Rising single-seater star John Bennett was cruelly denied a pair of maiden GB3 Championship race victories last weekend at Silverstone GP circuit (6/7 May), but made huge gains in the title chase.
The 19-year-old Rodin Carlin driver entered the second event of the season looking to bounce back from a challenging opening meeting at Oulton Park, and duly did so with a brilliant performance at the Home of British Motorsport.
The J5C Management Limited, StreetSharp Ltd, The Accounting Centre Ltd and Khan Thornton Ltd-backed driver was greeted with ever-changeable conditions even from midweek testing, consistently showing impressive pace during the two days of running leading up to the weekend to outline himself as a front-running contender.
Wet weather once again returned for the crucial 20-miute qualifying session, but Bennett was undeterred and immediately put himself towards the head of the timesheets. Briefly dropping back, a late surge stuck the Rodin Carlin man on pole position, with two special laps proving good enough for a double pole over races one and two.
A superb opening lap kept him ahead of a chasing Joseph Loake after braving it around the outside at Copse, and with the spray in his wake it allowed him to control the pace in the initial 10-lap contest. Battling the worsening conditions, the former Ginetta GT5 Challenge race winner was undeterred as he took the chequered flag on the road for what looked like a fantastic maiden GB3 Championship race victory by just under two seconds.
Unfortunately, a penalty post-race demoted him to second spot after a first corner track limits offence during his fight for the lead. Fired up by the outcome, Bennett - backed also by Lonetree Limited, Lewco Holdings Limited and Project Divebomb - had the chance to secure the elusive first win the following day from pole position again.
The Motorsport UK Academy driver was demoted to second spot by a jump-starting Matthew Rees, meaning his attentions centered around a battle with Alex Dunne for the erstwhile race lead. Defending into Brooklands corner, Bennett’s front end twitched slightly as Dunne pinched him to the inside, resulting in contact between the pair and the latter spinning.
Following a safety car interruption, Bennett chased the penalised Rees home to claim victory on the road once again, but his collision with Dunne resulted in a penalty dropping him to a still positive fourth. The final race would be damage limitation from the reverse grid, with Bennett’s supreme qualifying this time punishing him with a 19th place start.
What followed was a sterling recovery drive, Bennett picking off several cars early doors and slipping by jostling rivals ahead to take a credible 11th place, leaping him up to seventh in the Drivers’ Championship as a reward for his efforts.
John Bennett:“A strange weekend but with so many positives. We got a double pole position which nobody could take away from us, and then of course two race wins out on the track. Even with what happened with the second place and the fourth place, that’s still a lot of good points and rounds out a good weekend for us that really shows what we’re made of.
“In that last race going from P19 to P11 is good points too. Coming away from Oulton Park after a bad round and to now be right up there in the championship hunt - that’s shown now that we can achieve these top results all season. Lots of positives, and now looking forward to Spa.”
Bennett next heads to the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium for the coming trio of GB3 Championship races, held over the weekend of 3/4 June.
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.