Cars in the wet at the race start

Strong on Saturday: John Bennett and McKenzy Cresswell navigate ‘treacherous’ Silverstone

With cloudy skies overhead, Round 2 of the 2023 GB3 Championship got underway at Silverstone. Qualifying and Race 1 were characterised by treacherous conditions on a rain-soaked circuit, but Rodin Carlin’s John Bennett excelled, taking a double pole position and a race win on track before a post-race penalty demoted him to second. Feeder Series caught up with him and Elite Motorsport’s McKenzy Cresswell, who started his weekend on the front foot following a tough Round 1.

By George Brabner

Both Bennett and Cresswell had a difficult season opener at Oulton Park contrary to expectations, the prior scoring only 14 points with the latter claiming a mere two. John Bennett had a challenging qualifying session and struggled to recover, whilst Cresswell suffered from a failed anti-roll bar bracket which put him back in the pack.

However, the pairing is already starting to make amends for their poor results.

Bennett reignites his season

John Bennett, who has shifted to Rodin Carlin from Elite Motorsport for 2023 to join Costa Toparis and fellow second-year driver Callum Voisin, turned up the pace on the opening day of action at Silverstone. In qualifying, he originally took a pair of second places as Douglas Motorsport’s Tymek Kucharczyk took back-to-back poles, but the Polish driver was disqualified for technical non-compliance, having vinyl over the bolts of his halo.

That promoted Bennett to his maiden pole, a position he had converted to first place on track with pressure from Joseph Loake behind. The JHR Developments driver jumped to second from fourth off the starting line and briefly seized the lead at Copse as well before Bennett retook it exiting the corner.

After the race, however, the stewards determined that Bennett had gone off track while retaking the position from Loake. As a result, the Rodin Carlin driver was demoted to second, giving Loake his second win of the season. Results of the race remained provisional until Sunday morning, when all investigations concluded and Loake’s victory was confirmed.

“First pole earlier today and first win, and first win in single-seaters ever! It’s awesome to get that out of the way. The car was fantastic. I really enjoyed it,” Bennett told Feeder Series after the race.

John Bennett (#27) took first on track at Silverstone, but a post-race penalty demoted him to P2 | Credit: Jakob Ebrey / GB3 Championship

“I went into the championship expecting to be up the sharp end like this weekend, but Round 1 was super disappointing. Just a bad performance on my end,” Bennett explained.

“So it was very important to get a good comeback here at Silverstone – double pole and a win, literally couldn’t be any better. It’s great for my confidence to know that Oulton was just a one-off. I can perform at the top.”

Bennett said he expects another top result in Race 2 tomorrow morning, which is forecast to run in dry conditions.

“Starting from first, you’d like to win. It should be dry, so a different type of challenge, but I think our pace has been good in the dry as well.”

Cresswell bounces back

Just like Bennett, McKenzy Cresswell is beginning to turn his season around. The Elite Motorsport driver had an encouraging pre-season, topping multiple days across testing, and this weekend he is finding his footing once more.

In a qualifying session that saw many drivers hampered by traffic and a red flag caused by Daniel Mavlyutov, Cresswell took seventh, rising to fifth by the end of Race 1. He wasn’t entirely satisfied with the performance but took a solid haul of points, the one thing he desperately needed after Oulton Park.

“I struggled for pace quite a bit in that [I] didn’t quite dial the car in. Given how bad Oulton Park was, I’ll take it. I got some points on the board and hopefully now we can look forward,” he said.

“It was a treacherous race. I couldn’t see anything in the first couple of laps. And even when I was about two seconds back from the car in front it was still just a wall of water, so it was very tricky.”

Sunday should bring clearer weather with Race 2 forecast to be dry, something he feels may bring better results.

“We know we’ve got pace in the dry. Still struggling a little bit in the wet, but it looks like tomorrow should be okay. So, hopefully, we can score good points tomorrow. After a write-off of a weekend at Oulton, it’s nice to get something,” Cresswell said.

Editor’s note, 6 May 2023, 21:05 CEST: This article was updated after publication to reflect that John Bennett had been demoted from first to second after receiving a post-race penalty. Results for Race 1, however, remained provisional until investigations concluded Sunday afternoon and Bennett’s demotion was made official, whereupon a further update was issued.

Header photo credit: Jakob Ebrey / GB3 Championship


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