- Dan Mason
John Bennett Matches Best Ever GB3 Championship Result At Brands Hatch
John Bennett scored a brilliant fourth place finish and climbed the GB3 Championship table during another hugely impressive outing for the single-seater rookie at Brands Hatch last weekend (10/11 September).
Bennett came into the penultimate weekend of an exceptional maiden GB3 campaign still sitting inside the top 10 in the championship standings, and hoped to further climb the table as the series tackled the full 2.3 mile Grand Prix layout at Brands Hatch.
Bennett, backed by J5C Management Limited, StreetSharp Ltd and The Accounting Centre Ltd, battled damp conditions in Friday’s four test sessions in preparation for the event, but was greeted with much kinder weather for Saturday’s crucial qualifying run. A strong showing throughout kept the Elite Motorsport youngster in the fight up front, and a fine lap late on jumped him up into the top five for one of his best qualifying results of the year.
Fifth became fourth for race one later that day following a grid penalty applied to another competitor ahead, and a maiden GB3 podium finish was suddenly well within Bennett’s grasp. The Motorsport UK Academy ace made an electric start to charge around the outside of Joel Granfors for third, however he was boxed in behind the squabbling leaders and fell back to fourth. From there, his pace was strong and a trouble-free drive ensured he matched his best result of the season.
Feeling confident after a great Saturday, the Thornton Ltd, Lonetree Limited and Lewco Holdings Limited-backed driver headed into Sunday’s two races wanting more positive results to celebrate and began race two in the morning from an equally lofty starting spot of fifth place - the grid formed from drivers’ second-best laps in qualifying.
Another lighting getaway gave him a run on the top four cars ahead of him, but as was the case in race one, he was boxed in behind the fighting pack and forced to back out, ultimately costing him a spot. Bennett continued to chase the cars ahead all the way home, adding another strong result to his season tally with sixth place.
It would be a tougher task with a reverse grid applied for the final race, leaving the Salisbury racer back in 16th for what would be a chaotic start to the action. Bennett narrowly evaded a sizeable shunt between two rivals behind him that would lead to a race stoppage, making up two places by the conclusion of the shortened race after an equally frenetic restart.
John Bennett: "I seem to be saying this a lot which is probably a good sign as a rookie, but I think that was my strongest weekend yet in the championship.
"The pace was really good when it mattered in the qualifying session, which was something I was very happy about considering I felt like we had struggled in the test sessions leading up to the weekend.
"Then in the first race it was a really good start which moved us briefly up into third place, but I got boxed in behind the leaders all fighting and that pushed me back to fourth place. It was then just about managing the pressure and keeping the gap and it was all good - my best result of the season so far as you feel that the races based on qualifying are the ones that really matter over reverse grids.
"Overall, all three races were good results for me and the points haul was a solid one to take away. Race three was a bit mad but we just about survived it intact. We now look towards the final round and Donington Park is a circuit I really enjoy so I'm hoping for a mega end to the year.
"It was a sombre weekend of course with the news we all heard regarding Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We as a family and a team continue to send our condolences to the Royal Family."
That final meeting of the GB3 Championship season will take place at Donington Park next month (15/16 October), with Bennett hopeful of finishing the year on a high having climbed the Drivers' Championship standings to eighth place.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.