Browning re-takes GB3 Championship lead, Carlin build Teams’ gap

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Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Luke Browning leads the GB3 Championship at the halfway stage after an impressive weekend at Snetterton 300 in which he just had the edge on title rival Joel Granfors.

The Hitech GP driver leads the Drivers’ Standings by 11 points as the Championship heads to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps to kick off the second half of the season.

The Checkered Flag looks back at the key stories from GB3’s only visit to the Norfolk circuit this season.

Granfors loses ground in title fight despite double podium

Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Joel Granfors led the Drivers’ Standings after the third meeting at Donington Park, albeit by a single point.

He and Browning have been in a class of their own for much of the season so far, but only shared the podium in Race 2 in Leicestershire after a Lap 1 crash in Race 1 took both out of the running, Browning hitting the barriers while trying to avoid Granfors’ spinning Fortec Motorsports car.

Leading after Donington won Granfors a tour of the Red Bull Technology Campus from long-time Championship supporter John Cavill, where he joined then-GB4 Championship leader Nikolas Taylor after Snetterton (Monday 27 June).

Snetterton was still a positive weekend for Granfors, as he edged Browning out by 0.009s in Qualifying and took two podiums, third in Race 1 and second in Race 2.

Browning finished ahead of Granfors in all three races, though, claiming second in Race 1 behind Callum Voisin.

Granfors couldn’t quite get past Browning for the win in Race 2, despite looking every which way for an opportunity to take the lead.

Indeed, the Hitech driver looked to force Granfors into the pit exit around the halfway point as the Swede looked to get down the inside into Riches, also sweeping across to the right to block a move after a slide into Nelson in the latter stages.

Browning got the better of Granfors by four tenths in the reverse-grid encounter on Sunday afternoon, having started just ahead of him due to his qualifying one position lower on Saturday morning.

The Hitech and Fortec pair have been virtually inseparable since Granfors’ double win at Silverstone earlier in the season, balancing out Browning’s brace on home turf at Oulton Park in the season opener.

They look to have broken away from the rest of the field, with Roberto Faria deposing Max Esterson to go into third in the standings, 41 points behind Granfors and 52 behind Browning, despite not taking a podium since Carlin‘s 1-2 in Race 1 at Donington.

Considering Browning has taken 239 points from the opening 12 races, though, there’s plenty of time for Faria and the rest of the chasing pack to mount a serious challenge going into the second half of the season.

Faria took his first GB3 win at Spa-Francorchamps last season on his way to fifth in the standings, and is the highest-placed returning driver on the grid this year. Count him out at your peril.

Fortec take podiums in all three races to go third

Credit: Jakob Ebrey

With Granfors embroiled in what is turning into a titanic, yet respectful title battle, Fortec are in a great position after the first half of the season.

The Swede’s two podiums helped them manage the gap to Hitech after the first two races of the weekend at Snetterton, before Mikkel Grundtvig took yet another reverse-grid win to secure a 22-point swing from that race alone.

They were the only team to be represented on the podium in all three races, with Grundtvig’s win paying dividends in a race where Browning finished 14th, Bryce Aron was disqualified for first-lap contact with Branden Oxley and Cian Shields retired early on after a mechanical ruined his front-row start.

Over the course of the weekend, the Daventry outfit only closed the gap to Hitech by a single point, but were able to leapfrog Elite Motorsport to move up to third in the Teams’ Standings.

They’re only 17 points behind Hitech at the halfway stage, and 45 behind reigning champions Carlin.

Zak Taylor is yet to take a podium so far this season since moving up from the F4 British Championship with Fortec alongside Granfors, with a best finish of sixth in the reverse-grid races at Oulton and Snetterton.

Voisin enjoys stellar Saturday

Credit: Craig Robertson

Callum Voisin‘s season burst into life at Donington as he inherited a maiden GB3 win after Granfors and Matthew Rees‘ first-lap incident in Race 1, leading home the only 1-2 of the year so far.

The Ginetta Junior graduate continued his upturn in form into Snetterton, taking pole for Race 1 by just under a tenth with his final lap in a frantic Qualifying session and converting it into a win in Race 1, half a second ahead of Browning.

He ran wide at Riches in Race 2, spinning back across the track and into the inside barriers to retire, but Carlin got his car in working order for the Anglo-Swiss driver to come home 17th in Race 3 and take five points to keep Tom Lebbon at bay in the Drivers’ Championship.

Flack takes first podium in joint campaign

Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Marcos Flack is running one of the busiest schedules of any driver on the GB3 grid this season.

One of Douglas Motorsport‘s two Australian drivers, Flack is mixing selected GB3 rounds with the Italian F4 and ADAC F4 Championships, much as Oliver Bearman did last year with unprecedented success.

So far he has only missed Silverstone due to a clash with Italian F4’s visit to Imola in early May; he told The Checkered Flag he hopes to bring his ADAC F4 experience of Spa earlier in the year to GB3’s annual visit to continental Europe in July.

Should his gruelling flying, testing and racing schedule allow him to get on the grid in Belgium, he’ll be arriving on the back of his first GB3 podium in Race 3 at Snetterton.

Not contesting every GB3 round means looking too deeply into his 20th place in the standings is unhelpful, though he is three points ahead of a full-season entry in Arden Motorsport‘s David Morales and just three behind Silverstone Race 3 winner Cian Shields.

On the topic of varied schedules, Morales and Arden team-mate Alex Connor have both competed in select rounds of the Praga Cup in a Praga R1 as Arden evaluate a ‘factory’ entry into the Championship for 2023.

Former GB3 podium-finisher and F3 Cup contender Alex Fores has also had outings in the single-make prototype series this year.

Carlin extend Teams gap as Sagrera finally gets 2022 podium

Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Carlin romped to the inaugural Teams’ Championship in 2021, with Zak O’Sullivan, Christian Mansell and Bryce Aron all showing strongly across the year to take them to the title, 124 points ahead of Hitech.

At the halfway stage in 2022, they’re on 408, projecting them to reach 816 at season’s end. That would have put them third in 2021, between Hitech and Fortec.

It certainly seems the teams have been more evenly-matched this year, though Carlin can now boast podium appearances for all three drivers courtesy of Javier Sagrera‘s first for the team in Race 2 at Snetterton.

The Spaniard’s only previous GB3 podium came on his first weekend with Elite Motorsport at Brands Hatch in May 2021, at the start of a season where he frequently showed solid performances and only retired from three of 24 races, but didn’t pick up the podiums his consistency might have merited.

Now, though, with his confidence seemingly buoyed by a first podium of the year, Carlin sit 28 points ahead of Hitech and 45 ahead of Fortec, with four podiums from the last six races and a 25-point swing taking them towards a more comfortable perch at the top of the standings.

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