- Dan Mason
Bart Horsten Denied Sensational Maiden GB3 Race Win At Oulton Park
Bart Horsten took his long-awaited maiden GB3 Championship race victory on the road in a spectacular contest in the penultimate meeting of the season at Oulton Park last weekend (11/12 September), but would be cruelly denied success by a red flag stoppage.
The teenage sensation from Perth had inherited the race two lead with two laps remaining when rivals ahead of him removed themselves at Old Hall corner in an incident, but a red flag stopped the race before the final lap, meaning the result was put back a lap to demote Horsten back to second spot.
Horsten entered the penultimate meeting of the season looking to climb the championship table and break into the top five at a circuit he claimed a maiden podium finish at in his series debut last year.
The 19-year-old, backed by The Web Guys and Time and More UK with Briston Watches, would be forced to play catch-up in terms of setting up the Hitech GP car after recovering from an electronic problem on Thursday morning, but soon showed his pace in mixed conditions over the two days and six test sessions prior to the weekend's action.
Threatening the top spot on Friday gave the former British F4 race winner optimism ahead of Saturday's qualifying session, which would be a fast and furious battle for grid positions. Horsten upped his pace in the second half of the session and put his Hitech-run Tatuus machine briefly onto the front row for both opening races with a sterling effort around the 2.69-mile International circuit.
The evolution of the circuit arrived late for Horsten who fell to fifth place as others bolted on newer tyres, but he still finished less than a tenth of a second from third on the grid in a hugely tight qualifying, moving up to the second row for race two.
The opening race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon proved a procession after a lively start. Horsten dived to the inside of Roberto Faria to attempt a position gain into Old Hall for the first time, but soon settled into fifth place where he would remain until the chequered flag, fending off fellow Aussie Christian Mansell and closing on Faria in the final laps of the 13 covered. A post-race boost for Horsten came when the second-placed driver was excluded from the results, inheriting fourth place in the process.
Horsten focused his attentions on the start of race two the following day with two new tyres bolted onto one side of the car to help his cause as the lights went out. He would have to settle for fourth initially, but an off ahead of him at Knickerbrook late on put him up onto the podium. What followed was even more dramatic as the Fortec Motorsport top two proceeded to head off track at Old Hall in their own battle, gifting Horsten the lead and what looked to be his first GB3 win.
Unfortunately, the officials would put the race result back a lap during the post-contest fallout, gifting one of Fortec's chargers the win over the Australian who had held off Mansell with one lap remaining before the red flags waved.
The EP Warmfloor, Carl Ford Accountancy, Camino Coaching and Kapow! Your Personal Brand and Business Coach-backed driver started the final race from 12th with the reverse grid in place, hoping to quash the myth that you can't overtake around Oulton Park. A superb start climbed him up into eighth place halfway around the first lap, but his race was soon ruined by contact at the first chicane, Horsten the victim as he spun to last place. A recovery drive followed, climbing to 14th by the race's conclusion to move him up to sixth in the championship.
Bart Horsten:“I guess it's a bit of a mixed weekend as we struggled a bit in practice and then weren't quite on the pace in qualifying. We still put in some decent laps to put us up the grid for races one and two.
"Race one was a bit of a procession; put the cars under pressure at the start but then you all hold station until the end, but it was a good result. Then in race two, obviously we had the win but on countback we were put back to second place which was still good for us. In the end I got to stand on the top of the podium, so I got all the perks of being the real winner. I think I'll take that one in my books which is a great result.
"The third race could have been a really good race after the start we had, but unfortunately a bit of contact was at one of those angles where you get hit and it spins you around. We got going again and past a lot of cars so it was a missed opportunity.
"We showed good pace, and now we go to Donington Park where we were awesome last time. We aren't chasing our tails heading there, so now it's down to me to get the job done and finish well."
Horsten's final GB3 Championship event of the season comes around in over a month's time, with a second visit to Donington Park rounding out his 2021 campaign over the weekend of 16/17 October.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.