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Louis Sharp retakes GB3 Championship lead with stellar show in Hungary

Louis Sharp, one of the motor sport’s most promising young talents, has reclaimed the lead of the GB3 Championship after a sensational race victory at the Hungaroring, scene of next month’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

The 17-year-old rising star arrived in Hungary eager to regain the top place in the prestigious junior series that had been lost as a result of another driver’s indiscretion three weeks ago at Spa-Franchorchamps.

Last year’s British F4 Champion had impressed mightily on debut at the legendary Belgian circuit with two podiums but had fallen to third place in the standings after being taken out of the third encounter and thus failing to score any points.

Keen to re-establish himself at the top of the points table and sporting an eye-catching new helmet design, the young New Zealander bounced back in imposing style by dominating Free Practice on both Thursday and Friday. Having laid down a marker by topping the time sheets in three of the warm-up sessions and clocking the second fastest time in the fourth, Sharp seemed perfectly primed for Saturday morning’s qualifying and the weekend’s trio of races.

Qualifying, though, did not go as planned. The Rodin Motorsport driver was unhappy with the handling of his car and found himself back in a lowly ninth spot, well below expectations and behind his major title rivals, with a mountain to climb.

Come the opening showdown, Louis lined up in eighth after a higher qualifier served a grid place penalty and quickly made a place on the opening lap. He briefly challenged for sixth but, on a track where overtaking is nigh impossible after the first few corners, could make no further progress and had to settle for a safe seventh place finish.

With the grid for Sunday morning’s race two set by a driver’s second fastest lap time in qualifying, though still below Louis’ front row aspirations post his dominant performances in Free Practice, Sharp would line up in a slightly better fifth place – and from there he made a sensational getaway.

Displaying exceptional race-craft, the highly talented teenager scythed his way past all four of those ahead with daring moves on a stunning opening lap to storm into the race lead. Once in front, the young Kiwi never looked back, smashing the GB3 lap record several times to score a superb victory and move back up to second position in the championship.

“I wasn’t where I wanted to be on the grid and I needed to make positions but was thinking it would be pretty good to get one or two on the first lap… but I ended up passing all four of them!” grinned the delighted victor. “I got a fantastic getaway – passed two of them around turn one, then the third around the outside of turn two before slipping by the leader on way into the chicane.

“I’ve got to give the team a big ‘thank you’. We struggled with the set-up in qualifying but they turned it around and we are back where we should be at the front. Since Oulton Park things haven’t gone completely to plan. I’ve always been fast but we haven’t had the best of luck, so it’s great to get another win and be back into title contention.”

With the top 12 positions from the first race reversed for the grid of the third and final showdown, Sharp lined up fourth targeting a second victory. However, with temperatures soaring and Louis starting on a well-used set of tyres, progress was always going to be battle. In the end Louis settled for a strong fourth and, with his two closest championship rivals behind him, scored enough points to retake his position at the top of the standings as the season nears its mid-way point.

“Running on our worst tyres, that was one of the toughest races I’ve ever done – I was relieved to hold onto fourth,” admitted the New Zealander. “As a whole though, after qualifying where we did, we maximised all three results and I’m very happy to be back at the top of the points table and now relishing the coming races.”

Next up the GB3 Championship continues its tour of European Grand Prix venues with a visit to Zandvoort in Holland before a return to the UK for concluding rounds at Silverstone, Donington Park and Brands Hatch.

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