Rising single-seater star John Bennett was in the thick of the action as he battled to more crucial points in the latest trio of GB3 Championsip races at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend (2-4 June).
The 19-year-old Rodin Carlin driver made the trip into Europe for the third event of the season, coming off the back of arguably his best weekend in the championship so far where two wins were cruelly taken from his grasp at Silverstone.
The J5C Management Limited, StreetSharp Ltd, The Accounting Centre Ltd and Khan Thornton Ltd-backed driver took to the picturesque Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium hopeful of taking that long-awaited first win officially, with three practice sessions highlighting his top-five pace ahead of qualifying.
The crucial timed session later that Friday afternoon would unfortunately begin with poor fortune for Bennett, after he was tagged by a competitor out on track in the early minutes. Damage was done to his rear wing which required a trip to the pits for repairs, after which he returned to the track to set another flyer. Climbing to 12th, his fastest lap had to be cut short due to a red flag interruption, keeping him stuck in an unrepresentative position for Saturday’s opening two races.
From row six on the grid the following morning, the Motorsport UK Academy charger put his overtaking hat on for the opening nine-lap contest in the Ardennes. A mighty first lap was in order, and he would climb four spots in a heartbeat after dodging his way through a multi-car collision ahead of him at Les Combes. It would put him right into the fight for a top-six finish, Bennett ultimately hanging on for an eighth place finish to bag more crucial points.
Starting from 13th in the second race of the day, Bennett would again have his eyes set on advancing through the field. Having jumped a spot early on, the Rodin Carlin driver found himself battling hard with a pair of Fortec Motorsport cars during the remaining eight laps, briefly flirting with the top 10 before being squeezed out to a finish of 12th.
Bennett - backed also by Lonetree Limited, Lewco Holdings Limited and Project Divebomb - started in the mid-pack once again in Sunday’s reverse grid race, but with the chance to make up ground with a faster car at his disposal. What followed was another chaotic contest, Bennett successfully evading all of the dramas around him to battle back into the top 10 for a finish of ninth place.
John Bennett:“Maybe we’ll look at that weekend as a bit of a missed opportunity but it was something out of our hands that affected the situation early on. As always, everything in the weekend stems from qualifying. In the session we were hit and suffered rear wing damage that limited us to only a few laps, then the red flag halted our best effort at the end.
“Tough racing on Saturday! We went from P11 to P8 in race one with a lot of battles going on around us, and then the pace was good in the second as well but we just found it harder to pass people with the slipstream often not going in our favour. The last race at times was about survival but I thought we did what we could and we escaped it in a good position. Looking forward to getting back to the UK and to Snetterton where I’m sure we’ll be fast.”
Bennett's points scored keep him inside the top seven in the Drivers’ Championship heading back to the UK, and Snetterton’s 300 circuit for the next GB3 Championship races on 17/18 June.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.