Single-seater racing talent John Bennett had a certain podium finish ripped from his grasp as the rain forced one of the three GB3 Championship races at Silverstone to be cancelled last weekend (29/30 July).
The 19-year-old from Salisbury headed to the Northampton circuit in high spirits after a promising showing on his visit earlier this year, having taken his first pole position in GB3 and only been denied two race victories by post-race judicial decisions.
The J5C Management Limited, StreetSharp Ltd, The Accounting Centre Ltd and Khan Thornton Ltd-backed driver therefore hoped to put the final statistic to rights in the latest three races of the eight-round championship.
With the field looking close over two days of testing across Thursday and Friday, Bennett went into Saturday morning's key qualifying session hopeful of a strong performance to set up the weekend's three races. Despite only being 1.1s away from the ultimate pole position time, balance issues with his Rodin Carlin Tatuus machine limited his position to 21st on the grid.
A recovery job began with a fine start in the first race of the weekend later that Saturday afternoon, gaining several places in the opening sequence of corners. With a charge on the cards, Bennett's chances were abruptly ended by contact from his Carlin team-mate Costa Toparis at Club corner, turning him around and putting him back to the rear of the field.
The youngster upped his pace, closing an eight-second cushion to virtually nothing as he caught the pack and began to make up ground once again. Bennett would gain four further spots on track, finishing 18th at the flag with hopes of converting that pace into two strong results on Sunday.
Starting from 21st on the grid again in the second race of the weekend, based on second-fastest qualifying times, Bennett would again have his eyes set on advancing through the field. The Lonetree Limited, Lewco Holdings Limited and Project Divebomb-backed driver this time had the opening lap he desired, charging up the order immediately.
The rapid start he made pushed the Rodin Carlin driver up several places, before he evaded a collision ahead of him well to advance a total of seven spots in a chaotic race, chasing the top 10 finishers hard for a finish of 14th by the chequered flag.
One final contest remained for Bennett and it would be the reverse grid race, for which the Rodin Carlin man lined up second on the grid after a car's early pre-race demise ahead. Unfortunately, the conditions savagely turned and heavy rain left the circuit saturated to such an extent that the race was curtailed following several laps run behind the safety car.
Despite a re-assessment, the race would ultimately be called off, with news on a potential re-run later in the year still at this stage left undecided. Bennett was running second at the time of the stoppage, with his chance to take that maiden win instead snatched away - albeit out of his hands.
John Bennett:“It's such a shame and the way it ended kind of summed up our luck of recent rounds really. We surely had the best chance all season of getting that 'official' win on the road after we did so well here earlier in the season, but this time the weather took it away from us.
"We had some balance issues with the car when it came to qualifying which put us much further back than where we know we should have been. That meant we had to fight, and after race one's issue we fought back well in race two.
"I think we could have won the final race from where we started, but we have to take it on the chin and go and do it at Brands Hatch instead!”
Bennett will return to action for his next trio of GB3 Championships races at Brands Hatch GP in Kent over the weekend of 9/10 September.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.