enough for fifth only to lose the lap to a track limits infringement.

Starting race one from seventh as a result of a penalty for one of his rivals, Tom managed to get ahead of Christian Mansell on the opening lap and fought hard to keep the Carlin racer at bay until the final lap.

Although that meant he crossed the line in seventh spot, a penalty for team-mate Javier Sagrera for a false start ensured that Tom picked up a sixth place finish.

Race two would see Tom taking the start in ninth but a wild moment at Coppice on lap one saw him lose places and slip back down to twelfth spot. Despite lapping quicker than the cars ahead, Tom found himself running in the same place through to lap nine when Bart Horsten and Reece Ushijima clashed at the final corner, promoting him up into eleventh spot.

Horsten’s exclusion post-race for causing the accident then left Tom with a tenth place finish and he would start the reverse grid final race from the same place on the grid.

A strong opening lap saw Tom climb up into seventh spot and then took sixth with a fine move at the Craner Curves just before a brief safety car period. Quickly passing team-mate Jose Garfias after the restart to go fifth, Tom then took fourth when Ayrton Simmons ran off track and quickly closed onto the battle ahead for second between Max Mazorati and and Sebastian Alvarez.

Tom would put huge pressure on Alvarez ahead and drew alongside more than once in his bid to secure third, but would ultimately secure his place on the podium when Alvarez was handed a time penalty for exceeding track limits.

Scoring an additional seven points for making up more places than anyone else, Tom ends the weekend sitting ninth in the standings and is only eight points away from the top six going into the next round of the season at the famous Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium later this month.

"It’s been a really productive weekend for me at Donington Park and to finish it on the podium in race three is fantastic," he said. "After a decent result in race one, race two proved to be more of a challenge but I felt confident that I could move forwards in race three.

"It wasn’t easy to come through the field but I took advantage of some incidents for other drivers and made some good overtakes to work my way up the order.

"It’s been a big step up for me from Ginetta Juniors but I feel I’m really getting there now and I have to thank the team and all of my sponsors for their hard work. With a podium behind me, I’m taking a lot of confidence into the next round at Spa."