Rising star Tom Lebbon strengthened his bid for a top eight championship finish after a solid weekend on track as the GB3 Championship headed for Oulton Park for the penultimate meeting of the year.
The Elite Motorsport driver from Bury St Edmunds made the long trip to Cheshire eager to bounce back from a tricky weekend at Silverstone in the previous meeting, which yielded just one top ten finish from the three races.
Tom showed strong pace across four sessions on Thursday to end up with the fourth quickest time in his We Finance Any Car-backed machine, and then topped the times in a damp opening session on Friday – where he was comfortably clear of championship leader Zak O’Sullivan.
Qualifying on Saturday morning saw Tom post the ninth quickest time to secure a place on the fifth row of the grid for the opening race, with his second fastest time good enough to ensure he would line up in P8 for race two.
Race one would be decided on the opening lap, with Tom slipped back to P11 – a position he would retain to the end as he found himself caught up behind rival Sebastian Alvarez. Tom would then be promoted into tenth post-race after the exclusion of Luke Browning from the results.
Having struggled for outright pace on Saturday, the team worked hard to make changes to the car for Sunday’s two races, but the first of those would follow a similar story for Tom, with overtaking proving to be tricky after the opening lap.
Having dropped to tenth spot on the opening tour, Tom found himself bottled up behind Reece Ushijima and then Frederick Lubin, with his battle with Lubin proving to be one of the highlights of the race. Moving up into eighth after team-mate Javier Sagrera and then O’Sullivan went off the road, Tom would eventually be classified in seventh when a spin for Roberto Faria saw the race red-flagged.
Eighth on the grid for race three, Tom faced an additional challenge thanks to the arrival of rain before the start, with the whole field left with no option but to take to the track on full wet tyres thanks to the ever worsening conditions.
Tom fought hard to retain his place inside the top ten and would end the weekend with an eighth place finish; the points scored across the three races being good enough leave him just eight points away from the top eight in the standings in his first season of single-seater competition.
Just one weekend remains in the season at Donington Park next month.
"After two strong days of testing, qualifying and race one turned out to be a bit strange as I didn’t seem to have the pace in the car that I expected," he said. "The team worked really hard to solve an issue that was found overnight and more changes to the set-up of the car really changed things for race two.
"Although we were able to show our true speed, I had a slight issue with the pedals at the start and then got caught up behind another driver. Although I think we were quicker, there was just no way past and it shows how difficult overtaking is around Oulton Park.
"A lack of experience in the wet conditions hindered our progress a bit in race three, but overall it’s been a good learning weekend and we’ve scored some solid points which leave us well placed going to Donington Park for the final round."