Successful race team JHR Developments enjoyed a positive opening weekend in the GB3 Championship, claiming a podium finish with talented Welsh youngster Matthew Rees at Oulton Park.
Currently triple title holders in the F4 British Championship, where Matt claimed the Drivers’ and Rookie titles, while JHR secured the Teams’ honours, Oulton provided the first opportunity to see which competitors might emerge at the front.
The 16-year-old was quickly on the pace, despite some late damage to the car in testing the day prior, finishing fourth quickest with his fastest and second fastest times, which set the grid for races one and two, with the final contest being a reverse grid format.
There was a further boost ahead of the opening 14 lap race, with a post-qualifying penalty for another driver moving Matt up to third and he started well, almost gaining second position, before slotting in behind Roberto Faria. Unfortunately, with aerodynamics making overtaking difficult around the Cheshire venue, a clean opportunity to pass didn’t present itself, with the BRDC SuperStar crossing the line third.
It was a similar story for the race two, with Matt having another clean start but finding his progress thwarted by Joel Granfors ahead. While he was clearly quicker, he was unable to get a run to allow him a chance of scoring a second podium, finishing fourth, and scoring another good haul of points.
Starting in 16th for the reverse grid race, Matt knew it would be a tough task to make forward progress, especially as he raced on the most worn set of tyres he had left. Part of a huge train of cars, which stretched from sixth to 20th position, that hurt his tyres even more, and he was unable to keep the pressure up to the end of the race, being classified 16th.
The next rounds of the GB3 Championship will be held at Silverstone over the weekend of May 7/8, but JHR Developments will be back in action this weekend (April 23/24) defending all three F4 British Championship titles with 2021 race winners Joseph Loake and Georgi Dimitrov, who will be joined by young Australian racer Noah Lisle.
Matthew Rees: “Qualifying wasn’t the best result, but it was decent getting P4 for both races and then a grid penalty put us up to P3. I had a nice start to race one and maybe could have had my elbows out a bit more which would have got us second, but we got our first trophy of the year and a good number of points to open the season.
“I made a half decent start to race three but just couldn’t pass. We had on our worst tyres, and I think doing 14 laps behind other cars isn’t good for them, so they were dead. I tried to go forward but I lost time in the last few laps and just faded away, but we’ve had a lot better start to this season than we had last year, so I’m happy with how it has gone.”
Steven Hunter, Team Owner: “It wasn’t a bad weekend at all. I think unfortunately, Friday hampered our qualifying which made the job harder for Matthew during the race weekend, because it’s not a circuit on which you are going to overtake much. It’s a real pity but at the same time he’s had a bloody good go at it, but it meant for the race three we had no tyres left, because we’d been in the tracks of the cars in front, despite being quite clearly quicker than the cars in front.
“Overall, for our first weekend of the season and Matthew’s first in GB3, we’ve come away with a podium which we can’t really complain about. I think I’d have taken that before we started but realising how quick his pace has been, I know that there’s more to come.”