The 2022 GB3 Championship title race intensified further at Snetterton as Luke Browning and Joel Granfors fought it out again during the first two races of the weekend. Meanwhile, there were new podium finishers, a return to form and much more to discuss as the season reached its halfway point. Here’s some of the talking points from our annual visit to Norfolk.
The tightest title battle in nine seasons
At the halfway stage of the 2022 season, just 11 points separate title contenders Luke Browning and Joel Granfors at the top of the standings. The pair have been extremely close on track (see below for an example of how close they got at Snetterton!) and that’s reflecting in the standings with just 11 points separating the pair as the first half of the season comes to a close. Not since the championship’s days as BRDC F4 in 2013 have things been closer. Back then, Jake Dalton led at the season midpoint by just six points over eventual champion Jake Hughes, and while Hughes was able to accelerate away from the pack in the final stages of that season, we’ll have to wait and see if that happens this time around…
Esterson keeping it on track
Douglas Motorsport’s Max Esterson may not have had quite as positive a weekend as at Donington, but the American is doing all the right things in the pursuit of the GB3 title. The New Yorker is the only driver in the top-10 to have scored points in every race during the first half of the season, and that’s paid dividends as he sits fourth overall and just over 50 points away from the championship leaders. Considering his lack of racing experience of any sort compared to those around him, it’s been a very encouraging start for Esterson in single-seater competition.
Grundtvig does it again
Danish driver Mikkel Grundtvig really has shown he’s the king of the reverse grid race! His victory at Snetterton was his second such triumph of the season, and his fourth overall in his GB3 career. Once more he controlled the race from the start, and despite a lot of heavy pressure behind, kept his cool to win by just a quarter of a second. Having shown he can lead from the front when the opportunity presents itself, Grundtvig is continuing to work on his qualifying pace to put him even closer to the pace for the first two races of each weekend.
Sagrera’s luck finally changes
Carlin’s Javier Sagrera entered the season with strong hopes of challenging for the title after a decent first year in the championship in 2021. Those hopes were hit in the first three weekends of the season after the Spaniard retired from the first race of each event, but at Snetterton, finally that trend turned on its head. After banking his first race one finish in seventh place, a stonking start from sixth on the grid in the second contest powered Sagrera to third place on the first lap after going around the outside of his rivals at Riches and Wilson. He held that position and even challenged the race leaders on occasion, as he claimed his first podium of the season. With a ninth place in the final event, Sagrera was one of only two drivers to finish each race in the top-10, and almost doubled his entire season score in just one weekend jumping him from 20th to 12th in the standings in just 48 hours.
New faces on the podium
The final race at Snetterton saw two new faces join the ever-growing list of podium finishers in this year’s championship, with 17 drivers having now earned silverware this season! Douglas Motorsport’s Marcos Flack and Elite’s James Hedley finished second and third in the final contest, with both drivers tucked up behind the rear wing of race winner Grundtvig and finishing within a second of the Dane. Both drivers have shown good pace this year, and though the podiums came in the reverse, it’s fair to say that a top-three finish beckoned for both contenders anyway. There’s just five drivers remaining to claim a podium this year for a clean sweep, and given the results of those contenders so far, it’s certain most, if not all of them, will take their turn on the rostrum soon.
Big quali improvement for Gilkes
Hillspeed’s Nick Gilkes, who sported a brand new helmet design at Snetterton, enjoyed his most promising weekend of the season yet, as the Formula Ford graduate planted his car firmly in the tight midfield pack in qualifying. Before this weekend, his best qualifying result had been a brace of 17th place starting positions at Oulton Park, but at Snetterton he bagged 13th and 11th on the grid for the opening two contests, just 0.725 seconds away from pole position. Keep an eye out for the improving Canadian at future races, as he continues to adapt to the challenges of slicks and wings racing.
Browning takes over most of the key stats at the halfway point
A look at the key stats at this time of the year always makes for interesting reading, and Luke Browning currently leads the way on almost all of them! The Hitech GP driver has the most points (239), has led the greatest number of laps (40), has led more races than any other driver (three), more fastest laps (four) and the highest amount of wins (three). He also has a share of the most pole positions (three) with Granfors, who tops that particular chart owing to more race one poles. The only marker he doesn’t top (yet) is the most points gained in the third race of each weekend, where Granfors has amassed an impressive overall gain of 31 positions across the four races so far!
The tightest of margins
The action has been seriously close this year, despite the challenges of a brand new, quicker GB3 car, and an influx of drivers fresh to the category. But things got even closer at Snetterton as just 1.4 seconds covered the top-21 drivers in qualifying, in one of the tightest sessions in recent memory around the three mile circuit. To put that into perspective; in a real world situation that is the equivalent of all 21 of those cars being within a 68-metre window of polesitter Callum Voisin around a lap. Now that’s a sight we’d love to see!