Luke Browning and Roman Bilinski were the two winners at Oulton Park on Sunday, as Carlin’s Zak O’Sullivan came within five points of wrapping up the title a weekend early.
Browning, making his series debut this weekend, triumphed in a chaotic race two which saw several drivers encounter trouble, while Bilinski claimed his third victory of the season in soaking wet conditions in the reversed grid race three.
Browning started second on the grid, formed by each driver’s second fastest qualifying times, but led every lap after passing pole-sitter O’Sullivan at the start. But what had been a relatively normal race burst into life on lap 10.
Firstly, O’Sullivan tried to pass Browning for the lead at the Hislops Chicane, but misjudged the manoeuvre and crashed into retirement, which would ultimately scupper his chances of taking the championship an event early.
Browning emerged unscathed from that incident, but his teammate Roberto Faria was the next to attack, the pair crossing the line side-by-side at the end of lap 11. Faria went for the move at Old Hall, but both cars left the circuit, Faria spinning into the barriers while Browning also spun, but was able to resume, potentially handing the victory to Bart Horsten.
But with cars now stranded in various locations around the circuit, the red flags were shown and the race result was counted back to lap 10. With Browning crucially managing to keep his car running, he was awarded the victory, 1.5 seconds ahead of Horsten with Carlin’s Christian Mansell third, and eating into O’Sullivan’s championship advantage.
Ayrton Simmons also gained ground in the championship battle with fourth place, ahead of Reece Ushijima and Frederick Lubin.
Race three was held in very wet conditions, but Bilinski controlled the contest after taking the lead on lap one having started fourth on the reverse grid, determined by the inverse qualifying order.
While Bilinski marched into the lead and won by over eight seconds from pole-sitter Mikkel Grundtvig, eyes turned to O’Sullivan, who needed a big points swing in his favour to steal the title a weekend early.
He very nearly did it, by climbing from 16th on the grid to sixth in the race. But crucially, Simmons in seventh and Mansell in 11th scored just enough points to give them a slim mathematical chance of taking the title themselves at Donington.
Frederick Lubin claimed his first podium of the season in third place, four tenths of a second clear of Javier Sagrera, with Sebastian Alvarez fifth.
Bilinski commented: “It was really tricky and conditions were changing on almost every lap, the rain was getting heavier and then a bit lighter! I noticed at the start of the formation lap that I had a bit too much wheelspin, so I knew to use a bit less throttle, and the race start was mega. We’ve been a bit unlucky over the last two rounds, but to end with a win, we can head to Donington knowing we’ve got a strong car and we can build from there.”
The field now heads to Donington Park on 16-17 October, where O’Sullivan will most likely be crowned champion.
GB3 Championship, in association with the BRDC, Oulton Park race two top-six:
1. Luke Browning, Fortec Motorsports, 10 laps
2. Bart Horsten, Hitech GP, +1.516s
3. Christian Mansell, Carlin, +2.044s
4. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +4.563s
5. Reece Ushijima, Hitech GP, +9.880s
6. Frederick Lubin, Arden Motorsport, +17.394s
GB3 Championship, in association with the BRDC, Oulton Park race three top-six:
1. Roman Bilinski, Arden Motorsport, 12 laps
2. Mikkel Grundtvig, Fortec Motorsports, +8.150s
3. Frederick Lubin, Arden Motorsport, +11.200s
4. Javier Sagrera, Elite Motorsport, +11.638s
5. Sebastian Alvarez, Hitech GP, +18.086s
6. Zak O’Sullivan, Carlin, +18.550s
GB3 Championship, Championship standings after race 20 of 24
1. Zak O'Sullivan, Carlin, 454pts
2. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, 342pts
3. Christian Mansell, Carlin, 339pts
4. Roberto Faria, Fortec Motorsports, 316pts
5. Reece Ushijima, Hitech GP, 308pts
6. Bart Horsten, Hitech GP, 295pts
Click here for full standings
Race 1: O’Sullivan moves closer to GB3 Championship title with Oulton Park victory
The British driver secured a double pole position in the morning’s qualifying session, and he converted the first of those into a lights-to-flag victory in this afternoon’s race one.
O’Sullivan dominated qualifying to take his third and fourth pole positions of the year. His fastest lap came with around five minutes remaining in the 20 minute session, and at one point was seven tenths of a second clear of his opposition.
Fortec debutant Luke Browning closed the gap down to 0.126 seconds by the end of the session, but O’Sullivan’s time remained unbeaten, while his second fastest time was just 0.15s slower and secured him pole for race two.
Ayrton Simmons was third fastest for Chris Dittmann Racing, ahead of Fortec’s Roberto Faria, Hitech GP’s Bart Horsten, and Carlin’s Christian Mansell. The top-10 was covered by less than a second.
O’Sullivan made a good start from pole position to hold the lead down to Old Hall, while Browning held off a challenge from Simmons.
Browning was able to keep O’Sullivan within his sights in the early stages, but the championship leader was fully in control of the situation, and proceeded to pull away, leading by two seconds at the mid-race point and claimed his fifth win of the year over 3.8 seconds ahead of his former F4 rival.
Browning finished second on the road but was disqualified after the race after scrutineers found his car’s skid plank had exceeded the maximum permitted wear, promoting Simmons to second and Faria to third.
O’Sullivan now holds a 124-point lead in the championship, and could potentially win the title in tomorrow morning’s race two, should results fall his way.
Zak O’Sullivan commented: “I haven’t quite done the maths but a win is a win and I’m going to be extending the gap over everyone if I win. So it’s good to get the win, I’ll put my focus onto winning tomorrow’s race and having a good weekend rather than winning the championship.
“The car was awesome, I managed to pull the gap slightly later on in the race. I think from lap three onwards we had a bit of a tyre advantage and really stretched the gap. The car’s been handling great all weekend and I think that really showed there.”
race of the weekend is due to commence at 12.25, with live streaming and timing available on the official championship website.
GB3 Championship, Oulton Park, Qualifying top-six (race one grid):
1. Zak O’Sullivan, Carlin, 1m31.015s
2. Luke Browning, Fortec Motorsports, +0.126s
3. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +0.508s
4. Roberto Faria, Fortec Motorsports, +0.526s
5. Bart Horsten, Hitech GP, +0.589s
6. Christian Mansell, Carlin, +0.609s
GB3 Championship, Oulton Park, race one top-six:
1. Zak O’Sullivan, Carlin, 13 laps
2. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +4.415s
3. Roberto Faria, Fortec Motorsports, +7.354s
4. Bart Horsten, Hitech GP, +8.511s
5. Christian Mansell, Carlin, +8.945s
6. Reece Ushijima, Hitech GP, +10.006s