Oliver Clarke made a solid start to his 2020 BRDC British F3 Championship season at Oulton Park this past weekend (August 1/2), claiming an impressive trio of top seven finishes.
After months of anticipation and excitement, the single-seater category roared into life with four pulsating encounters being played out around the Cheshire venue in front of a bumper crowd.
Having enjoyed a competitive two days of running prior to the event, the Hillspeed driver entered qualifying on Saturday in a buoyant mood and produced a best lap of 1:31.842 to secure seventh on the grid for the opening encounter. Had it not been for traffic whilst on two faster laps, Clarke could have been even higher.
Lining up on the inside of the fourth row for the season-opener, the Torq Racewear athlete dropped to tenth after a tricky opening lap but soon began to show his fighting spirit as he battled his was back up the order.
Sizing up those ahead of him, Clarke made a move in the closing stages with a daring overtake at Cascades to cross the line in eighth. Following a post-race time penalty for a driver ahead of him, that was to become seventh for the King’s Lynn racer.
Clarke produced another top ten performance in the race two as he once again claimed a seventh place finish. Moving up a spot on the opening tour, the multiple karting champion found himself on the back of a train of cars all dicing for fourth throughout the entirety of the 13-lap race.
Despite having stronger pace than those ahead of him, the teenage sensation was unable to find a way through and ultimately settled for another solid haul of points.
Returning to the track on Sunday to round off the weekend, race three – streamed live online – saw the 17-year-old deliver another eye-catching top ten performance as he ran competitively throughout the 20-minute encounter to finish seventh.
After the race, another post-race penalty for a fellow competitor proved beneficial for Clarke as it resulted in the Fewkes Sport Management ace being promoted to sixth.
Bringing the curtain down on what proved to be a successful first event in the series, Clarke piloted his striking red and gold machine to 12th at the chequered flag after starting 13th.
Leaving Oulton Park, Clarke finds himself sitting eighth in the Drivers’ Championship.
“It has been a really solid start to the season; to come with four finishes, three of them in the top seven and plenty of improvements having been made I can’t be too unhappy.
“Coming into the weekend I felt more prepared than I ever have done before and I think that has shown. We made steady improvements in practice and managed to hook a good lap up in qualifying; had it not been for traffic I think I would have been even higher.
“To run comfortably inside the top ten in three of the four race is massively encouraging and we know where we can get better as well. I’ve got to say a huge thank you to everyone at Hillspeed and all of my sponsors – I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.
“We’ve now got a little time to look at how we performed and where we can make progress so I’m looking forward to Donington Park in a couple of weeks.”
The BRDC British F3 Championship continues on August 15/16, making the first of three visits to Donington Park this season.