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Bennett takes “amazing” first GB3 win at Oulton Park

Written by Archie O’Reilly


Credit: Tom Evans Media

DIVEBOMB-partnered driver John Bennett took his maiden GB3 Championship victory on Monday at Oulton Park, producing a brave overtake to pass Louis Sharp for the lead before streaking away to win by a margin of almost three seconds.


“Delighted with the win,” Bennett said. “Huge pressure off my shoulders. It’s just amazing after how hard last year was - I think I came away from round one second-last in the championship.”


Heading into his third year in the series, Bennett showed promise with a test-topping time in an early March test at Oulton Park. He backed this up with front row starts for the opening two of three races - the third seeing the top 12 reversed - for the season opener after recording the second-best fastest and second-fastest laps in Saturday’s qualifying session. 


It was Rodin Motorsport rookie and reigning British F4 champion Sharp that took double pole position ahead of Bennett for GB3’s annual visit to the Cheshire circuit as part of the British GT Championship support bill. But, in his first season with JHR Developments after moving from Rodin Carlin, it was a strong start for Bennett.



Credit: Tom Evans Media


“We knew we were in a strong position,” he said. “All winter we have been quite fast. We were aiming for pole but P2 was a good, solid result to start.”


Bennett put Sharp under some pressure off the line in the opening race but, with Oulton Park notoriously tough for overtaking, he had to settle in behind the Kiwi. The 20-minute Saturday race was then punctuated by a safety car as the lone Hillspeed entry of Adi Kulkarni sustained damage and ended up beached in the gravel trap at Shell Oils Corner. 


Bennett would hold onto his second-place despite pressure from McLaren junior and Rodin driver Ugo Ugochukwu, securing his third GB3 podium after picking up one second-place and a single third-place across his opening two years in the series.


Credit: Tom Evans Media

Following a break from track action for Easter Sunday, Bennett’s second front row start came on Monday. He was again unable to pass Sharp - this time after a safety car start amid decidedly wet conditions - and found himself initially under some pressure from the hard-charging Hitech Pulse-Eight car of Tymek Kucharczyk.


But a safety car neutralised the field after the Chris Dittmann Racing car of Rishab Jain found the gravel trap in the first corner. Bennett, who has proclaimed his liking of damp conditions, put Sharp under pressure on the restart and, on the run through the high-speed Island Bend into Shell Oils Corner, showed exceptional commitment to take the lead.


“I saw some space on the outside of Louis and knew that would be my only chance to get past,” he said. “I went for it, made it stick and got the inside for the hairpin. From then, I just drove off into the lead.”


After qualifying on double pole and taking the chequered flag twice at Silverstone in 2023, only to be stripped of both race victories due to post-race penalties, it was gratifying for Bennett to finally take his maiden win. And in similarly difficult conditions.



Credit: Tom Evans Media


“I have always been strong in the wet,” he said. “We’ll be able to keep this one, third time lucky.”


The third and final race of the weekend, for which he started 11th after the reversing of the top 12 qualifiers, saw Bennett lose places off the start and finish in 14th-place. He “couldn’t get heat in the tyres” and struggled to close out the weekend. But he remains very positive about a season-opening weekend that saw him double his podium tally in two races.


“I have gelled really well with JHR,” he said, rounding out the first weekend third-place in the championship. “I think we’re off to a strong start. It should only get better. [I want to] carry on as we’re going and try to get the championship by the end.”



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