- Dan Mason
Pole, Victory And New Lap Record For Douglas Motorsport At Donington Park
Douglas Motorsport enjoyed a superb weekend in the third GB3 Championship meeting of 2022 at Donington Park, with Max Esterson helping the squad clinch its first race victory of the campaign and breaking the circuit's lap record along the way.
After another promising performance in the second meeting of the season at the start of the month, the team headed to Leicestershire eyeing more silverware with Max Esterson, Tommy Smith and the returning Marcos Flack.
That optimism was heightened after two days of testing leading up to the weekend, as American ace Esterson put his Douglas Motorsport car fastest heading into Saturday, with times lowering the official track record for the newest GB3 Championship Tatuus MSV-022 chassis.
With momentum on their side, the team looked ahead to qualifying on Saturday morning with sights set on repeating that performance. The short and sharp timed session was competitive throughout, and a blistering end to proceedings from Esterson put his car fourth on the grid for race one, with the bragging rights of pole position for the second race of the weekend based on second-fastest times.
When the lights went out for race one later that afternoon, Esterson held a watching brief on the opening lap as an incident broke out ahead of him at McLeans corner, moving him into the top three. A mature drive was enough to confirm his position, earning a second podium of the season for Douglas Motorsport along with the fastest lap of the race for good measure. Flack and Smith recovered well to 11th and 13th place respectively - the latter gaining five spots from qualifying.
The team had their chance to add an even better outcome in the weekend's second race the following morning. Esterson made great use of his pole position as a fine start and defensive effort into the opening corner ensured he could hang onto the lead. Setting fastest lap once again along the way, Esterson drove a faultless race at the head of the field to bring home his first GB3 win, and the first of the season for the team.
The final race of the weekend featured a reversed grid based on qualifying results. Australian racer Smith was advantaged by this, starting from fourth on the grid after finishing 21st in race two, while his compatriot Flack started ninth after picking up 14th in the second contest.
Smith bravely fought his way up into third place in the early stages of the race ahead of Mikkel Grundtvig, and his pace confirmed that he was a podium contender. Despite taking the flag a comfortable third on the road, a time penalty for a false start cruelly dropped him back to fifth place, denying him a second podium of the season. Esterson meanwhile charged forward throughout the contest to end the race a credible 11th by the flag, while Flack unfortunately finished 17th after a trip to the pits.
Esterson ends the weekend third in the championship, with Douglas Motorsport sitting fifth in the Teams' standings as the series next heads to Snetterton on 25/26 June.
Wayne Douglas - Team Principal: "A really brilliant weekend for us. Max has been rapid all week and it's fantastic to see us get the reward on Sunday with a pole position, race win, fastest laps and a new lap record in testing with the new car. It shows that we're doing everything right as a team that we can do, and that's a testament to all the guys here."
Max Esterson: "A first podium and first win feels great for us as a team. I'm really happy with that weekend and now up to third in the points!"
Tommy Smith: "It had been a tough weekend but practice went well. Qualifying I didn't quite put together, and it was very close all down the field. I gave it my best in mid-pack, but from the front in the third race I felt like we had good pace and I ran third throughout which was more like it."
Marcos Flack: "The reverse grid race was a bit of a disappointment, but if you reflect on the weekend I feel that I managed to still pick up some crucial points for the team, which is positive. I have some things to work on with myself, but the team have been strong."
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.