Christian Mansell secured a top three finish in the Drivers' Championship thanks to a spectacular fifth podium finish of the season in the final meeting of the 2021 GB3 Championship at Donington Park.
The 16-year-old entered the final round of the season sitting third in the points, and knew that a strong weekend in Leicestershire would be enough to confirm a top three result in the championship after a sensational rookie season.
The AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers, VISA Global Logistics and Infinity Sports Management backed driver produced a strong showing throughout two days of testing leading up to the weekend, and that promise would transfer into Saturday's qualifying session.
Over the 25-minute timed showdown, Mansell put his Carlin car up into the top two on several occasions, working well with his team-mates to find a tow and gain those crucial extra tenths. Despite narrowing the gap to a mere 0.2s by the time a red flag stoppage curtailed the session early, Mansell would settle for sixth on the grid.
With pace to burn from his grid position, Mansell lined up sixth for race one later that afternoon. Unfortunately, a chaotic opening lap affected much of the field, beginning when a damaged Hitech GP car towards the sharp end of the field headed up to McLeans trailing its front wing. Contact was made, with Mansell among those involved as the field scattered.
The Australian rookie recovered from the rear of the field having avoided the gravel trap, climbing a further five spots to finish 13th in a race that also proved difficult for his main rivals for championship position.
Rain threatened ahead of race two the following day, Mansell racing in front of the Sky Sports F1 channel's cameras. The Carlin star, with two wins already this season, once again started from sixth on the grid but with conditions more to his liking underfoot.
Once the race got underway after a safety car start, Mansell, who races with support from Rush Performance, IOR Petroleum, Locker 27 and AMSL Diabetes Australia, charged up into fourth place with a fine move on Roman Bilinski early on, after which he began closing in on the top three ahead of him.
Catching fellow Aussie Bart Horsten on the final lap of the race, a tighter line heading through Coppice was enough to usurp the Hitech GP car by the chicane and snatch third place, taking a brilliant fifth podium of a fine maiden campaign.
Starting 16th in the final race, a chaotic contest ended with Mansell having to fight back from last place to end the race 14th on the road, ensuring a 100% finishing record and enough points to secure a top three position in the Drivers' Championship standings on his first year in GB3.
Christian Mansell:“It's been such a great year for us. As a rookie, to come in and get two wins, five podiums and finish in the top three is just an awesome achievement for us all.
"I always enjoy racing in the rain, so that second race was a great one for me. I kept pushing and then right at the end we got a good run on Bart and forced a mistake out of him while he was struggling.
"The Carlin team have just been so good to me this year, and I'm really grateful to them for everything they've done for me, so I'm pleased to have helped get them the Teams' title. Thank you to all those that have supported me - sponsors and fans - as it's made it even better."
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.