Bart Horsten Denied Potential Victory In Promising BRDC British F3 Opener
Australian racer Bart Horsten outlined himself as a serious title contender for the 2021 BRDC British F3 Championship, picking up a top-four finish in the season opener at Brands Hatch GP circuit this past weekend (22/23 May) with new team, Hitech GP.
A consistent frontrunner and three-time podium finisher last year, Horsten - backed by The Web Guys, Time and More UK with Briston Watches and Sim Rigs UK - was cruelly denied a potential first British F3 win at the Kent circuit as he battled at the sharp end all weekend.
Looking to utilise his experience in the Tatuus chassis from a competitive pre-season testing programme, the 19-year-old from Perth got to grips with changeable weather conditions throughout Friday testing and Saturday's free practice outing.
Second fastest in practice, Horsten battled for a front row spot for much of the 20-minute qualifying session, held in dry conditions. Following a red flag interruption late on, a dash to improve his lap time was scuppered by traffic on his best lap, limiting him to a race one grid position of fifth.
A rapid getaway when the lights went out to start the weekend's first race later that afternoon allowed Horsten to leapfrog Roberto Faria at Druids, settling into fourth place where he would remain until the chequered flag at a circuit notoriously hard to overtake around in single seaters.
Horsten's second-best qualifying lap was strong enough to put him higher on the grid for race two in third, and a demon start allowed him to charge through the middle of the front row starters and challenge pole man Ayrton Simmons around the outside into turn one. He continued the fight up to Druids, out-braking his rival before his race was over in a flash as Simmons' car climbed over and onto Horsten's rear wing.
Putting the setback to one side, a great job by Horsten's mechanics ensured the car would make the full reversed grid final race, for which the Aussie started from 15th on the grid with a point to prove.
The EP Warmfloor, Carl Ford Accountancy and Kapow! Your Personal Brand and Business Coach-backed driver again made progress, evading an incident on lap one to come through just outside the top 10 as the safety car emerged.
On the restart, Horsten again moved forward and into the top 10 with a bold move around the outside of Tom Lebbon at Westfield Bend, before improving a further two spots to seal eighth place and more crucial points towards his title charge.
Bart Horsten:"A mixed weekend I'd say, but I really enjoy driving the track. I learnt a lot and I already feel comfortable with Hitech GP on my first race weekend with them.
"I'm 100 per cent certain we can fight for the title this season. It felt controlled this weekend - sometimes we didn't have the pace, and we managed to pick up a P4 which was pretty good.
"Qualifying was not the best, and maybe we should have thrown new tyres at it. We were one of the quickest cars out on track. I was happy with the race two start, but of course you have a bit of contact and bad repercussions from that, but in the last race we did what we could.
"I know what I need to fix, and I drove a good race in race three. It's hard to overtake here, but it'll be better at Silverstone. Hitech are good there, and a lot of positives to take from it."
Horsten and his Hitech GP team next take the trip to Silverstone in a month's time (26/27 June) hoping to continue their title chase.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.