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Sharing the Passion: Father and Son Race Each Other in Historic F3

Submitted by on October 24, 2018

During the 2018 Historic Grand Prix at Zandvoort our European correspondent Marcel Hundscheid had the opportunity to interview Italian racing driver Valerio Leone and his son Davide. Both race genuine Formula 3 cars from the late 70s and early 80s. In this article we focus on the pair’s racing careers and have a closer look on the March 783 and Ralt RT3.

Monaco-domiciled Italian Valerio Leone retired after 37 years of hard work. Nowadays he enjoys life and shares his passion for historic motorsport with his son Davide.

Valerio started his racing career back in 1997 driving both touring cars and sports cars. He raced modern cars until 2007, but began trying his hand at historic Formula 3 in 2004 and single-seater racing quickly became his real passion.

At his first event at Spa he won the morning race. Unfortunately during the second race his brother got involved in an accident that forced Valerio to stop for a few months and forget about historic racing.

During the interview I asked Valerio why he choose to get involved into historic racing.

“With modern cars there’s too much focus on strategy, development of aerodynamics and engine which ends up to higher costs and less driving enjoyment.”

“With historic cars it’s only you and the car. From the moment you are on the grid ready to start and until the end of the race, no one can give you advice or suggestion, there are no engineers with radio equipment, no electronic aids, nothing at all. It’s just you and the car and that sensation of real driving” – Valerio Leone

Presently Valerio races a March 783 Formula 3 car from 1978.

Max Mosley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker and Robin Herd founded March in 1969. A single F3 car, the March 693, was built in 1969 and driven by Ronnie Peterson. It was followed by the announcement that they would be introducing F1, F2, F3 and Formula Ford single-seaters as well as Can-Am racing cars.

March also ran F1, F2 and F3 works teams and although they never managed to build an outright Formula 1 winner, the company produced a string of highly competitive F2 and F3 cars.

Valerio’s March 783/13 was a light updated version of earlier models and was used as a F3 car and also driven in the European Formula Super Vee championship.

March built 11 chassis and Valerio races chassis nr. 13 which was driven by Teo Fabi back in 1978. Fabi used two chassis in 1978, 783/13 and 783/16. The only difference between both cars was the roll bar. His car wears the original livery used by Astra Racing Team in that particular year.

The car is equipped with a 2-liter Toyota engine, prepared by Novamotor from Italy. The Toyota Novamotor F3-engine was born due to the fact that back in 1974 engine capacity was increased to 2.0 liter, however the use of an intake restrictor was mandatory.

The engine was based on Toyota’s 1600 cc engine and the F3 variant was developed by the Pedrazzani brothers’ Novamotor operation by increasing bore and stroke to 1997 cc, accompagnied by a Bosch/Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection. As a result the power increased from 125 to 170 bhp.

The March 783 could also use engines from Volkswagen, Alfa Romeo and Triumph. Volkswagen-equipped 783s only raced in the Formula Super Vee.

Davide Leone’s racing career is rather short in comparison to his father Valerio. Nonetheless, he has managed to score several victories and podium finishes. In 2011 and 2012 he got his first taste of racing when he participated just for fun in two races of the F3 Classic series. It would be a few years until 2016, when racing started to get more serious for him.

In 2016 and 2017 his racing career kicked off in earnest and he participated in the Novamotor European Trophy scoring his first victory and no less than 7 podium finishes. He finished fourth in the overall Novamotor Trophy Ranking, quite impressive as it was his first real taste of racing. Until now he scored 2 victories in 2018 and a single podium finish in the Novamotor European Trophy.

Davide’s car is a Ralt RT3 chassis number 405. Ron Tauranac founded Ralt (representing Ron and his brother Austin Lewis Tauranac) back in 1974 as a manufacturer of single-seaters used in F2, F3 and Formula Atlantic. The RT3 from 1983 turned out to be one of the most successful F3 cars built and dominated both the British and European F3 championships from 1979 to 1984.

The Ralt RT3 was introduced in 1979 and meant to replace the earlier RT1 and RT2. As March offered customers a choice between different engines Ralt did the same. Ralt F3 cars could be equipped with engines from Alfa Romeo, Toyota and Volkswagen.

The Ralt RT3 turned out as one of the most successful F3 cars in history. Back in 1983 Ayrton Senna claimed the British F3 championship racing a Ralt RT3-Toyota Novamotor scoring 12 victories out of 20 races.

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