F3 Cup ready for record grid after 14 more drivers commit to 2012 championship

21/01/2012 - The F3 Cup is expecting its biggest ever grid in 2012 with the announcement of a further 14 drivers.

21/02/2012 - The F3 Cup is expecting its biggest ever grid in 2012 with the announcement of a further 14 drivers committing to join the championship.

After gaining outline approval for championship status from the MSA, the F3 Cup has been steadily attracting interest and is now set for a bumper grid at the season opener at Oulton Park on Easter Monday 9 April. The latest wave of recruits includes a host of new faces amongst several names who will be returning to the F3 Cup for a second season under the MotorSport Vision Racing (MSVR) umbrella.

New to the championship this season is reigning Radical Clubman's Cup champion James Abbott, who will make his first foray into single seater racing this season. The 18-year-old will race an ex-European F3 Open Dallara F307 and will compete in the Cup Class for cars built from 2002-2007.

Joining Abbott, and making his F3 Cup debut is former BARC Formula Renault racer David Scott. The Cheshire-born driver hasn't raced regularly since 2009 due to work and family commitments, but the 28-year-old has a rich racing pedigree, competing in BARC Formula Renault and the SPEED Euroseries.

Italian racer Gino Ussi will also make his debut in the F3 Cup this season as he joins Grays Motorsport, the team who ran last year's winner of the FIA Formula Two test, Aaron Steele. The 53-year-old businessman is a familiar name among F3 circles, winning the ARP F3 Class A championship in 2000. Ussi, who will drive a Dallara F307 this year, has also raced successfully in Formula Palmer Audi and won the Britcar Production Class in 2010.

Race winner and regular podium finisher Chris Needham will return to the F3 Cup competing in his proven 2004 machine. Needham, who tasted victory at Brands Hatch and Oulton Park last season, enjoyed several entertaining battles with Mark Terry from Kent, who will also return to the grid with Lanan Racing.

Joining Terry at Lanan Racing is F3 podium finisher Kat Impey. The Wokingham-born driver was a permanent fixture on the F3 Cup grid last season and will be desperate to build on her performances which saw her finish in the top-six on a regular basis.        

Another F3 Cup race winner ready to do battle in the 2012 F3 Cup is Louis Hamilton-Smith. The 28-year-old from Birmingham enjoyed three podiums last season including a victory at Donington Park. Hamilton-Smith has purchased Steele's old car, which secured 14 wins last year, and he is likely to be amongst the podium contenders this season.

Magic Motorsport will contest the new F3 Cup Teams Championship with brothers Mark and Neil Harrison from Worcester, behind the wheel of a Dallara F307 and a Dallara F302 respectively. Mark enjoyed success towards the latter stages of the 2011 season, while Neil was a top-six contender throughout the campaign.

Veteran racer Dave Karaskas will once again line up on the F3 Cup grid after a successful campaign last year which saw him compete in his 400th career race. Karaskas will run his 2001 Dallara in the Trophy Class, which caters for cars built from 1997-2001.

Taking the fight to Karaskas in the Trophy Class will be Alf Skeels and Stephen Clegg. Skeels, who has a Club F3 victory to his name in 2010, competed in six F3 Cup races last season, while Cheshire driver Clegg has several podium finishes to his name in Club F3.

Belgian driver Frank Thomas has confirmed he will join up with Mark Bailey Racing in the team's third car. The 44-year-old raced at Spa in the F3 Cup last year and is eagerly anticipating the new season.

The F3 Cup Masters Class for cars built from 1981-1996 is growing with James Ledamun confirming he will return to the F3 Cup in 2012. This will be the Hampshire driver's third season in F3 and he should provide James Simons with a challenge for the Masters crown.           

The 14 drivers join Tristan Cliffe, Tony Bishop, Stuart Wiltshire, Nick Robinson, James Cross, James Simons and Prajesh Shah on the growing 2012 F3 Cup grid for what should produce a thrilling 18 race championship battle.             

Drivers and teams interested in joining the 2012 F3 Cup should contact championship co-ordinator Simon Davey on 07770 368648, email f3cup@msvracing.co.uk . For all the latest news and further announcements visit www.f3cup.co.uk. Follow F3 Cup on twitter at www.twitter.com/f3cup.