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“Regalia, Sá Silva and Gómez confirm GP3 Series programmes”

February 18, 2013

© GP3 Media Services.

© GP3 Media Services.

With the opening test of the season fast approaching, the GP3 Series added several more names to its 2013 field in recent days.

Facu Regalia returns to the category – this time as a full-time competitor – while both Luis Sá Silva and Samin Gómez Briceno are set to make their category débuts.

Following a busy 2012 that saw Regalia compete in Auto GP and the European F3 Open – alongside four appearances in GP3 – the Argentine racer has committed to ART Grand Prix {note 1} for the coming season. Despite only registering a best finish of 12th during his brief GP3 stint, Regalia is confident the he will make a difference as the series embarks upon what is effectively a new formula.
Having already tested GP2 machinery with iSport and Racing Engineering last year, the 21-year-old commented, “I’m really happy. The last three months were pretty busy to close this deal. It’s a pleasure to become an official ART Grand Prix driver, because I know that I’ll have a very good package for fighting for the results what we have in sight.”
He added, “we’ve an excellent working team and everything is set to aim for the best possible results. Another great novelty is the new car with new aerodynamic kit, more power, new brakes, so this challenge is even greater.”

Carlin also added a second driver to their line-up when they announced Sá Silva. A successful spell in the Formula Pilota China Series in 2011, the Angolan endured a “difficult” term in the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2012, often lingering near the rear of a tight competitive field {note 2}.
Of his move, the excitable Sá Silva remarked, “I am so excited to race against some of the best drivers in Europe […] and represent Angola to the best of my abilities and I know that with Carlin I have a great package with which to do that.”
Team boss Trevor Carlin added, “Luis is a very welcome addition to our team and we’re delighted with how he’s interacted with the team already. It’s very exciting to be involved with a project such as the Angolan Driver Development Programme, in that we’re working with a country that hasn’t traditionally had a strong motorsport history before” {note 3}.
It is believed Carlin may announce a third driver at some stage this week, who may happen to be British and from a higher tier Formula Renault Series.

Although Gómez Briceno (who races simply as Samin Gómez) gave away her 2013 intentions in an interview last August, it was finally confirmed on Friday that she will be running with Jenzer Motorsport this season.
Gómez, who turned 21 two weeks ago, has previously competed with Jenzer, albeit in the Formula Abarth European Series, where she claimed two podiums places on her way to 7th in the standings.
Samin took part in the post-season test at the end of last year during which she ran in the now defunct GP3/10 machine.

Meanwhile, according to Autosport {note 4}, ex-Formula Two racer and European F3 Open champion Alex Fontana will also slot in at Jenzer this season.
Having competed with the Swiss squad at Spa-Francorchamps and the Hungaroring last year, Fontana told TheMotorsportArchive.com at the time that he was looking forward to make the switch to GP3 with Jenzer should the funding be secured {note 5}.
The addition of Fontana and Gomez to Jenzer means they are the third GP3 team behind MW Arden and Koiranen GP to secure a full line-up.

As an aside former Formula Renault BARC competitor Josh Webster is to drive at the official GP3 Series test at Estoril this week. It has not yet been revealed which team he will be testing with, although the Englishman tweeted over the weekend that his 2013 “team announcement will follow in [a] week” {note 6}.
Keen eyes will be on this test to see how the 19-year-old copes with the jump from an entry level BARC Renault car to a GP3 Series machine. This week’s GP3 Series testing gets under way on Wednesday and concludes on Friday.

{note 1}
Somewhere along the lines, it appears as if Lotus have become ART Grand Prix again. Or may be they are now Lotus-ART GP again? Or possibly ART-Lotus GP..? Or… or… or..? This will eventually be filed under “I swear it was not like that last week.”

{note 2}
Sá Silva ended the Formula Pilota China Series a distant runner-up to Mathéo Tuscher, just staying ahead of Dustin Sofyan at the final round in Sepang (Malaysia). The F3 Euro Series proved a far more difficult prospect, with the Angolan managing a top ten finish just twice in twenty-one starts, leaving him 14th and last of the regular runners in the standings.

{note 3}
While Carlin is correct in that Angola is not especially known for its motorsport heritage, Sá Silva does come from the town of Benguela which is one of very few in the country with a racing track – well, it did… kind of.
The circuit, known as the Autódromo de Benguela, was a touring car circuit opening in the early 1970s, before being abandoned a short time later. Motor cycling returned to the mostly dust covered track in 2001, but by the middle of the last decade, the circuit was officially no longer operation; although a number of unconfirmed illegal race events are thought to still take place there.
For more information, do have a look at this piece from TheMotorsportArchive.com, written in 2010.

{note 4}
“Alex Fontana to contest 2013 GP3 Series with Jenzer” (Autosport; Jamie O’Leary)

{note 5}
Fontana was also named as part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team, alongside Marco Sorensen (Denmark) and Marlon Stockinger (Philippines), both Formula Renault 3.5; Oscar Tunjo (Colombia), Esteban Ocon (France) and Alexander Albon (Thailand), all Eurocup Formula Renault; and Dorian Boccolacci (France) who is to compete in the KF category in Go Kart International.

{note 6}
It was at no time specified by Webster – or anybody else for that matter – what team he would end up with at the test or for this season. Gut feeling? Maybe Atech CRS. Maybe, although I have been known to be wrong before.

2013 GP3 Series grid (as of February 17th)
ART GP:          Jack Harvey, Facu Regalia, tba
MW Arden:        Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz Jr, Robert Visoiu
Carlin:          Eric Lichtenstein, Luis sa Silva, tba
Jenzer:          Patric Niederhauser, Alex Fontana, Samin Gomez
Marussia Manor:  tba, tba, tba
Status GP:       Jimmy Eriksson, tba, tba
Atech CRS:       tba, tba, tba
Trident:         Emanuele Zonzini, David Fumanelli, tba
Koiranen GP:     Kevin Korjus, Aaro Vainio, Patrick Kujala
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