Basil Shaaban to open F3 Euro Series run, backed by Shell

The Arab world’s leading Formula 3 racing driver, Basil Shaaban, gets his challenge for honours in the 2009 Formula 3 Euro Series underway at the Hockenheim Baden-Württemberg circuit in Germany this weekend (May 15th-17th).

The Shell-backed star joins Monagesque Stefano Coletti and Italian Matteo Chinosi in three Prema Powerteam-run and Italian-built Dallara Mercedes-Benz F308/9s in the 20-race series. The Hockenheim race marks the start of the Lebanese driver’s third season in the prestigious F1 feeder series.

“This season I’ve captured a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in a top team in a top F1-ladder championship,” enthused Shaaban, who has carried out private test sessions with his team in recent weeks to ensure that they are fully prepared for the demanding challenge of 20 races in the F3 Euro Series calendar.

Oxford-based Shaaban is hungry for success this year, but realises that competition will be fierce, with teams and drivers closely matched in terms of capabilities and performance. “I must maintain a focused and measured approach towards performing at 100% each lap during qualifying and the races.”

The top eight in the overall classification will score points during Saturday’s opening race at the testing 4.574km German circuit, with points being awarded for the top six finishers in Sunday’s second race. “With a best finish of 12th in my last two seasons of F3 Euro Series, I’m yet to score points,” admitted Shaaban. “Achieving this is one of my primary goals in 2009.”

Shaaban and the Prema Powerteam will test for 90 minutes tomorrow (Friday) morning, before they are permitted a further one hour of official free practice on Friday afternoon. The qualifying session takes place on Saturday morning.

“Hockenheim has historically been the first and last round of the F3 Euro Series,” says Shaaban. “I’ve raced there four times in my two seasons in the series. While I know the circuit very well and am quite strong in various sectors of the circuit, I have not had everything come together for me on the race weekends so far to deliver a powerful performance. I want that to change this weekend.”

The Lebanese driver admits that there are numerous fierce rivals this season. “ART Grand Prix are the defending champions and their drivers will be very strong,” he adds. “Mücke Motorsport, Manor Motorsport and my Prema Powerteam should also be in contention. But at this level of competition you cannot count anyone out.”

Shaaban has been busy away from the race circuit in the last week on another leg of his Middle East Road Safety Campaign in the UAE and Egypt. Egypt currently has the Middle East’s third-highest traffic fatality rate. Shaaban is a UN World Ambassador for Road Safety.

“I spoke at the UAE Ministry of Education, in conjunction with Shell’s Better Environment Awards, and in Egypt at the Library of Alexandria, the American University of Cairo, the British Council and to a widespread Egyptian media audience to further Road Safety awareness.”

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