Carlin’s Callum Voisin claimed a maiden single-seater victory in the opening GB3 Championship race of the weekend at Donington Park, after a wild opening lap in the East Midlands.
Voisin started third but a collision between the front row duo of Joel Granfors and Matthew Rees allowed Voisin and teammate Roberto Faria to squeeze through to take a 1-2 finish, while Douglas Motorsport’s Max Esterson stood on a GB3 podium for the first time.
Race one Satuerday
Granfors and Rees were equally matched away from the line, with the pair going wheel to wheel at Redgate, with Rees holding the outside line and almost edging onto the grass. The pair continued their fight down the Craners, with Rees controlling a lurid slide and somehow remaining in the battle.
Reigning British F4 champion Rees was with the Swede again at McLeans, attempting another move around the outside only to interlock wheels on the exit. Granfors’ suspension was broken in the collision, sending him spinning in front of the pack, delaying Rees substantially while Browning attempted to avoid the drama but caught some air as he went across the grass on the inside and also had to retire, while several other cars suffered damage.
Through all that Voisin had claimed the lead ahead of Faria who started seventh, with the British driver building a gap of over two seconds over his teammate, and maintaining it to the end, while Faria had to fend off the race-long attentions of Esterson, who finished seven tenths further behind.
Arden’s Alex Connor was fourth ahead of Elite’s Tom Lebbon, with his teammate James Hedley completing the top-six.
With the top-two in the championship standings (Granfors and Browning) both retiring, Faria’s podium means he has closed to within three points of the championship lead. The driver leading the standings at the end of race three tomorrow will receive a prize tour of the Red Bull Racing F1 factory.
Race one winner Voisin said: "I’m pretty speechless right now. I got a decent start, but the other two in front – Rees managed to get just alongside Granfors - but then they collided at McLeans and I managed to slip through without any problems.
"From then on it was just managing the tyres and managing that gap. I’m over the moon.”
Esterson and Aron take maiden victories at Donington Park
Max Esterson and Bryce Aron ensured eight drivers have now taken wins from the first nine races of the 2022 GB3 Championship.
Douglas Motorsport’s Esterson took a maiden slicks and wings victory in race two from pole position, while Hitech Aron’s claimed his first win in the championship in the final contest.
Meanwhile, a charging drive through the field ensures Fortec’s Joel Granfors leaves Donington Park as the championship leader, and will enjoy a prize tour of the Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 factory courtesy of John Cavill.
Race one Sunday
Esterson started from pole position, with the grid based on each driver’s second fastest lap times from qualifying. The New Yorker made a decent start from pole position, but had to resist a first lap challenge from fellow front row starter Callum Voisin, with the Carlin driver going around the outside of Redgate, the Craner Curves and the Old Hairpin, only to run wide.
That allowed championship contenders Luke Browning and Joel Granfors into the podium positions, with Hitech’s Browning applying pressure on Esterson throughout, but settled for second to reclaim the championship lead from Granfors, who finished third and a couple of seconds further back.
Elite’s James Hedley claimed fourth place, half a second ahead of Carlin’s Roberto Faria, while Matthew Rees was sixth for JHR Developments.
Race two Sunday
Aron started from pole position in the final contest, with the grid being an inverse of the qualifying result. The American contender, in his second GB3 season, led from start to finish to take his first victory, just a few weeks after claiming his first podium finish back at Silverstone.
While Aron extended a gap of two seconds, Chris Dittmann Racing’s Branden Oxley had slotted into second place and claimed a first podium in the championship ahead of Fortec’s Mikkel Grundtvig, who was fourth on the road but benefited from a time penalty for Tommy Smith to stand on the final step of the podium.
Meanwhile, the championship battle swung back in Granfors’ favour, as he shot up the order from 21st on the grid to tenth place, gaining 11 places, while rival Browning went from 16th to ninth.
Just one point separates the duo in the standings, with the Swedish driver earning a tour of one of F1’s leading facilities as a result. Esterson’s best weekend yet puts him third in the standings, just a couple of points ahead of Carlin’s Roberto Faria.
Race two winner Esterson said: “This feels great, I mean it was a pretty straightforward race. I got a decent launch off the line and had a bit of a battle into the Old Hairpin but managed to hold on. From there I was just looking forward as it’s very difficult to pass unless the leader makes a mistake, so as long as I didn’t make a mistake I knew it would be pretty easy.”
Race three winner Aron said: “That was really good, I’m very happy with that. It’s not been an ideal weekend by any means but I’m definitely happy to come back with that and salvage something. I need to thank everyone at Hitech GP, they did a great job and gave me a really good car. So thanks go to them and everyone that supports me and all my friends back home in America too, I appreciate their support.”
Championship leader Granfors said: “I thought it was close between me and Browning heading into this round with three points between us, but now after this race there’s just one point, and you can’t get closer than that! It’s very exciting to be getting a tour at Red Bull, I’ve been a fan of the team since Sebastian Vettel started driving for them and doing well. I was very young then so it’ll be good to see how they work.”
GB3 Championship, standings after race nine of 24:
1. Joel Granfors, Fortec Motorsport, 168pts
2. Luke Browning, Hitech GP, 167pts
3. Max Esterson, Douglas Motorsport, 145pts
4. Roberto Faria, Carlin, 143pts
5. Callum Voisin, Carlin, 132pts
6. Tom Lebbon, Elite Motorsport, 127pts
GB3 Championship, Teams’ standings after race nine of 24:
1. Carlin, 293pts
2. Hitech GP, 290pts
3. Elite Motorsport, 274pts
4. Fortec Motorsport, 272pts
5. Douglas Motorsport, 227pts
6. Chris Dittmann Racing, 175pts
Image credit: Jakob Ebrey