John Bennett's GB3 Championship season came to its conclusion at Donington Park last weekend (21/22 October) with the rapid youngster sealing a top-10 finish in the final standings.
The Salisbury-based teenager entered the final three races of the season looking to climb further in the Drivers' Championship and arrived at one of his favourite circuits on the calendar, Donington Park, a track that he excelled at in his rookie campaign 12 months ago.
Bennett and his Rodin Carlin squad were faced with a different challenge in the run-up to the final weekend as Storm Babet battered the country, leaving testing on Thursday a damp affair and resulting in Friday's on-track action being curtailed altogether.
The J5C Management Limited, StreetSharp Ltd, The Accounting Centre Ltd and Khan Thornton Ltd-backed driver still had to deal with damp conditions - albeit much improved - the following morning for qualifying. His pace in the crucial timed session looked impressive throughout, putting his Rodin Carlin Tatuus into the top three initially. A deleted time for track limits was harsh on the Ginetta GT5 Challenge race winner though, who ended up only 0.5s off pole but 11th on the grid for race one.
The Motorsport UK Academy driver had much more in his locker to unleash on his opposition, and after evading a multitude of squabbles close to him in a chaotic opening lap, he looked to make progress up the order in race one. Joseph Loake was not obliging however as he eased Bennett aside with contact at the Melbourne Hairpin, Bennett chasing the pack ahead but unable to pass under a lengthy safety car period, finishing 11th.
With much kinder weather the following day it was up to Bennett to fight his way forward in the final two races of the weekend on Sunday. The Lonetree Limited, Lewco Holdings Limited and Project Divebomb-backed racer battled from an unrepresentative 13th place on the grid in race two.
Bennett battled hard with Rodin Carlin team-mate Costa Toparis on his way to finishing ahead of the Australian with a cutback move to assure him of 15th place. Starting mid-pack for the third and final race of the weekend, the 19-year-old multiple GB3 podium finisher lost his front wing over the damp grass at the Old Hairpin in a chaotic first lap, recovering to 18th place.
Despite the setbacks of Sunday, it was enough for Bennett to finish tenth in the final Drivers’ Championship standings, with seven top-10 finishes to his name over a competitive campaign.
John Bennett:“Overall it's been a tight season between us all, and we fought hard all the way to the end. We technically took two wins on the road when you look back at the first Silverstone visit, and that showed what we were really made of!
“It didn't quite go to plan at Donington Park. I had a lap removed in Qualifying while in the top five, which left us in the danger zone in the middle of the pack, and Sunday was a tough day for us. Thank you to all of my sponsors and family for their backing and their support throughout this year, and to the Rodin Carlin squad also for their work with me."
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.