Home Features 2024 GB3 season preview: Can series rookies beat the old guard?

2024 GB3 season preview: Can series rookies beat the old guard?

by Steve Whitfield

Photo: Mat Acton Photography

GB3 has been on the rise since its rebrand from BRDC British F3 in 2021, and it looks set to grow further this season, with another exciting blend of youth and experience going into battle this weekend at Oulton Park

Under its previous guise as Carlin, Rodin Motorsport fielded the champion in five of the last eight seasons, including Callum Voisin last year. The Rodin driver most likely to add their name to that list in 2024 is Louis Sharp, who is aiming to win back-to-back car racing titles following his British Formula 4 success last year and having been in the top five on all six of GB3’s pre-season test days. The 16-year-old New Zealander is entering his third year with the team and believes that continuity will help him hit the ground running at the next rung on the single-seater ladder.

“To be with them fills me with a lot of confidence but also it feels like home,” he says. “I’m really familiar with how everything works and I really couldn’t ask for a better place to be. There is a lot to learn, I am a rookie compared to some of these guys in their second or third year, but I’ve got full confidence in myself but also in the team and I think there’s no reason why we won’t be fighting for wins and fighting for the championship at the end of the year.”

French teenager Arthur Rogeon is the only Rodin driver with prior GB3 experience, having finished 21st in the 2023 standings in his first year of car racing with Chris Dittmann Racing.

McLaren Formula 1 junior Ugo Ugochukwu will be reunited with his 2022 British F4 team-mate Sharp at Rodin for four rounds, including this weekend at Oulton Park. He was second fastest in the pre-season test at the track, but the American’s main focus this year will be his Formula Regional European Championship campaign with Prema, who he won the Euro 4 crown and was Italian F4 runner-up with last year.

Hitech GP boasts a strong line-up for its fifth year in GB3, but appear to be slightly behind its main rivals heading into the season if testing is anything to go by. Stepping up from British F4 with the Silverstone-based squad is William Macintyre, who was runner-up to Sharp in his first year racing single-seaters, and will be hoping for a rematch with his rival this season.

Macintyre remains with Hitech GP from British F4

“It’s been pretty smooth,” he says of transitioning to the GB3 car. “Just getting used to the aero and finding the limits. I’m getting there, step by step, every time I get in the car I’m getting faster. I’ve got a lot of support behind me at Hitech. We’ve made a good relationship already and I know all of them for over a year now, so it’s going pretty well. The car’s good enough, so it’s just about me getting the best out of it.”

Macintyre will likely face strong internal competition from Tymek Kucharczyk, who shone in the early part of his rookie campaign in 2023 with Douglas Motorsport, scoring two podiums before a late-season dip in form as persistent budget issues behind the scenes eventually took their toll. Despite some testing struggles leading to a change of tub on the eve of this season, the Pole is feeling better prepared this time around.

“Things that happened last year were not too nice,” he reflects. “It took me out of the rhythm a bit so I hope for sure it will be better [this season] and we can just focus on driving. This is a team that I can fight for the championship with, that’s the main plan. So far it’s been better than last year, I feel more confident in the car.”

Hitech’s academy member Gerrard Xie will race for the team this year after racing for Hillspeed in 2023 and coming 20th in the standings after winning the season-ending reversed-grid race. He began 2024 in FRegional Oceania, taking one win en route to seventh in the points, and has looked close to the pace of his team-mates in GB3 testing.

Embarking on its fourth GB3 season is Elite Motorsport, which looks set for it best campaign yet. Third-year driver McKenzy Cresswell will start as one of the strong title favourites after taking a maiden win at Silverstone, which has proved a strong hunting ground for Elite, and coming fourth in the 2023 standings. The 18-year-old’s chances have been boosted by topping four of the pre-season test days, and lapping 0.3 seconds under GB3’s lap record at Silverstone.

“It is just testing but it’s nice to have that confidence boost going into round one,” he says. “It’s always nice to end at the top, I think there’s still more to come from it so it’s positive so far.

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

“The initial plan was Formula 3, we had seats that we could have taken but the budget just wasn’t there,” adds Cresswell, who took part in two FIA F3 Championship rounds with PHM Racing last year. “So it was basically switch disciplines and try something new or come back for another season and that’s what we’ve done.

“A lot has changed behind the scenes. I’ve been working on myself as much as possible. Elite have put in a great effort to improve what needed to be on last year. So just trying to make sure that when we show up to round one everything is as good as it can be.”

Jarrod Waberski has opted to join Elite after coming ninth with one podium as a rookie at Fortec Motorsports in 2023. He’s slipped slightly under the radar going into his second campaign, which might be of benefit to the South African who could be a dark horse.

“One of the reasons I signed [with Elite] was because I knew McKenzy was going to sign as well,” he reveals. “It’s good to have him here because we can both work on making the cars as quick as possible and getting the best results we can.

“The year of experience has definitely helped. I’ve come here knowing what I want and what I need. The team has been really good with that as well. I did a test with them at the end of last year and we were quick straight away. Sarah’s my engineer, she’s got a lot of experience so we clicked straight away. “

Hugo Schwarze meanwhile remains with Elite for his single-seater debut, having been runner-up in entry-level sportscar series Ginetta Junior last year with the team. Having done only one year of karting prior to that, the German is one of the most inexperienced drivers on the grid, but has adapted well to the GB3 car so far.

JHR Developments will look to John Bennett to spearhead the defence of its teams’ title. Bennett will race for this third team in as many years, and after a difficult spell with Carlin last year looks reinvigorated heading into round one at Oulton after going fastest there in testing. He has already done some racing in 2024, coming 23rd in FRegional Middle East.

Heuzenroeder and Bennett have put in some fast testing times for JHR

“It’s been going very well,” says the 20-year-old. “Going into my third year there’s an expectation to do well, but I think we’ve settled in really nicely with JHR and the testing results so far have been pretty strong.

“It’s just a fresh start. Putting last year behind me in some ways, you need to learn from it but in a lot of ways just want to move on, come to a new team and see what we can do. I showed pace at times last year with the double pole at Silverstone but I think this year will be about maximising every weekend and being consistently up the front.”

Racing alongside him are Patrick Heuzenroeder and Josh Irfan, who were 19th and 12th respectively in British F4 last year. Heuzenroeder did two GB3 rounds with CDR last year and made the podium in the reversed-grid race at Donington Park. The Australian, who will be mentored by former F1 and sportscar ace David Brabham, was second fastest at last week’s Silverstone test. Irfan won twice as a 15-year-old in British F4, and also finished on the podium in GB4 at Oulton Park.

American outfit Velocity Racing Development has extended its collaboration with Arden for a third GB3 season, and will field an all-American line-up from round three onwards. Noah Ping is its most likely title contender, having won twice with the team last year en route to 12th in the standings.

“We did a lot of work over the winter and it’s paying off,” he reveals. “We’ve got a good car this year. We did a lot of development work last year and especially the last two rounds and over the winter we made a huge step.”

Having only started his racing career in 2022 in Formula Ford 1600, Shawn Rashid experienced a difficult rookie GB3 campaign with Douglas Motorsport last year and decided to end his season a round early. The 27-year-old has made a significant step forward since joining VRD by Arden, based on his test pace.

One of the most exciting drivers to join this year’s grid is VRD’s teenage prospect Nikita Johnson, who has has to wait until round three to make his European racing debut due to GB3’s minimum age limit of 16.

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

The 15-year-old has already racked up an impressive number of wins over the last two years on the Road to Indy ladder, where age limits are less restrictive, and currently sits second in USF Pro 2000 after winning at the opening round in St. Petersburg.

“I’m going to get a lot of experience and racecraft in both series,” Johnson says of his programmes on both sides of the Atlantic. “The main thing is how well I can adapt car to car and the [different] timezones.” Taking his place for the first two GB3 rounds is James Hedley, who won with the team last year at Oulton and Snetterton.

Another American joining GB3 is Colin Queen, who continues with Fortec from GB4 where he came fourth with 10 podiums in 2023. “We’ve not had as many days in the car as everyone else so we are on the back foot a bit with car set-up and the tyres but we’re definitely getting there,” he says.

Edward Pearson also remains with Fortec for a second season. He was 19th last year with two reversed-grid podiums.

Queen’s 2023 team-mate Aditya Kulkarni is also graduating from GB4, signing with Hillspeed on the eve of the season. The 16-year-old’s haul of four podiums put him fifth in the GB4 standings, and he was 18th quickest in his only day of GB3 testing at Donington earlier this month. Former Mercedes-AMG F1 junior Daniel Guinchard and 2022 GB4 champion Nikolas Taylor have also tested with Hillspeed but have so far not announced any racing plans.

CDR has the most inexperienced line-up, as this weekend will mark Flynn Jackes‘ first racing start since the 2021 GB3 season finale. His debuting team-mate Seb Murray was 30th in F4 United Arab Emirates then did the last two GB4 rounds in 2023, and Rashib Jain – graduating from Indian F4 where he was seventh – is so far only confirmed for round one.

Douglas also ran Guinchard in testing, but won’t be on the grid unless it signs any drivers. FF1600 frontrunner Ammonite Motorsport initially intended to join GB3, but Formula Scout understands it has now put its Tatuus MSV-022 car up for sale.

Sharp has been one of the fastest in testing

What’s new for 2024?

As in previous years, the season will feature eight rounds. The Hungaroring will be visited for the first time, in place of Snetterton, forming part of a three-round European leg across June and July alongside Spa-Francorchamps and Zandvoort. With Silverstone again hosting two events, five rounds will be taking place on F1 tracks. This has been well received amongst drivers hoping to graduate to F3 and beyond in the future, and GB3 will also award FIA superlicence points for the first time.

There has been a tweak to the format of the third race of each weekend, which previously utilised a fully-reversed grid. Now, only qualifying’s top 12 will be reversed for the grid, and points scored for positions gained in that race has been capped to 12.

GB3 will use a new Pirelli tyre compound this season due to the Italian supplier switching production to its factory in Brazil. In the cooler conditions of testing in recent weeks, the tyre has taken slightly longer to reach its operating window, which could mean drivers not having optimum grip until their second flying laps in qualifying. There has been less drop-off over longer distances which could impact on races in warmer conditions.

“We’re learning every session about the new tyre,” says Cresswell. “There’s things that we need to improve on and figure out before round one. It’s not that different, everyone’s in the same boat so it’s just about who can adapt faster.”


Seven drivers to watch in GB4

The F4-spec GB4 series enters its third season, and 14 drivers are so far confirmed for this weekend’s opening round. As well as a £50,000 prize up for grabs for this year’s champion, a new €30,000 (£25,652) contribution towards a seat in F1 Academy has been created for the highest-placed female driver. Who will likely be the standout drivers on the GB4 grid?

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Linus Granfors Fortec Motorsports

The 16-year-old brother of 2022 GB3 runner-up Joel Granfors is only confirmed for round one, but having shown lap record pace during his sole day in the car at Silverstone last week is a likely victory contender. He is highly rated back home in Sweden and dominated his second season in the Formula Renault 1.6-spec Formula Nordic with 13 wins from 15 starts.

Alisha Palmowski Elite Motorsport

The 17-year-old continues with Elite from Ginetta Junior, where in 2023 she took 10 podiums and fifth in the standings. That front-running pace has so far continued to single-seaters, her impressive pre-season testing form not only making the BRDC Rising Star the favourite to win the F1 Academy prize money but also a leading contender for the overall title.

Harry Burgoyne Jr KMR Sport

The multiple title-winning karter had a consistent run to sixth in the GB4 standings in his rookie single-seater campaign with Graham Brunton Racing. He is the only full-time returning driver, and his hopes of emulating Tom Mills by becoming champion with KMR Sport have been boosted by strong testing form where he has been close on pace with Palmowski.

Marcus Luzio Privateer

The karting star will make his first steps into car racing in GB4 this year, combining that with another year in senior karts where he currently leads the IAME Euro Series. Having purchased a GB4 car from Evans GP, the 17-year-old will race as a privateer, which makes it difficult to predict how competitive he will be initially, especially as his first taste of the car will be during this week’s pre-event test.

The top female in GB4 this year will receive €30,000 towards an F1 Academy seat in 2025

Finn Harrison Elite Motorsport

Harrison also steps up from Ginetta Junior with Elite, who he joined mid-season in 2023. He took four podiums to come eighth in the standings, despite also skipping the final round to make his GB4 debut at Donington Park where he had a best finish of fourth. He has trailed Palmowski and Burgoyne in testing, but has been close enough to not be discounted.

Brandon McCaughan KMR Sport

The 20-year old has made use of his £20,000 GB4 shootout prize by entering the first two rounds, and hopes to raise further budget to continue in the series beyond that. He scored three wins and was fourth in the standings in his second BRSCC National FF1600 campaign in 2023. He first tested with KMR at Silverstone last week and was fifth quickest.

Callum Baxter Graham Brunton Racing

The 17-year-old Canadian has had less pre-season running than some of his rivals, but was within one second of the pace at Oulton Park. His success last year in his homeland, finishing runner-up in Ontario’s Toyo Tires F1600 series, makes him an intriguing prospect as he steps up to slicks-and-wings.

Oulton Park entry list

Team Driver Country 2023 (’24)
VRD by Arden James Hedley Great Britain 6th in GB3
Noah Ping USA 12th in GB3
Shawn Rashid USA 25th in GB3
Rodin Motorsport Louis Sharp New Zealand British F4 champion
Arthur Rogeon France 21st in GB3
Ugo Ugochukwu USA Euro 4 champion, 2nd in Italian F4, 3rd F4 UAE
JHR Developments Patrick Heuzenroeder Australia 26th in GB3, 19th in British F4
John Bennett Great Britain 10th in GB3 (23rd in FRME)
Josh Irfan Great Britain 12th in British F4, 13th in GB4
Hillspeed Aditya Kulkarni India 5th in GB4
Elite Motorsport McKenzy Cresswell Great Britain 33rd in FIA F3 Championship, 4th in GB3
Jarrod Waberski South Africa 9th in GB3
Hugo Schwarze Germany 2nd in Ginetta Junior
Hitech GP Will Macintyre Great Britain 2nd in British F4, 14th F4 UAE
Tymek Kucharczyk Poland 7th in GB3
Gerrard Xie China 20th in GB3 (7th FRegional Oceania)
Fortec Motorsports Edward Pearson Great Britain 19th in GB3
Colin Queen USA 4th in GB4
Chris Dittmann Racing Flynn Jackes Australia No racing
Rishab Jain Singapore 7th in Indian F4
Seb Murray UAE/Great Britain 30th in F4 UAE, 17th in GB4
Fox Motorsport Megan Bruce Great Britain 10th in Caterham Academy [Green]
Branden Templeton Great Britain Senior karting
Privateer Marcus Luzio Great Britain Senior karting (currently 1st in IAME Euro Series [X30 Snr])
Fortec Motorsports Linus Granfors Sweden 1st in Formula Nordic
Jack Taylor Australia 8th in Indian F4
Dan Hickey Great Britain 25th in GB4
Elite Motorsport Alisha Palmowski Great Britain 5th in Ginetta Junior
Finn Harrison Great Britain 8th in Ginetta Junior
Arden Leon Wilson Great Britain No racing
Graham Brunton Racing Mayer Deonarine Canada Senior karting
Callum Baxter Canada 2nd in Toyo Tires F1600, 1st in Canada F1600
KMR Sport Harry Burgoyne Jr Great Britain 6th in GB4
Brandon McCaughan Great Britain 4th in BRSCC National FF1600
Chloe Grant Great Britain 12th in F1 Academy