1984 Ralt RT3 Alfa Romeo: the last groundeffect F3

Former Formula One driver and team manager Louis Perez-Sala from Spain made his formula racing debut in the 1984 FIA European Formula 3 Championship. In his debut season Perez-Sala finished on the podium in Sweden racing this Alfa Romeo-powered Ralt RT3; the last ‘ground effect‘ Formula Three car.

The RT3 was Ralt’s answer to the development of junior formula racers using F1-derived ground effect; the art of creating a low pressure area underneath the car which causes the atmospheric pressure to push the car to the ground, creating more grip. It had a reinforced aluminium monocoque chassis with inboard suspension, making room for huge side-pods with wing-shaped floors to generate the ground effect-aerodynamics. Its 4-cylinder 2-litre engine from Alfa Romeo, Toyota or Volkswagen produced around 165 horsepower.

Louis Perez-Sala went on to win races in both F3 and F3000 before making his F1-debut in 1988 alongside his countryman Adrián Campos, making the Minardi Formula One Team the first to have a full Spanish line-up in Formula One. In 1989 Perez-Sala became the first Spanish driver to score F1 world championship points in 30 years. After his retirement he briefly returned to F1 in 2011 to become team manager for HRT, the Spanish F1 team founded by his former team mate Campos.

Perez-Sala wasn’t the only Formula One driver to have raced the Ralt RT3 in the early stages of their career. Ayrton Senna won his first ever F3 race in one and in 1983 the future Brazilian F1 legend won the British Formula Three Championship driving an RT3-Toyota. In the same year future F1-driver and Le Mans winner Pierluigi Martini from Italy won the European Formula Three title in an Alfa Romeo-powered RT3. Martin Brundle, Gerhard Berger and Ronnie Peterson were other big names to contribute to the RT3‘s reputation as one of the most successful cars in F3-history. Ralt built a total of 168 RT3s between 1979 and 1985. From 1985, following growing concerns about speeds, new F3-legislation banned the wing-shaped floors, making Perez-Sala’s RT3 one of the last ground effect Formula Three cars.

The ex Louis Perez-Sala 1984 Ralt RT3 Alfa Romeo will be raced during the TABAC Classic GP Assen in the AvD Historic Race Cup by the 2020 and 2021 AvD champion Elio Cocciarelli from Italy. Germans Daniel Hornung and Jochem Sihorsch will race a 1983 ex Jo Zeller RT3-Toyota and an ex Eric Bachelard 1984 RT3-VW Brabham Judd respectively.

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