• Swedish GB3 rookie finishes runner-up in Belgium
• Action-packed triple-header in the Ardennes
Joel Granfors picked up the seventh podium of his rookie GB3 Championship campaign this weekend as the British-based series made its annual summer trip to Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps.
Racing at the famed 7.004 km Formula 1 track for the first time of his career, Granfors wasted no time settling in, topping one of Friday’s practice sessions and qualifying second and third respectively for the opening two races – despite using only one set of tyres.
The first race of the triple-header meeting saw Granfors come home second to main title rival Luke Browning and, with his remaining set of new tyres still available, things were looking more promising still entering Race 2.
Granfors duly grasped the opportunity, coming out on top of a three-wide battle with Browning and Branden Oxley down the long Kemmel straight to snatch the lead on the opening lap.
Oxley tried to hang it out around the outside of Granfors through the following Les Combes section, but ran wide and retired with damaged suspension – tagging Granfors’ Fortec machine as he bounced back across the track.
The race then quickly turned into yet another Granfors/Browning showing, the duo lapping over a second per lap faster than their rivals. Browning managed to re-take the lead and win, 1.5s ahead of Granfors who thus celebrated his second podium in the space of a few hours beneath the striking Belgian sun.
However, a controversial stewards decision – handed out the day after the race – retroactively stripped Granfors of his Race 2 podium. In a surprising development, the Swede was handed a ten-second time penalty for the situation involving Oxley on lap one, demoting him to fourth in the final classification.
”Spa is a fantastic circuit and we’ve had close, tight racing this weekend,” says Joel Granfors. “For me, the situation with Oxley was a clear racing incident and I don’t agree with the penalty, but it is what it is. Anyway, the pace has been strong once again. We were lacking a few tenths to Luke, but we’ve had everyone else pretty much under control, and for my first time here at Spa I’m certainly pleased with my performance.”
In the concluding reverse-grid Race 3 on Sunday, Granfors and Browning lined up at the back of the grid. In an eventful encounter, which featured a red-flag stoppage and two safety car interventions, the final results were eventually counted back to the end of the very first lap, with Granfors classified 16th and Browning 18th. Only half points were awarded.
Following this weekend’s races, Granfors remains in second place in the overall GB3 standings, 30.5 points adrift of Browning.
The GB3 Championship will now return to the UK, where racing resumes in just one week’s time at Silverstone. Joel Granfors scored a lights-to-flag victory at the British GP track in the second round of the season earlier this year.
Rd. 5 | Spa-Francorchamps
After 5/8 rounds
1: Luke Browning (GBR), 311 p.
2: Joel Granfors (SWE), 280.5 p.
3: Max Esterson (USA), 232.5 p.
4: Callum Voisin (GBR), 206 p.
5: Roberto Faria (BRA), 203.5 p.