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British F3
Gabby Chaves looking forward to 2010
Gaby Chavez in 2007 when we first spotted him racing in a support race to Champ Car
December is considered the Holiday season and in the world of racing, of rest. It is probably one of the few moments during the year when very few competitions take place and the racing world stops. 

However, this is not for everyone. At least not for the driver Gabby Chaves (16), who after conquering the F-BMW Americas title has continued his progress looking forward to the following step in the competitive world of auto racing. 

After receiving his Championship Award in Germany, Chaves tested with West-Tec, Campos Racing and Hitech Teams. He quickly adapted to the cars and to the new speeds and power that they offer. All of these teams compete in Europe in the Formula 3 Championships. Without making any mistakes, his times were very competitive and they could be compared to drivers who are more experienced with these cars and circuits.

"These tests are another step for me,” said Chaves. "They are part of the process, not the final goal. I still have things to learn and I will continue working hard to achieve all the goals I want to accomplish. In the next few days we will decide what step we will follow in 2010. I feel very excited about having the possibility of competing with major teams in international series of such quality.”

The first round of testing for Chaves was done at Snetterton (England) with West-Tec, which competes in the F-3 Euro Open and British F-3 Championships.

"I enjoyed the balance of fast and slow corners in this circuit,” said Chaves. "It was my first time driving an F-3 and I feel that I adapted quickly to the increase in speed and power that I was used to in Formula BMW.”

The team was greatly surprised with Chaves' test and after reviewing his data and video footage,  they showed interest in having him for the 2010 season. 

”We believe Gabby is the ‘real deal’ and we very much want to sign him for 2010. We have already signed some drivers, who are good, and Gabby would be an excellent part of the team.”

Only a few days later, Chaves travelled to Spain for a two-day test in a Dallara F-306  with Campos Racing Team, owned by the former Formula 1 driver, Adrián Campos.

"First, I tested the F-306 for two days. After that, I went to Barcelona to test with Hitech and later came back to Cheste for an additional day of testing with Campos Racing, but this time with an F-308.

“In the end, I had three days with Campos Racing and for each of them there were different weather conditions and I had to quickly adapt to them,” recognized Chaves. "It was my first time in the Cheste circuit, which  is very technical and the team provided me with very good information. I learned all I could from the engineers and I gave my best to get everything I could from each session.”

After the first day, the team wrote the following in their report: "Even though the differences with the Formula BMW of power, grip, aerodynamics and inertia are obvious, the driver assimilated the demands of the car without suffering physically at all.” It also adds, "In his first session, he was only five tenths behind the best time for a European F3 Open race car. For his first 55 minutes driving an F-3, the fact is that he has shown to be a driver with a great quality of adaptation. Another highlight was that in his third session, while using new tires in his Dallara F-306, he was able to place first in the Spanish Championship, even ahead of his teammates, who were driving Dallara F-308 cars, generally much more efficient.”

From then on, the results kept getting better and better. In the second day, Chaves obtained second place among the cars of the European F3 Open, only seven tenths of a second behind his teammate, Felix Rosenqvist, who had new tires and was driving a better equipped Dallara F-308.

A few days later, Chaves got to drive the Dallara F-308 car that is used in the "A" Series of the European Championship. Once again, the report from the Team's Coordinator, José Piera, was clear: "The adaptation to the F-308 was no problem for the driver. The main difference with the Dallara F-306, which he drove during the first two days, is the chassis. The engine, the power and the tires are the same in both models. However the Dallara F-308 has a better development in dynamics and mainly in aerodynamics which makes it be more effective and faster, especially in fast corners."

Piera also added, "Definitely, we believe that with a good testing program to polish some small details, Gabby could challenge and probably be successful for the European Open F3 first position. Talent, competitiveness, maturity, willingness to learn, adaptation, confidence, humility, are among others, strong qualities that we have seen with this driver, who is only 16 years old. We are very satisfied that we had the possibility of testing this driver and I personally believe that he will have a long and successful career.” 

Taking full advantage of the time, while in between sessions with Campos Racing, Chaves travelled to Barcelona in order to drive in front of the successful British team, Hitech. 

"It was a test with challenges,” mentioned Chaves with his usual tranquility and maturity. "It took a long time to adjust the car seat and I never felt 100% comfortable in the short period of time that I drove the car. But I learned a great deal. We had no radio communication between the car and the pits, so the only way to get commands was from the pit wall.” 

Hitech was impressed with the young driver's performance, which despite his young age, his name is already being heard around the Formula 1 circles. 

”I have to say that we were nervous that he would be frustrated by the delay and would make a mistake trying to make up for the lost time but this never materialized which was a good start,” mentioned Ryan Sharp, the team's director, in his final report.  “Gabby's track awareness in the car was great. From the first run he was watching situations with traffic and never wasted any time by starting laps when clearly they were going to be ruined by slower cars. “

"(Speed) is not going to be a problem for Gabby as he showed he was more than capable of taking in everything he required (…).This along with the pace he showed was very encouraging.  I have to say that to be within touching distance of William Buller (who has both raced in Barcelona and now has some 18 days of F3 testing under his belt) on his first visit to Barcelona and his first test in British F3 car was very impressive.”

"Hitech would be very proud to have Gabby and the team as part of their family and would do everything in their power to help him develop into the great racing driver he is determined to be.”

Chaves, with his next goal in mind, kept practicing during the Holidays and is grateful of the opportunity to have tested with three of the best teams in F3. "We have to keep working,” said Chaves. "I had a wonderful 2009 thanks to the support of my family, friends and sponsors, and I am confident that the next year will be filled with successes.”

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