Christian Mansell charged to a superb fourth podium finish of his rookie GB3 Championship season at Oulton Park last weekend (11/12 September), a result that maintains his chase for second spot in the 2021 standings with one meeting remaining.
The 16-year-old from Newcastle, New South Wales, travelled to Cheshire sitting a superb second in the GB3 Championship standings ahead of the penultimate trio of races, looking to add to the two wins he has already collected in his debut season in the series.
A mixture of wet and dry conditions greeted the young Aussie over a combined six test sessions held over Thursday and Friday in the build-up to the weekend, with Mansell and his Carlin team showing that they would be a competitive force once more with consistently strong times.
Heading into a hugely crucial qualifying session at a circuit notoriously difficult to overtake around in single-seater racing, the AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers, VISA Global Logistics and Infinity Sports Management backed driver was rapid out of the blocks to tail his team-mate Zak O'Sullivan in the early phase as he hunted for the perfect lap.
Mansell's promising session would be hit by officialdom in the end, losing three of his lap times to track limits including one while sitting inside the top three for the opening two races of the weekend. He would recover however, punching in a pair of hot laps in the closing minutes to grab sixth on the grid, with fifth for the second contest.
Knowing he had pace to burn, Mansell gave chase to fellow Australian Bart Horsten in the first race of the weekend later that Saturday afternoon. Despite having a good run on his rival coming out of Cascades on several occasions, the dirty air given off by the car ahead meant passing opportunities were limited. Mansell took the chequered flag a solid sixth, which soon became fifth after a post-race penalty for a car ahead on the road.
Mansell started race two of the weekend from fifth on the grid on Sunday, and again chased Horsten all the way until the bitter end in a much more action-packed encounter. The drama began when team-mate O'Sullivan retired with contact ahead in the battle for the lead, before two Fortec Motorsport team-mates themselves unceremoniously to Mansell into second. Red flags waved however to end a challenge for the win, before post-race confusion around a red flag stoppage resulted in an amended result putting him third.
Mansell, who races with support from Rush Performance, IOR Petroleum, Locker 27 and AMSL Diabetes Australia, would have one last fight in damp conditions as rain fell in time for race three, the reverse grid putting him back in 11th place. A chaotic first lap hindered Mansell who fell to the back of the field in the squabbling, but he proceeded to charge back through the order, disposing of several cars at Knickerbrook chicane on his way to 11th place.
Christian Mansell:“It's been a weekend of ups and downs really. A rollercoaster for us and we came so close to a win in the end.
"We definitely had the pace in the car and that showed in qualifying, but losing those laps was a real shame as we could have been even further up than we still were.
"That was annoying, and in race one there wasn't much we could do in the dirty air, but we got good points and then the second race was wild. I was focusing on [Ayrton] Simmons at the end in our battle for second in the championship, and with the cars going off ahead I was coming at Bart so fast. Another lap and who knows.
"We're still right in that fight for second and we've been to Donington once so we can use what we've learned to help us. Carlin cars will be strong there, so I'm looking forward to it."
Mansell enters the final round of the GB3 Championship hoping to end his maiden season as the series runner-up, sitting three points adrift as he heads to the Donington Park finale on 16/17 October.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.