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The eagerly-anticipated 2023 rematch taking place on a new stage in GB3

Last year’s British F4 title rivals Louis Sharp and William Macintyre will be up against each other again in GB3, but some strong opposition will try to ensure they don’t have things all their own way

Will Macintyre (GBR) - Hitech Pulse-Eight and Louis Sharp (NZL) - Rodin Carlin

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

With another strong field of exciting rookies mixed with familiar faces, and a visit to the Hungaroring for the first time, the GB3 Championship looks set to thrive again this season. While some of the continuing drivers will be among the favourites for the crown, a potential rematch of last year’s British Formula 4 title fight between Louis Sharp and William Macintyre is an intriguing prospect as the pair make the step up.

Sharp is entering his third year with the rebranded Rodin Motorsport team, which guided Callum Voisin to the 2023 GB3 title, and the Kiwi’s chances of winning back-to-back single-seater championships have been boosted by a strong pre-season ahead of this weekend’s Oulton Park opener.

“There is a lot to learn,” says the 16-year-old. “I am a rookie compared to some of these guys in their second or third years, but I’ve got full confidence in myself and the team and there’s no reason why we won’t be fighting for wins and the championship at the end of the year.

“It’s helping a lot,” he adds on remaining with Rodin. “It fills me with a lot of confidence but also it feels like home. I’m really familiar with how everything works, and I couldn’t ask for a better place to be.”

Also familiar will be the threat from Macintyre, who was runner-up to Sharp in British F4 in his first year racing single-seaters – having previously starred in Ginetta Junior. And, like his rival, Macintyre has the benefit of continuity by remaining with Hitech GP.

“He’s at Rodin, I’m at Hitech again – two of the best teams in GB3 – so I guess it’s going to be another one this year,” he says on the chances of battling Sharp again. “It’s both our first years, hopefully we can fight.

“I’ve got a lot of support behind me, we’ve all got a really good relationship. The car’s good enough, so it’s just about me getting the best out of it. I’m getting used to the aero and finding the limits, every time I get in the car I’m getting faster.”

Reigning F4 champion Sharp is looking forward to renewing his rivalry with Macintyre in GB3, but there are other likely contenders too

Reigning F4 champion Sharp is looking forward to renewing his rivalry with Macintyre in GB3, but there are other likely contenders too

Photo by: JEP

However, Macintyre is also likely to face strong competition from team-mate Tymek Kucharczyk, who has switched squads following a fast but inconsistent rookie GB3 campaign with Douglas Motorsport. Budget issues eventually took their toll in 2023 but the Pole feels better prepared this time around.

“Things that happened last year were not too nice,” he reflects. “It took me out of the rhythm a bit. I hope it will be better [this year] and we can just focus on driving. This is a team that I can fight for the championship with, that’s the main plan. They know what I’m capable of, I know what I’m capable of and we can now push on. I just need to finish the job on track.”

But, away from the Hitech and Rodin powerhouses, there are several other drivers who could play a part in this season’s title fight. As a third-year driver, McKenzy Cresswell will be many people’s favourite, especially as the 18-year-old remains with Elite Motorsport, who he finished fourth in the standings with in 2023.

"We’re learning every session about the new tyre. Everyone’s in the same boat so it’s just about who can adapt faster" 
McKenzy Cresswell

“The initial plan was F3, and that was looking quite likely for a while, but the budget just wasn’t there,” he explains. “So, it was basically either switch disciplines and try something new or come back for another season and that’s what we’ve done.”

Cresswell has left no stone unturned over the winter with the sole aim of becoming champion, and has topped four out of six official pre-season test days.

“A lot has changed behind the scenes,” he reveals. “Elite have put in a great effort to improve on what was needed last year, so just trying to make sure that, when we show up to round one, everything is as good as it can be.”

John Bennett is another driver to remain in GB3 for a third term following a tricky year with Rodin Carlin that ended with him 10th in the standings. A switch to reigning teams’ champion JHR Developments, however, seems to have reinvigorated the 20-year-old, who has shone in testing.

“It’s a fresh start,” Bennett says. “Putting last year behind me, you need to learn from it but in a lot of ways just want to move on, come to a new team, fresh start and see what we can do.

Bennett is hoping a switch to JHR can reinvigorate his career as he embarks on a third season of GB3

Bennett is hoping a switch to JHR can reinvigorate his career as he embarks on a third season of GB3

Photo by: JEP

“I showed pace at times last year, but I think this year will be about maximising every weekend and being consistently up the front. Going into my third year there’s an expectation to do well, but I think we’ve settled in really nicely with JHR and the testing results so far have been pretty strong.”

Elsewhere, VRD by Arden is fielding an all-American line-up, with Noah Ping its most likely title contender having won twice last year. His team-mate Nikita Johnson will make his debut at Spa in June after turning 16 and could quickly become a frontrunner, having already accumulated several impressive single-seater accolades in his homeland since the age of 12.

McLaren F1 junior Ugo Ugochukwu is another part-time contender as he plans to tackle four rounds with Rodin alongside his full-time Formula Regional European Championship assault, and looks a likely victory contender at the Oulton Park opener. 

The introduction of a new tyre could also prove a factor in who comes out on top. Manufactured out of a new base in Brazil, the Pirelli compound has taken longer to reach its operating window in the cool testing temperatures.

“We’re learning every session about the new tyre,” says Cresswell. “Everyone’s in the same boat so it’s just about who can adapt faster.”

Another tweak for this year is race three will no longer feature a full reversed grid, instead just the top 12 from qualifying will be inverted. The addition of the Hungaroring to the calendar means five of the eight rounds will take place on current F1 circuits, something that has been well received among this year’s drivers as they try to emulate last season’s top three and use GB3 as a stepping stone to the F1 support bill in F3.

After impressive performances in testing, can Cresswell start the season on the front foot?

After impressive performances in testing, can Cresswell start the season on the front foot?

Photo by: JEP

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