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  • Simon Paice

John Bennett Shows Fighting Spirit With Abu Dhabi Comeback

A sensational recovery drive from 29th to 13th was the highlight of a luckless weekend for John Bennett in the second round of the 2024 Formula Regional Middle East Championship (19-21 January).

Bennett returned to Abu Dhabi for a second consecutive weekend of racing, hoping to put behind him some frustrating car issues that hampered his debut outing and enjoy a strong showing on the full Yas Marina Grand Prix circuit.

Producing very encouraging pace across the two test sessions on Thursday in his Evans GP machine, the Salisbury-based rising star put in an impressive performance in qualifying the next day. Making a step forward from the weekend prior, he secured 12th on the grid for the opening race.

Bennett wouldn’t be able to capitalise on the good starting position though, as a starter motor failure pre-race forced him to watch proceedings from the sidelines. There was double agony as well, as he would subsequently have to start from the back of the grid in 29th for race two.

Putting that frustration behind him, the 20-year-old talent rose to the challenge in superb fashion. Storming forward eight places through an incident-packed opening lap, he soon settled into the overall top 20.

Moving up to 17th before a safety car period, he made further progress after the restart. Keeping pressure on those ahead into the closing stages, he gained two more places on the final lap to complete his stunning charge forward in 13th.

Lining up 14th on the grid for the final race, Bennett shot forward two places on the opening lap. After a safety car period, he got stuck into some exciting wheel-to-wheel racing in the pack, however some unfortunate slight contact led to a high-speed spin across the track.

The talented racer was able to continue and another safety car spell allowed him to catch the back of the pack. His hopes of launching another recovery drive were dashed though as only one more racing lap played out before the chequered flag, leaving him back in 23rd.

John Bennett: “This weekend is a tough one to take. After some troubles in the opening rounds, we came back with a positive mindset and made some real improvements on circuit, however we just didn’t get the chance to truly showcase the pace that we have.

“I’d have liked to have been a bit higher in qualifying in truth, but 12th put me right in the mix for the top ten and the reverse grid for race two. Unfortunately, luck was against us with the car though and put me on the back foot for the second race.

“I’m proud of the drive I put in to battle up 16 places overall, and was trying to make more progress in the last one before the incident. While the race results might not have shown it, we know we have some good pace and now we head to Dubai just needing a clean weekend without things going against us.”

Bennett, who races with the support of J5C Management Limited, StreetSharp Ltd, The Accounting Centre Ltd, Khan Thornton Ltd, Lonetree Limited, Lewco Holdings Limited and Project Divebomb, now has a weekend off before heading to the Dubai Autodrome for the third round of the Formula Regional Middle East Championship season (02-04 February).

Image from Dutch Photo Agency.


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