How Browning beat GB3’s Super Swede in a respectful season

The raw stats suggest Luke Browning was never in trouble on his way to winning the 2022 GB3 Championship, cementing his pre-season title favourite. Leading more wins, podiums and laps than his rivals, the Briton deserved the title, but the season’s story is one of a hard-fought battle for the championship.

The 2020 British Formula 4 champion had decided last season not to enter the category, but to concentrate on the German F4 series – finishing third – while his former F4 rival Zak O’Sullivan convincingly won the title. GB3 title.

PLUS: How Missile O’Sullivan dispelled painful memories with GB3 Glory

Despite a win at Oulton Park in a one-off appearance with Fortec Motorsports last year, Browning’s decision to commit to a full-time GB3 campaign with Hitech GP in 2022 in 2022 appeared to some as a sideways career move at best. There were no guarantees of success, especially as a new car – the Tatuus MSV-022 – was introduced ahead of the season with an increase of around 50 horsepower and 20-25% more downforce, which the teams had to get to grips with.

But on the opening round of Oulton, Browning was untouchable, recording a combination of double pole and victory, even as the weekend was blighted by a race retirement with completely reversed grid. But any thoughts that the season would be a walkover soon vanished.

“We were so fast at the start of the season, I mean even slowing ourselves down to make sure it wasn’t so obvious,” admits Browning. “Especially in these cold conditions, we just had the car completely under control.

“[But] people got going so much faster than we thought and we almost noticed it a little bit. It’s been a constant kind of progression, trying to stay ahead all the time.”

Two more podiums followed at Silverstone, but somewhat surprisingly Browning lost the championship lead as Fortec’s Joel Granfors moved three points ahead. The Swede, with a single British F4 victory to his name in 2021, had already proven himself to be a bit of a dark horse in the first round. He qualified on the front row of the grid twice before being demoted for race one after blocking during the session.

Browning started the year as he intended to continue dominantly at Oulton Park, but it didn’t always turn out that way.

Photo by: JEP/Motorsport Images

An opening race win at Silverstone and another podium lifted the Fortec driver to the top of the standings and marked him as a season-long title rival, with the points lead swapping between the two a whopping six times.

“He’s been an incredible opponent and I can’t talk about him enough, he’s probably one of the most underrated drivers in the paddock,” said Browning.

Granfors adds: “It has been a good year to compete with him. I think that has been a good experience for me, you really have to push 100% to beat him because he is very fast.”

Granfors had the initiative after Donington, where both retired in race one after being caught up in an accident, before another win for Browning at Snetterton put the title back in his favour.

During the trip to Belgium, Browning asserted his dominance by taking another extended pole/victory double at Spa, despite never having raced on the circuit before, and extending his lead in the standings to 30.5 points.

Hitech claimed the part was unavailable earlier this year due to a shortage of spare parts at the launch of the new car, which was confirmed by championship organizer MotorSport Vision. But the part had been available for that weekend

Then came the second visit to Silverstone. After securing pole for the opening race, Browning – along with Hitech GP teammates Cian Shields and Bryce Aron – was ruled out of the results due to a technical offence.

The problem centered on a piece of metal trim that sits on the leading edge of the shelf, but was missing from the Hitech machines. Most in the paddock agreed that running without the part had no performance advantage – although in theory the car could run lower. Hitech claimed the part was unavailable earlier this year due to a shortage of spare parts at the launch of the new car, which was confirmed by championship organizer MotorSport Vision. But for that weekend, the part was available and Browning was ordered to start all three races from the back.

“To put it on pole and lead it [the standings] going into the meeting with 30 or so points, and then getting all those points out was absolutely grueling,” he says. “But then I thought I should keep my head down and catch up. I had to do it [Granfors] in every race to do it and that’s where the racecraft and experience really helped me get through the pack and be smart in certain situations.

Granfors emerged as Browning's closest rival for the title

Granfors emerged as Browning’s closest rival for the title

Photo by: JEP/Motorsport Images

To make matters worse, Granfors secured his second, and what would prove to be the last, win of the season, and a further two podiums – including a sensational charge through the field from 18th in the race with full inverted starting position.

“I think I learned a lot through all the weekends, but Silverstone was a great weekend to learn overtaking,” says Granfors. “I think that was also one of the most educational weekends, if you can call it that.”

Browning lost the lead in the standings, but his 47 points from the encounter – his lowest total of the season apart from the first visit to Donington – proved crucial, as at the end of the year 46.5 points separated the pair.

Perhaps more importantly, Browning found another level over the last two events, scoring his two highest point totals over Brands Hatch (73) and Donington (76), all without taking a win. His handling in the first, in particular, indicated a racer who grabbed the championship by the neck.

Having qualified behind Granfors for both races, the 2022 Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year finalist rocketed ahead each time with decisive and solid opening laps to snatch vital points from his rival and regain a championship lead to win that he never lost again.

Before the final round at Donington, Browning literally put on a championship ride in race two. With most of the field on wet tires on a damp but soon drying track, he bid his time and eventually got ahead of early race leader Granfors who had run side-by-side through Goddards and Redgate – the respect between the pair clearly rising and off the job.

Browning added: “We haven’t bumped into each other once all season, which is rare for championship rivals.”

The title protagonists were certainly not the only drivers to impress, with Callum Voisin seamlessly making the jump to single-seaters with Carlin. The Ginetta Junior graduate was best of the rest for most of the season as he often matched the raw speed of Browning and Granfors to take three wins.

Granfors and Browning go wheel to wheel at Brands Hatch in one of the many good-natured duels the pair enjoyed this year

Granfors and Browning go wheel to wheel at Brands Hatch in one of the many good-natured duels the pair enjoyed this year

Photo by: JEP/Motorsport Images

He just lost to sophomore Tom Lebbon in the final standings. The Elite Motorsport driver proved himself a master at Silverstone with two wins and a well-judged performance in the wet-to-dry race at Donington.

JHR Developments driver Matthew Rees, the 2021 British F4 champion, and Max Esterson (Douglas Motorsport), winner of last year’s Walter Hayes Trophy, also took victory after flashes of speed, while seven different drivers triumphed in reverse races. starting position.

“We deserved it and it’s nice this year to be able to seal it and have absolutely no doubt I’m a deserved champion” Luke Browning

For Browning, his success makes him the only driver to secure the GB3 and British Formula 4 titles: “We deserved it and it’s nice to be able to seal it this year and I have absolutely no doubt that I am a deserved champion . It’s a nice feeling.”

Ranking the Top 5 GB3 Drivers of 2022

5.Max Esterson
Pips Matthew Rees to last spot after both took a win and two more podiums in their first GB3 campaigns. Elk suffered from a lack of pace at times, but the American stayed more out of trouble as he had also entered the season with less experience on slicks and wings.

4. Tom Lebbon
Reached his stride in the second half of the campaign, scoring wins in each of the last three rounds, with only Browning beating his season tally of four. Proved he was best of the rest but loses to Voisin here as it is his second year in the Championship.

3. Callum Voisin
Excelled in the first season of single-seaters, with three wins and the same number of pole positions (five) as Browning. Brands was the low point, having two accidents during the meeting, but beating Carlin teammates and second year drivers Roberto Faria and Javier Sagrera.

2. Joel Granfors
Despite less experience than Browning, the Swede kept him honest all season. Showed impressive racing rig, particularly in the second Silverstone full reversed-grid race, becoming the only driver to score a podium in every race at a meeting.

1.Luke Browning
Incredible consistency was the backbone of his campaign, achieving podiums in all but three races. No major mistakes made.

Browning racked up more wins and led more laps than anyone else on his way to the 2022 title

Browning racked up more wins and led more laps than anyone else on his way to the 2022 title

Photo by: JEP/Motorsport Images

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