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Cheshire's Oulton Park to Stage Championship Showdown

The 2017 F3 Cup Championship reaches its conclusion this weekend at Oulton Park, and in what is almost a tradition now, the title fight will go down to the wire.

Two drivers remain in contention for the title, but it is arguably current leader Jacopo Sebastiani's to lose. The Italian has had a strong, consistent year, finishing on the podium in all but three of the sixteen races so far. A spattering of pole positions and fastest laps helped him reach the top of the table, but he had to wait until Snetterton in August for his first outright win of the year. That said, he made his point loud and clear in Norfolk, completing a hat-trick of wins and collecting the Sunoco Fastest Lap of the Weekend Award to boot.

The other title contender is the University of Wolverhampton Racing's Shane Kelly. The team missed out on the Drivers' title by just one point last year, and there is no doubt that has spurred them on in 2017. The season began as strong as their F3 Cup debut last year; a clean sweep of wins at Donington fired up the new squad of students and set them up well for the year. Though not quite as consistent as Sebastiani, Kelly has secured strong results all season, and two Sunoco Fastest Lap awards show the pace available.

Looking at the pair's results at Oulton Park last year tells a similar story, with Kelly scoring a second place in race one but a DNF in race two, while Sebastiani scored well in both despite not making the podium. Arriving in Cheshire in October, the weather is likely play a significant role this weekend too, so it is very much all to play for.

 An interesting battle has emerged for the third place Championship trophy with Robbie Watts, Cian Carey, Stuart Wiltshire and George Line all mathematically in the running. Watts has had a very good year, hampered by a trio of DNFs but enjoying seven podium finishes. . Irishman Carey's results haven't truly reflected his pace on track; a pair of podiums at Silverstone National and the Sunoco award at Donington Park at the start of the year giving an inkling of the performance available. Engine issues at Silverstone GP meant two non-scoring rounds and a tricky start to the following Snetterton weekend.

Stuart Wiltshire's fortunes have been mixed this year, but a switch back to his trusty F308 mid-season significantly improved his results, with two podiums at Snetterton. George Line, the reigning champion, had a particularly tough start to his year, having to wait until August for his first podium finish. A pair of DNFs at Brands Hatch cost him dearly but he will be keen to end the year on a high.

Honourable mention must go to CF Racing's Wade Eastwood, who only joined the championship in June but made his presence felt immediately, taking five wins in a row. Two non-scoring races since have put to rest any title hopes for this year, however his rapid pace should not be discounted and he could have a significant impact on the outcome this weekend.

The excitement this year has not been confined to the front runners, however - indeed, the battles in the mid-field have been amongst the best in the championship's history. A number of returning faces (Gino Ussi, Chris Dittmann, Richard Purcell, Jeremy Timms) joining the regular runners (Tony Bishop, James Heffernan, Mark Harrison, David Gillett, Daryl Jones, Malcolm Scott, Adrian Holey) as well as a host of new drivers (Peter Venn, Philip Jeans, Oliver Sirrell, Jonathon Hughes) all combined to produce some thrilling action on track. No fewer than 26 drivers have taken part in the championship this year, with the peak entry of 20 cars at Silverstone GP being the largest Formula 3 grid anywhere in the world that weekend. 

F3 Cup will be in action at 09:25 (qualifying), 11:50 (race one) and 14:25 (race two) on Saturday 28 October. Live timing and commentary will be available at www.f3cup.co.uk/LIVE