Oliver Bearman took his first win in the newly-rebranded GB3 Championship on Saturday afternoon, despite a race-long challenge from Fortec Motorsport team-mate Roberto Faria.
The returning ADAC F4 and Italian F4 Championship leader continued his astonishing form in 2021 by taking pole after missing three rounds, ahead of Tom Lebbon and Faria.
Frederick Lubin (Arden Motorsport) returned to the Championship after missing Donington Park and Spa-Francorchamps through illness, as Branden Lee Oxley and Tommy Smith made their debuts for Chris Dittmann Racing and Douglas Motorsport respectively.
Lebbon fell down the order from the start with what seemed to be a puncture in the opening exchanges, while Bearman led the first lap in Norfolk from Faria, Roman Bilinski and Javier Sagrera.
Championship leader Zak O’Sullivan sat fifth, just ahead of title rival Reece Ushijima (Hitech GP), whose challenge has faltered a little since his double-DNF at Donington two meetings ago.
Ushijima’s challenge in this race wouldn’t last three laps, with the Japanese driver hitting the barriers in difficult conditions which had prompted brave tyre calls up and down the paddock pre-race.
O’Sullivan boxed with damage at the end of the same lap, though it was unclear whether the two incidents were related and whether the pair had repeated their incident from Race 3 at Donington, which ended both drivers’ races.
Meanwhile, Sagrera slipped behind Sebastian Alvarez and Oxley, before Ayrton Simmons followed his new team-mate through to relegate the Spanish Elite Motorsport man further down the order.
Bearman’s advantage fell gradually as the race went on, with Faria closing the gap from the first lap onwards, chasing a first non-reverse-grid win after taking Race 3 honours at Spa last time out.
The returning Lubin displaced José Garfias for ninth on Lap 7, as O’Sullivan rejoined some 19 seconds behind Lebbon, and over a minute behind Reema Juffali who sat 15th after starting tenth, her best Qualifying result of the season to date.
Donington race-winner Mikkel Grundtvig and Bryce Aron got past Smith who slipped to 14th on Lap 8, as Faria set the fastest lap to go 1.8 seconds behind Bearman, and ten seconds ahead of Bilinski in third.
The Brazilian’s sector times on Lap 9 were several tenths quicker than his team-mate ahead, and he closed the gap by another six tenths with three laps remaining.
Bearman took the spoils though, in a race which only ran for ten laps due to the wet lap times, with Faria having to settle for second despite giving chase throughout.
Bilinski held on for third, just four tenths ahead of Alvarez who was denied a maiden podium in GB3 by an Arden Motorsport driver who seems to be loving his time in the Championship thus far.
Branden Lee Oxley took an excellent fifth place on debut, ahead of team-mate Simmons, with Christian Mansell ahead of the returning Lubin, and Garfias holding off Bart Horsten who started last due to suspension damage in Qualifying.
With Ushijima’s early retirement, 17th-placed O’Sullivan has still extended his Championship lead by four points as the season enters its second phase.
Snetterton 300 Race 1 Results:
|1||87||Oliver Bearman||GBR||Fortec Motorsport||10 laps|
|2||7||Roberto Faria||BRA||Fortec Motorsport||+1.141|
|3||4||Roman Bilinski||POL||Arden Motorsport||+13.389|
|4||12||Sebastian Alvarez||MEX||Hitech GP||+13.811|
|5||68||Branden Lee Oxley||GBR||Chris Dittmann Racing||+17.107|
|6||18||Ayrton Simmons||GBR||Chris Dittmann Racing||+17.466|
|8||78||Frederick Lubin||GBR||Arden Motorsport||+22.327|
|9||99||Jose Garfias||MEX||Elite Motorsport||+25.558|
|10||50||Bart Horsten||AUS||Hitech GP||+25.836|
|11||3||Javier Sagrera||SPA||Elite Motorsport||+28.209|
|13||55||Tommy Smith||AUS||Douglas Motorsport||+35.259|
|14||10||Reema Juffali||SAU||Douglas Motorsport||+36.680|
|15||43||Mikkel Grundtvig||DEN||Fortec Motorsport||+45.618|
|16||34||Tom Lebbon||GBR||Elite Motorsport||+1:23.192|
|18||13||Reece Ushijima||JPN||Hitech GP||DNF (damage)|