Browning and Hitech on top after Oulton Park season opener

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Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Luke Browning won on his GB3 Championship debut weekend in a wildcard appearance at Oulton Park last September, and he made it three wins from two visits by winning Race 1 and Race 2 of the 2022 season.

The Hitech GP driver ran away with both races to win from pole position, having taken a double pole on Saturday morning.

Roberto Faria and Matthew Rees joined the local favourite on the podium in Race 1, while Faria and Joel Granfors completed Race 2’s top three positions.

Browning retired from the reverse-grid Race 3 after contact with Tom Lebbon, though his wins, and 19-point hauls for both Cian Shields and Bryce Aron across the weekend saw Hitech top the Teams’ Championship for the first time, just four points ahead of two-time podium finishers and Race 3 winners Fortec Motorsport.

One of the success stories of the weekend was Elite Motorsport‘s single-seater debutant, John Bennett.

The Ginetta GT5 Challenge race-winner took two fifth places and tenth place in Race 3, ending a stellar first weekend third in the standings behind Browning and Faria.

Reigning British F4 champion Matthew Rees had a similarly-impressive opening weekend, his first podium coming on his debut, just behind much more experienced drivers.

His positive results meant the single-car JHR Developments squad are just three points behind Arden Motorsport who ran two cars at Oulton Park.

Both Arden drivers were dogged by engine troubles throughout the weekend, which did for Alex Connor as he was unable to set a representative time in qualifying.

As that time was outside the 103 per cent threshold needed to put himself on reverse-grid pole, he started all three races at the back of the grid.

Team-mate David Morales, though, managed to send one down the inside of Nick Gilkes, in the other one-car line-up at Hillspeed, at Shell Oils in Race 3 to secure his first GB3 podium after stepping up from British F4.

Browning heads to Silverstone at the top of the Drivers’ Championship despite his Race 3 retirement, seven points ahead of double podium-finisher Faria and 23 ahead of Bennett.

Rees, Granfors and McKenzy Cresswell, whose impressive weekend included fourth in Race 1 are tied on 45 points.

Zak Taylor, Branden Oxley and Race 3 winner Mikkel Grundtvig round out the top ten after the first three races of the season.

In the second year of the Teams’ Championship, Hitech sit four points ahead of Fortec despite a low-scoring Race 3, and 16 points ahead of reigning Drivers’ and Teams’ champions Carlin.

Neither Elite Motorsport nor Chris Dittmann Racing saw either of their drivers take a podium at Oulton Park, but the two teams with very different levels of single-seater experience are separated by just five points in fourth and fifth.

Douglas Motorsport took their first podium of the season with Tommy Smith in Race 3, enjoying consistent points hauls in the first two outings.

Just over ten points behind Douglas, Arden and JHR run line astern in seventh and eighth.

Nick Gilkes’ first two slicks-and-wings races with Hillspeed were spent in the lower midfield, though the Canadian F1600 and Ontario F1600 champion held onto a fourth-place finish in the reverse-grid outing to end the weekend with a positive result.

The GB3 Championship visits Silverstone next, taking to the Grand Prix circuit on 7-8 May.

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Stickler for track limits, covering the GB3 Championship and the FIA Formula 3 Championship. Twitter: @MCallanderMedia
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