Rising young racer Dillon Battistini had his first taste of a high-tech Formula Three car in a test recently - and proved to be immediately on the pace, impressing his team and observers with both his speed and attitude.

Having come a close second in the Caterham R400 series this year, Dillon, from Epsom in Surrey, has his sights set on competing in the British Formula Three Championship next year, and the early signs are that he could become a force in the competitive series.

The Snetterton circuit in Norfolk, with several high-speed corners, was not the easiest circuit for Dillon to try the rapid single-seater for the first time, but with leading Formula Three team Promatecme in support, he was soon right on the pace of the other racers testing that day.

"It was my first time in a Formula Three car," explained 25-year-old Dillon, "and I was ok with how quick the car was in a straight line, but in the corners the down-force was incredible. It was very different to the Caterham I have been racing this year, and I was lapping Snetterton ten seconds quicker in the F3 car.

"I hadn't driven a single-seater for three years, and the F3 car is very technical, so it was great to work with the team on all the data. The Promatecme engineers were superb; they were listening to me and also giving advice from what they could see in the data. By the afternoon I was flat on the throttle in all the parts of the circuit where I was supposed to be, and I was right on the pace of my team-mate for the day - and he is a Formula Three champion.

"The whole test was really enjoyable, and the feedback from the team on my performance was really positive. It's really whetted my appetite for next year, and I can't wait to get back in the car again."

"Dillon impressed us immensely," said Promatecme team principal Chris Weller. "He did a really good job, settled into the car straight away, and even got the car away first time - usually new drivers stall a couple of times. He quickly got the hang of the car and did a very impressive an professional test - faultless in every way."

Working behind the scenes to make sure Dillon gets the chance to show what he can do on the Formula Three stage next season is his manager Don Palmer. Impressed by the commitment, talent and ability he has seen in him, Don, an internationally known driving coach, has put all his experience firmly behind the young racer, and aims to help Dillon reach the highest levels.

"We felt that if Dillon could get in the car and be within two seconds of the fastest pace on the day we'd be impressed," explained Don after the test, "and to be within one second would show real talent. To be just under half a second off the time of someone with two seasons and 60,000 miles of Formula Three experience was something very special. It's too early to compare Dillon with the great racing drivers, but his attitude and commitment are coupled with natural talent - and that makes him a very rare combination.

"He has impressed on his first outing in an F3 car, and the plan is to now build a winning season in the British F3 Championship - and that means we have to work hard to put the budget together to enable him to do the job. We have in place a highly effective and proven promotional package that pays the right sort of investor returns of the order of 20:1, and this will finance Dillon's early career."

The British Formula Three Championship is seen as an important career step for drivers aiming for the very top in motorsport. The cars teach drivers the intricacies of set-up and handling they need to compete at the highest level, while the opportunity to race with the very best means a true talent can really shine. Jenson Button proved that you can go from the British Formula Three Championship straight into Formula One, and all the Grand Prix greats learnt their craft in Formula Three.

 

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