GB3

PREVIEW: 2022 GB3 Championship – Oulton Park

3 Mins read
Credit: Jakob Ebrey

The 2022 GB3 Championship begins at Oulton Park in its traditional Easter Bank Holiday weekend slot for the first time since 2019, with over half the grid competing in the series for the first time.

The Checkered Flag takes a look back at last year’s running in Cheshire, and ahead to the curtain-raiser to come.

Last time at Oulton Park

Oulton Park hosted the penultimate round of the 2021 season, with mixed conditions throughout the weekend making for three characteristically unpredictable races.

Eventual champion Zak O’Sullivan won Saturday’s race, one of seven victories from 24 starts, with Luke Browning taking top honours in Race 2 after a tangle with O’Sullivan and Roman Bilinski winning Race 3 in full-wet conditions.

O’Sullivan has since moved onto the FIA Formula 3 Championship with Carlin, while Bilinski will compete in Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine this year with Trident.

Browning returns for a full GB3 season with Hitech GP after his 2021 wildcard performance at his home circuit with Fortec Motorsport, having won the 2020 F4 British Championship with the team.

Circuit

Oulton Park is 2.692 miles long, with 17 undulating corners in the Cheshire countryside making for a thrilling experience the drivers always speak highly of.

Old Hall Corner presents the drivers with a difficult braking zone and a runoff area of grass and astroturf which plenty of drivers found themselves on last year, presenting yet another challenge in the wet.

There’s then a plunge down the Avenue into Cascades, where the circuit forks off to the right for the Foster’s circuit. The GB3 circuit takes the field down the Lakeside Straight into Island Bend, one of the trickiest corners on the calendar.

The Shell Oils Hairpin is unlikely to present an overtaking opportunity, but the Britten’s and Hislop’s chicanes afterwards may be the site of some risky moves throughout the weekend.

Zak O’Sullivan took himself out of the race at Hislop’s in Race 2 last year by trying to overtake Luke Browning around the outside, running out of road and skidding across the wet grass, back across the track and finding the barriers just before Knickerbrook.

Knickerbrook used to be a much faster, much more intimidating corner but it still leads the drivers under the bridge, up Clay Hill and into Druids.

That is likely to be the other most difficult braking zone on the circuit, as drivers pull the car from left to right, ride over the uneven track surface on entry and set the car up on the exit for a lunge into Lodge.

This writer remembers Lodge as the site of Tommy Hill‘s two crashes in as many laps in the final weekend of the 2010 MCE British Superbike Championship, as he outbraked himself on the bump on entry and took out himself and James Ellison.

Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke also came a cropper there in a somewhat similar incident in the Intelligent Money British GT Championship last year, taking out Jack Brown in an ill-judged move down the inside.

Credit: Will Pittenger – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oulton_Park.svg#licensing, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=108082602

What to look out for this weekend

The GB3 Championship welcomes an upgraded, bespoke car for 2022 in the form of the Tatuus MSV-022, with a halo, 25 per cent more downforce, a 20bhp increase to its Mountune-prepared engine and a side-mounted airbox bringing it closer to more traditional Formula 3-spec cars around Europe.

Relatively few drivers on the grid will be able to make a direct comparison between, or comment on the upgrades, as only five of the 21 drivers currently announced competed in the full 2021 season.

Branden Oxley, Tommy Smith, James Hedley, Alex Connor and Luke Browning all competed in at least one round last year, but dipped in and out of the Championship for various reasons.

Cian Shields, McKenzy Cresswell, Marcos Flack, Zak Taylor, John Bennett, Callum Voisin, Max Esterson, Joel Granfors, Matthew Rees, Nick Gilkes and David Morales have yet to turn a wheel in anger in a GB3 car, having only partaken in testing to date.

That degree of upheaval across the grid comes with the territory in junior single-seater racing, but all 21 drivers bring a wide range of experience levels into the season, making for a fascinating opening round at Oulton Park as 2022 gets off the line.

Schedule

Thursday 14 April – Testing

Friday 15 April – Testing

Saturday 16 April

11:05am – Qualifying

2:45pm – Race 1

Monday 18 April

1:05pm – Race 2

3:25pm – Race 3

How to follow

The Checkered Flag will be bringing you reports, news and interviews from every session on Saturday and Easter Monday.

Live timing is provided by TSL Timing from Thursday morning through to Monday afternoon, with official live-streams of all three races on the MSV TV YouTube channel and the GB3 Championship website.

Check out our full season preview to get fully up-to-speed with the line-ups, calendar and more ahead of the 2022 season.

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