Lebbon and Gilkes end season with wins
Luke Browning has been crowned as the 2022 GB3 Champion at Donington Park. The British driver clinched the title in race two this morning, after he stormed to second place in a dramatic first race of the day, before marching from 16th to seventh in the reverse grid final contest.
Browning ultimately finished 46.5 points clear of nearest rival Joel Granfors at the top of the standings, having won five races and taken eight further podiums throughout the season.
The 20-year-old’s prize is a two day test in an FIA Formula 3 car, as he aims to follow previous champions Clement Novalak, Kaylen Frederick and Zak O’Sullivan in graduating straight into the F1-support category from GB3.
Browning won the title after a dramatic fightback drive in the second contest of the weekend. Needing to finish a handful of places ahead of Granfors in the race to take the title, it looked as if a last race decider was on the cards after the Swedish driver blasted into the lead from fourth, while Granfors dropped to sixth from fifth.
But it soon became apparent that Granfors didn’t have the pace to sustain the lead, and Tom Lebbon, who was running second, found a way past into the lead on lap three.
Browning soon found his way up to third, and began putting pressure on the Fortec driver, forcing his way through on lap five with Callum Voisin following suit.
From there, Granfors dropped through the field like a stone, all the way to 13th at the chequered flag, while Browning finished two seconds behind race winner Lebbon, more than enough to take the title a race early.
Capping off a celebratory race for Hitech was the appearance of Bryce Aron on the podium, who had dropped to 14th on the first lap after opting for slick tyres in damp conditions, only for the dry weather rubber to really work to his advantage in the closing stages as he surged back up the order.
With the driver’s title settled, Hillspeed’s Nick Gilkes took full advantage of his reverse grid pole position to claim his first GB3 win, and became the 13th different winner of the season, finishing ahead of Hitech’s Cian Shields and Arden VRD’s Alex Connor.
Away from the top-three, there was still plenty at stake, and a mid race calamity for Carlin, with all three of their drivers affected by drama at the Fogarty Esses, playing into the hands of Hitech, who clinched the team’s championship honours thanks to Shields’ podium and Browning’s rise through the order to seventh from 16th on the grid.
Meanwhile, Elite’s Tom Lebbon claimed third in the driver’s championship, on a day in which he took his fourth win of the season.
New GB3 champion Luke Browning said: “It’s just incredible. My dreams when I was a little boy turning to reality is pretty special. To be a two-time British champion in single-seaters, especially at a high level such as this just feels amazing. The luck fell our way today but a lot of hard work has gone into this. The boys at Hitech deserve it, the hard work has paid off!
“I wanted to get the title sewn up before race three as anything could have happened in that one. To take all that doubt out of my mind going into the last reverse grid meant I could overtake as many cars as I could and take risks. It feels incredibly special to win the championship, and I’m looking forward to where I go next.
“We could have had so much more this year too, pole positions being taken away etcetera. If you look at what happened at Silverstone, we may have already won it heading to the last round. So we’ve had a few unfortunate moments along the way but all these ups and downs throughout the season just makes this sweeter.
“I can’t wait for the F3 test, to race in that series would be an absolute dream. I’m in the best place for it now and let’s see what happens.
“I want to go and enjoy myself now, it’s rare you get days like this that go so perfectly, so I’ll go and enjoy this now with my mates and have a bit of fun! The drinks are on me!”
GB3 Championship, partnered by the BRDC, Donington Park race two top-six:
1. Tom Lebbon, Elite Motorsport, 13 Laps
2. Luke Browning, Hitech GP +1.952
3. Bryce Aron, Hitech GP, +2.684
4. McKenzy Cresswell, Chris Dittmann Racing, +5.655
5. Cian Shields, Hitech GP, Hitech GP, +5.756
6. Matthew Rees, JHR Developments, +8.180
GB3 Championship, partnered by the BRDC, Donington Park race three top-six:
1. Nick Gilkes, Hillspeed, 13 Laps
2. Cian Shields, Hitech GP, +0.903
3. Alex Connor, Arden VRD, +1.198
4. Nico Christodoulou, Arden VRD, +1.507
5. Joel Granfors, Fortec Motorsport, +1.671
6. Ayato Iwasaki, Elite Motorsport, +3.235
GB3 Championship, final drivers' standings:
1. Luke Browning, Hitech GP, 507pts
2. Joel Granfors, Fortec Motorsport, 460.5pts
3. Tom Lebbon, Elite Motorsport, 363.5pts
4. Callum Voisin, Carlin, 359pts
5. Roberto Faria, Carlin, 316.5pts
6. Matthew Rees, JHR Developments, 310.5pts
GB3 Championship, final teams’ standings:
1. Hitech GP, 805.5pts
2. Carlin, 794.5pts
3. Elite Motorsport, 697pts
4. Fortec Motorsport, 648pts
5. Douglas Motorsport, 514pts
6. Arden VRD, 493.5pts