Lloyds TSB Insurance has signed up as the title sponsor of the 2006 British Formula 3 (F3) motor racing series, which starts later this month.
The insurance provider will back the 22-race series, which tours Italy, France, Belgium and Ireland, as well as taking in major British circuits such as Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
The Stephane Ratel Organisation (SRO), the promoter for the F3 series, says: “To have a household name as the title sponsor is a major coup for the series, and will help promote the original and dynamic qualities of the British F3 series to a much wider audience.”
Launched in the 1960s, the British F3 series is considered by many to be the training ground for aspiring Formula 1 (F1) drivers: of the 22 current F1 drivers, nine have competed in F3, including Jenson Button and David Coulthard.
Meanwhile, SRO is also in talks with four potential backers, including two past F1 sponsors, over the title sponsorship of its GT racing series, thought to be worth about &£5m.
Now in its fifth season, GT racing features specially adapted cars – from companies such as Aston Martin, Maserati and Ferrari – competing in three-hour endurance races.
The sport claims to have a global audience of more than 200 million, and in 1997 became the third series (after F1 and the World Rally Championship) to be officially endorsed by motorsport’s governing body, Federation Internationale de l’Automobile.
SRO is currently bidding for the series to become a World Championship in 2007, by adding races in the US, Australia and Japan.