Zak O’Sullivan is on the brink of taking the GB3 Championship title with two races remaining. All he has to do is finish Race 1 on Saturday afternoon.
The Carlin man took pole for Race 1, and might have had Race 2 pole but for traffic. He was feeling positive when TCF caught up with him at Donington Park on Saturday.
“Getting pole doesn’t really change too much, I think we had the Championship celebrations before Quali, because mathematically I’m champion, unless I get any penalty points in Race 1,” the 16-year-old said.
“It’s a bit of an underwhelming end to the championship, I guess, but qualifying was good. I wasn’t really expecting it, I improved my driving from testing as I’d picked up some bad habits between Oulton Park and Donington.”
Those “bad habits” related to “simply over-reaching with the brake pedal. I was struggling with braking and thought there was an issue with the car yesterday, but there turned out not to be.
“It’s good to get pole for Race 1, potentially Race 2 pole was possible without traffic hindering our other lap, but it looks like it’s going to be wet anyway so that should be good fun.”
Carlin ran four cars in total in testing, with O’Sullivan, Christian Mansell, Bryce Aron and Eduardo Coseteng, with the champion-elect getting a little less running time than his team-mates.
“It was a bit of a stressful testing period, I arrived late to the track on Thursday because of sim-related duty for the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award so I’ve been on the back foot since then, but we’ve managed to recover well.
“Times have been a lot faster this weekend, I’ve been on pole both times we’ve been here, and I think there’s a half-second difference between the times.
“Looking at the data, I think I was driving slightly better in July, so the colder track temperatures seem to be helping the Pirelli tyres a bit more, there’s less degradation and a better working window.”
O’Sullivan retired from Race 3 when the championship visited Donington in July, following a collision with then-title rival Reece Ushijima (Hitech GP). He’s hoping to avoid a repeat of that incident, though he conceded that the reverse-grid races are “quite unpredictable”.
“I think it’s up to others whether they leave space or not, and I’m the only one in the championship with nothing to lose.
“Up until now I’ve been looking to protect my position and be a little cautious, especially in Race 3 when it’s quite unpredictable.
“Obviously I won’t do anything stupid, but there’s no need to be under the radar or trying to stay away from incidents so much.
“I think there’s a titanic battle for P2 in the championship, so it’ll be entertaining to watch that from afar in Race 3.”
Looking further ahead, it was announced at the beginning of the season that the GB3 champion would also win an FIA Formula 3 Championship test with Carlin at Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia.
“No sim work yet, but the plan was always to do FIA F3 next year, so we’ll start testing here and there, I’m sure as most people have if they can commit to it!
“The plan was to do the Valencia test regardless, but to get two of the three days free from MSV is a great prize and puts the GB3 Championship on the international radar.”
Zak starts Race 1 from pole, Race 2 from third on account of aforementioned traffic on his second lap, and the reverse-grid Race 3 from 21st and last on the grid.
He knows he only has to finish Race 1 to be officially confirmed as champion, but his lead leaving Oulton Park was all but unassailable.