Granfors grabs GB3 points lead as TOCA supports thrill at Knockhill

Joel Granfors moved to the top of the GB3 Championship standings at Silverstone last weekend, as an off-track decision for title rival Luke Browning had huge ramifications. While in Scotland, there were the usual thrills and spills from the TOCA supports at Knockhill

Granfors grabs GB3 points lead as TOCA supports thrill at Knockhill

A hat-trick of podiums at Silverstone launched Joel Granfors to the top of the GB3 Championship standings, while an off-track decision had a dramatic effect on the title battle.

The Swede trailed championship rival Luke Browning by 30.5 points heading into the weekend, with the Briton securing pole for Saturday’s opening 10-lap encounter. But Browning and his Hitech GP team-mates were stripped of all qualifying times due to a technical infringement on their machines, handing Granfors the perfect opportunity to move himself to the head of the points.

Arguably the fastest driver across the weekend, though, was Carlin’s Callum Voisin, the teenager promoted to pole for the first race and already occupying the position on outright pace for race two. But in both races he fluffed the start, with Fortec Motorsports racer Granfors taking a lights-to-flag victory in the opening encounter after Voisin also dropped behind Carlin team-mate Javier Sagrera.  An outside move at Stowe on lap six eventually secured Voisin the runner-up spot, with fellow Carlin driver Roberto Faria also demoting Sagrera on the penultimate tour.

Browning, meanwhile, had initially surged through the order, climbing 10 spots on the opening lap from the back of the grid, and he eventually finished 10th. He achieved 11th in the sequel, with the aerodynamic wake putting overtaking at a premium.

Voisin’s poor start in race two allowed Elite Motorsport’s Tom Lebbon to lead from the front row, while Granfors and Sagrera again moved ahead of Voisin before the end of the first lap. But Voisin was handed a small reprieve when the safety car was deployed following a collision between James Hedley (JHR Developments) and McKenzy Cresswell (Chris Dittmann Racing) at Village. Cresswell was tipped into several rolls and was declared unfit for the final race, while Hedley was disqualified from the results.

At the restart, Voisin repeated his race-one pass on Sagrera, before getting a better run through Copse and taking second from Granfors a lap later. Thereafter, Voisin shadowed Lebbon and was close enough to make a move to the outside into the sharp right of Village on the final tour. Despite running off track, he got a better exit from the Loop, but his front wing made contact with the right-rear tyre of Lebbon’s car.

In a dramatic finish, Lebbon took the flag with a deflated tyre, followed by Voisin, minus front wing, and Granfors – the trio covered by just over 0.5 seconds. More drama was to follow when Lebbon was initially disqualified for setting a fastest sector time through a yellow flag zone, before he was reinstated.

Overtaking around Silverstone’s Grand Prix layout may have been difficult, but that didn’t prevent some sensational racing in the fully reversed-grid contest. Marcos Flack (Douglas Motorsport) jumped from sixth into the lead on the opening lap and cleared off into the distance while, behind, Faria eventually proved best of the rest.

But Granfors starred. He climbed from 18th on the grid to the final step of the podium to leave Silverstone with an 11.5-point advantage from Browning, who took fifth in the final race from 20th.

TOCA Knockhill: Three different British F4 winners across frantic races

Strong start for Joseph Loake helped him to his first British F4 victory in 2022

Strong start for Joseph Loake helped him to his first British F4 victory in 2022

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Three different drivers shared the victories in British Formula 4 as Alex Dunne’s championship lead took another minor dent at Knockhill.

Carlin’s Ugo Ugochukwu took a double pole in damp but drying conditions, but the McLaren junior was bested by fellow front-row starter Joseph Loake on the run down to Duffus Dip. Loake, who insisted that the earlier conditions had aided his qualifying effort, seemed equally surprised by his subsequent trouble-free run to victory, the JHR Developments driver’s first of the season.

Ugochukwu’s race unravelled as the contest wore on. While defending heavily from squabbling title rivals Dunne and Oliver Gray, he went off at the chicane and dropped out of the points, leaving Dunne and Gray to inherit second and third.

The chicane proved to be something of a hotspot for trouble over the course of the weekend, and it claimed reversed-grid polesitter Adam Fitzgerald before the second race had even begun, the Irishman spinning on the lap to the grid.

In his absence, Loake’s JHR team-mate Georgi Dimitrov made it two wins on the spin for the Derbyshire squad, fending off local lad Oliver Stewart’s early challenge through Duffus and McIntyres before building an eventual five-second margin.

The chicane would spell trouble for several drivers over the course of the race, including Stewart, and it was a wheel dipped into the gravel there by Aiden Neate that eventually allowed Eduardo Coseteng through for second at Clark. Neate later came under fire from the battling quartet of Louis Sharp, Dunne, Gray and Daniel Guinchard, but held his nerve to round out the podium.

At the second time of asking, Ugochukwu was peerless from pole, but it was a stall for Hitech driver Dunne alongside that made the headlines. Gray couldn’t get close enough to strike at his Carlin team-mate, but second means he thins the gap in the standings to 41 points with 12 races left to run. Loake took third to complete his strongest weekend of the campaign to date.

Ronan Pearson secured a double in Mini Challenge

Ronan Pearson secured a double in Mini Challenge

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Ronan Pearson lives just a few miles from the Knockhill track at which he works as an instructor. And the Excelr8 driver put that local knowledge to excellent use last weekend to take two Mini Challenge wins, and only narrowly missed out on making it a hat-trick.

Pearson’s victories in the opening two races were contrasting triumphs. He was comfortable in the first, winning by seven seconds over fellow Scot Joe Tanner, aided by Dan Zelos retiring with a suspension problem.

But he had to work much harder in race two, spending the majority of the contest with team-mate Jason Lockwood right in his shadow after he passed Tanner early on. Lockwood could never quite mount a full attack, so Pearson clung on to take his second success.

“I’m a little bit speechless and quite emotional,” said Pearson afterwards. “To do the double on home soil is incredible.”

Things could have been even more incredible in the partially reversed-grid race – Pearson was challenging Alex Denning for the victory after early leader Max Coates had a driveshaft failure. But the race finished under the safety car, preventing a possible treble.

Further back, points leader Sam Weller’s best result was third, but he still extended his advantage to 51 as his rivals hit strife. Alongside Zelos’s woes, Jack Mitchell suffered a car failure off the line in the opener, ruining his weekend.

Penalty for Adam Smalley enabled Will Martin to win Knockhill finale

Penalty for Adam Smalley enabled Will Martin to win Knockhill finale

Photo by: Porsche

Will Martin closed to one point off Kiern Jewiss by winning the second Porsche Carrera Cup GB race in Scotland. Martin’s Richardson Racing team-mate, stand-in driver Josh Malin, was slow off the line, allowing Adam Smalley and Martin to pass.

The pair then battled for the entire race, never more than a second apart, until Smalley was given a 5s penalty for a track-limits infringement, handing the win to Martin. Smalley was frustrated but could take solace from setting a new lap record.

Gus Burton won the shortened first race of the day after a collision off the line brought out red flags on the first lap. Third-placed Matthew Graham was slow away and, with the pack unsighted as they sped down to the first turn, he was hit by Ryan Ratcliffe, setting off a chain reaction. Thankfully, no one was hurt but it eliminated five cars from the restarted race.

It was then the Century Motorsport machine of Burton that led the way ahead of Team Parker Racing man Jewiss who, knowing his rival wasn’t in championship contention, let him take the win as he focused on the title battle. Charles Rainford and Josh Stanton also celebrated with two wins apiece in the Pro-Am and Am class respectively to extend their leads.

While Harri Reynolds had a tough event, Josh Rowledge scored 100 points

While Harri Reynolds had a tough event, Josh Rowledge scored 100 points

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

The Ginetta Junior pendulum has swung firmly in Josh Rowledge’s favour after a weekend of hugely contrasting fortunes for him and fellow title contender Harri Reynolds at Knockhill.

While Rowledge excelled with two wins and a second place for 100 points, Reynolds, who had finished every race in the top five prior to the weekend, collected just seven with a double DNF and a lowly 14th.

It was Maurice Henry who won the opener in Scotland, taking the lead from polesitter Sonny Smith at the hairpin on lap one and leading home Rowledge.

The points leader shot into a lead of over three seconds in race two, but was soon checking his mirrors as Joe Warhurst hunted him down, just 0.3s separating the pair at the flag.

Last year’s runner-up Liam McNeilly scored his long-awaited first podium of the season from 12th on the grid in that one, and challenged Rowledge for the race-three win. After running nose to tail for multiple laps, an attempted move coming out of McIntyres resulted in contact between the two, which gave Rowledge the breathing room needed to win. Will Macintyre, who holds title aspirations of his own, joined them on the podium.

James Kellett kept Aston Millar at bay in first two contests

James Kellett kept Aston Millar at bay in first two contests

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

James Kellett continued his sensational start to the Ginetta GT4 Supercup season with two wins at Knockhill, although a final-race incident tainted an otherwise supreme weekend in Scotland.

Kellett topped the timesheets once again in qualifying, and he took lights-to-flag victories in the opening two races with Aston Millar following him home in both. That made it seven wins in a row for Kellett, beating Tom Sharp’s 2011 record of most consecutive overall wins in the series.

The reversed-grid finale was a very different story, however. Mechanical retirements for front-row starters Henry Dawes and Tom Emson elevated Millar to the race lead. But Kellett was determined to complete his hat-trick and made a move into the hairpin, with contact to the rear of Millar spinning him around and ending his race.

After the surreal sight of Kellett standing on the podium on his own, his celebrations were cut short when he was removed from the result due to the Millar incident.

With no G56 Pros therefore classified, it was Am-class duo Wes Pearce and Colin White who occupied the top two places on the results sheet, with Luke Reade third as he completed a G55 class treble.

Reports by Stefan Mackley, Simon Paice and Tom Baker. Photography by Oliver Reid, Jakob Ebrey Photography/Motorsport Images. Want more reports from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe today and never miss your weekly fix of motorsport with Autosport magazine

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