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John Bennett has launched his 2024 title challenge with a sensational maiden GB3 Championship race victory and a second-place finish from the traditional Easter weekend season opener at Oulton Park (30 March-01 April).

The Salisbury-based racer made the trip to Cheshire in high spirits following a hugely positive pre-season testing programme, and the encouraging pace continued through the traditional two days of pre-event testing in the run-up to the event.

Bennett went on to light up the timesheets in qualifying on Saturday morning, with a run of rapid lap times putting him right in the mix for pole position in his JHR Developments machine. The reward for his efforts was second on the grid for the opening two races of the season.

With overtaking historically at a premium around the narrow Oulton Park circuit, Bennett knew the race starts provided one of his best opportunities at taking the race lead. A fast launch to the opener saw him draw alongside the pole-sitter heading through Old Hall for the first time.

He had to slot back into second on the approach to Cascades corner though and held that position into a lengthy safety car period. When action resumed, he kept in touch with the leader and ran a comfortable second through to the chequered flag.

A drastic change in weather conditions greeted Bennett as he returned to Oulton Park for Monday’s two races. The heavy rain didn’t phase him though and he produced a masterful display in race two to record his long-awaited maiden GB3 victory.

Holding second place into an early safety car period, he pounced on the race leader after the restart with a simply sublime overtaking move. Storming around the outside through the high-speed Island left-hander, he completed the move on the brakes into the Shell Oils hairpin.

The J5C Management Limited, StreetSharp Ltd, The Accounting Centre Ltd, Khan Thornton Ltd, Lonetree Limited, Lewco Holdings Limited and Project Divebomb backed driver would be untroubled from there, posting the fastest lap of the race as he pulled clear to secure a memorable win.

The reverse grid for the final race of the weekend put Bennett in 11th at the start. After slipping back to 15th in the early stages, his focus turned to damage limitation as the conditions worsened and he brought his car home in 14th at the finish.

John Bennett: “I’m absolutely over the moon to have taken my first victory in the GB3 Championship. After twice having wins taken away last year, it’s a great feeling to get one on the board officially and take that weight off my shoulders.

“Considering the difficulties we faced last season, I really wanted to come back and show everyone what I can do. JHR Developments have been fantastic, we’ve been right up there on the timesheets through pre-season and it’s great to have continued that pace this weekend.

“Race two was the highlight. I couldn’t see anything sitting in the spray so after the safety car I knew I needed to give it a go, and it felt amazing to make the move stick and get the win. It’s a dream start to the season and we want to continue at this level through Silverstone and beyond.”

The 2024 GB3 Championship season continues later this month (27-28 April) with three races around the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit.

Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.


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