Rookie sensation John Bennett kicked off his first season in single-seaters in style with a pair of top-five finishes on a spectacular opening meeting of the 2022 GB3 Championship at Oulton Park over the Easter weekend (16-18 April).
The Salisbury-based youngster - making the switch from the Ginetta GT5 Challenge - shone on his first weekend in the championship as he made the adjustment to single-seater racing seem effortless with consistent top-10 pace throughout.
Part of the Motorsport UK Academy Futures programme, Bennett gave his competitors a taste of his potential during two days of pre-race weekend testing, putting the Elite Motorsport Tatuus MSV-022 GB3 car inside the top 10 ahead of Saturday morning's qualifying session.
That pace transferred to the crucial timed session, Bennett putting himself in the mix for strong results with times good enough for eighth and sixth on the grid for the opening two races, only eight tenths of a second from pole position against proven race winners.
A rapid launch from the grid when the lights went out to start race one moved Bennett up two spots as he also narrowly negotiated an incident directly ahead of him. This put him up into sixth place, where he stayed until the last lap when he picked up yet another place to finish fifth.
It was an impressive start for the rookie, backed by J5C Management Limited, StreetSharp Ltd and The Accounting Centre Ltd, who would then line up in sixth place for the second race of the meeting on Monday.
Bennett attacked from the moment race two began, and once again gained ground to put himself in the running for a solid top-five finish. Keeping pace with the cars ahead of him, he made it two top-five finishes in two with another big haul of points to boot.
The Khan Thornton Ltd, Lonetree Limited, Lewco Holdings Limited-backed driver then had to fight from 11th as a result of the reversed grid for the final race of the weekend, holding his own on a frenetic opening lap to hold off Elite team-mate James Hedley.
The fight between the pair continued for the rest of the 14-lap contest, with Bennett defending his spot inside the top 10 after gaining further places within a squabbling train of cars tussling over track position. Gaining a place to ninth thanks to a rival's post-race penalty, he ended a fine debut weekend with three top-10 finishes.
A healthy haul of points not only left Bennett and Elite Motorsport with smiles on their faces, but he would leave Oulton Park sitting third in the Drivers' Championship as his reward.
John Bennett: "For my first ever weekend racing in single-seaters, to be one of the top rookies and right up there inside the top 10 in every race has been a great way to start the season.
"I came into the weekend with nothing to lose really as a rookie with little experience in these cars, but we showed great pace in testing and then qualifying to be up in the mix. I just wanted to keep out of trouble in the first race and get a good result on the board.
"I got a great start in the first race, then I was in the right place to avoid the accidents on lap one. That put me safe and that was the race for me which was a good start to the season. Our pace was good again in race two and that gave us another top five result.
"In the final race, we started further back due to the reverse grid but fought hard, and ended with another top ten finish. It's a great start to the season, so I'm looking forward to more of the same hopefully when we get to Silverstone!"
After a fantastic start to the season, Bennett and his Elite Motorsport team head to the 'Home of British Motor Racing' on 7-8 May as the GB3 Championship's next three races take place at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.