Australian racer Bart Horsten fought forward in the latest trio of BRDC British F3 Championship races from Donington Park’s national circuit this past weekend (24/25 October), claiming a top seven result and making up a total of 17 places with a fine display of overtaking.
The Perth youngster was unfortunate not to leave his third visit to the Leicester circuit this season with better results after a weather-affected meeting, in which torrential rain on Saturday meant all three races were held on Sunday in a variety of conditions.
Hoping to kick on with the experience and data gained from two visits to Donington Park in the past two months, Horsten settled into top-10 pace throughout two days of testing prior to the weekend, knowing that Saturday’s qualifying session could be one of the closest of the season on the shorter 1.9-mile national layout.
That prediction proved to be accurate, and Horsten immediately pumped in a quick lap to move into the top six in the early minutes. The 20-minute session remained a lottery until the final lap and the Lanan Racing man finished 14th overall, only half a second from pole position.
The weather worsened later in the afternoon, leading to the opening race being called off for safety reasons and an early start on a greasy, drying track on Sunday morning. The conditions opened up an opportunity to gamble on slicks, and Horsten was one of three drivers to take the call for that drier compound for the opening contest.
Climbing to 11th place after an incident ahead of him on lap one, the Young Racing Driver Academy star battled hard with his fellow slick-shod rivals for ninth place, hoping for the track to dry out as the wet runners escaped. The track dried, but not quickly enough unfortunately to make a difference as Horsten took the flag 11th with his times tumbling right at the death.
It did however look promising for race two’s reverse grid, but the three slick runners (Horsten included) were forced to start from the back due to their improving times not making it under the 103% best time rule.
Horsten was therefore forced to start the second race from the back rather than pole position, but he showed fight to charge through the field early on. Moving up four spots initially, he then carved his way into the top 10 in a manner similar to his charge at the longer GP circuit back in August. Despite slipping to 12th briefly, he fought back to displace his rivals and move back into 10th place where he remained at the flag.
With the final race grid decided by second fastest times, Horsten again had to get his elbows out to make progress from the eighth row of the grid. The Lanan car shot up the order on the opening lap to move into 11th place, before making another place on the following lap to climb inside the top 10. His progress continued in the closing laps to take seventh place, ensuring a strong finish to the day after making up a combined 17 positions over the weekend.
The results mean Horsten sits 10th in the championship standings with just three more races remaining in the 2020 BRDC British F3 season, which take place in two weeks’ time on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit on 7/8 November.
Bart Horsten: "It took a while, but the car finally turned on for me on Sunday and allowed me to really get stuck in and enjoy the races, and make up some ground.
"We felt we could have been higher up but we weren't quick enough in the wet, and we were unfortunate to be put to the back for race two when we felt we were going to be on pole. I think a few minutes later in that first race, we would have started lapping quicker than the wet runners.
"We were on used tyres and showed good pace after. I was able to make up a few places and then suddenly in the last race the car felt great. I really felt like we were back to the pace we knew we had and could look forward and get on with the job, so that was a good finish to the day.
"I'm looking forward to Silverstone as it's got some good fast sections, but also places to pass people. We'll go testing there soon and that's where we can work on the car to get it ready for the final weekend. I want to get straight into the top five ideally when we arrive for that last weekend and hopefully it will be a good one."
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.