A dominant double victory at Donington Park (July 9-11) saw Gloucestershire’s Zak O’Sullivan extend his lead in the British F3 Championship to nearly 50 points after three meetings.
The 16-year-old Carlin driver took a commanding pole position for both of the opening races, before making a perfect start on both occasions and leading every lap to the chequered flag.
The only downside to his weekend was a crash with title rival Reece Ushijima (Hitech) in the reverse grid finale, which saw Ushijima hit with a five-place grid penalty for the next race meeting.
O’Sullivan leaves Donington with a 47-point advantage in the standings with a third of the season gone.
Qualifying was a sign of things to come with the BRDC SuperStars member lapping more than 0.3 seconds faster than Ushijima to take pole for race one, with his second-fastest lap just under 0.3 seconds faster than Alex Connor (Arden) to give him pole for the second race.
O’Sullivan was never troubled in the opener, pulling away from Ushijima to finish nearly five seconds ahead at the flag and taking fastest lap into the bargain.
Race two again saw O’Sullivan make the perfect getaway, but a lock-up early on allowed Connor to close up to his tail. However, Connor had his mirrors full of the duelling Hitech pair of Ushijima and Bart Horsten, allowing O’Sullivan to eke out a gap of just over a second at the flag.
The usual chaos of the reverse-grid finale saw O’Sullivan and Ushijima battling towards the tail of the field and when the #51 Carlin got alongside Ushijima on the run to the Melbourne hairpin, the Hitech moved across and the ensuing contact put both cars out of the race.
Despite the final race setback, O’Sullivan, from Withington, near Cirencester, was delighted with his weekend’s work.
He said: “It was the first weekend where we’ve been on the pace of the front runners from the start and were even a bit quicker than them, which was a positive step.
“We made an adjustment to the car which was to my liking and that showed in qualifying with the double pole. Both times I was able to get the start and lead from the front.
“In the second race, I had a big lock-up which cost me some time and allowed the others to close up, but I just concentrated on getting a good exit from the chicane consistently, so they couldn’t challenge me into the hairpins at the end of the lap.
“The third race wasn’t ideal, to put it bluntly. I got a good exit from the chicane and Ushijima just kept moving across on me. But we both didn’t finish, so there’s no gain for him in the championship.”
Next up is the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium (July 23-25), the F3 championship’s one overseas meeting of the year and a first trip to the track for O’Sullivan.
“There really is no pressure for me at Spa, as I think all but three or four drivers know the track and have raced there before,” said O’Sullivan.
“I just have two sessions on the Friday to learn the track and then it is straight into qualifying, which will be pretty intense!”