Nelson Piquet will turn the clock back 25 years at Silverstone on Monday [26 May] when he is re-united with the Ralt RT1 F3 car that took him to the 1978 BP Formula 3 Championship in Britain.

The triple world champion is back in Britain over-seeing his son Nelson Junior contest the 2003 British F3 Championship gripped by Avon Tyres, and will watch the 17-year old drive some demonstration laps in the famous racing car.

Back in 1978, Piquet was in his second season of racing in Europe having competed in the Italian F3 series in 1977. When he decided to order a new Ralt RT1 for the '78 British season, he set himself on his way to Grand Prix stardom.

Designed by Ron Tauranac, the former partner of Sir Jack Brabham, the Ralt RT1 was the F3 car to beat back in 1978 and Piquet [in chassis number 131] battled hard with the similar car of Derek Warwick for the pair of F3 titles of the day. Eventually, Piquet took the BP crown and Warwick won the Vandervell title. Before the season was over, Piquet made his Grand Prix debut and went on to compete in four F1 races that year.

The early Ralts were built by Maurice Gomm at his Gomm Metal company in Surrey. So when Piquet's car came onto the market in 1980, Gomm's son Francis couldn't resist buying the car for just ?1500. In those days there was no race series for older F3 cars, but when the Toyota F3 category was introduced in the mid-80s, the Ralt was ideally suited.

Maintaining the car in the original Piquet colours and carrying the familiar sponsors' names of Brastemp and Arno, Gomm has raced the car just about every season since then, contesting around 50 races over a period of 16 seasons. It remains very original in just about every way and is now racing with the Historic Sports Car Club in what has evolved into the Classic F3 Championship.

It was in May 1978 that Piquet took the car to victory at Mallory Park in what was the first in a sequence of seven race wins that formed the foundations of his championship victory.

This is currently a busy period for Francis Gomm and his famous car. He was racing at Silverstone on Saturday 17 May when he finished second in the Classic F3 category. He will race it again at Mallory on Sunday 25 May before taking the car to Silverstone the following day for its appointment with its famous former owner.