Will Bratt produced an impressive performance at Catalunya in the latest round of the FIAT Spanish F3 Championship in what was his first race outing at the circuit near Barcelona.
Starting qualifying with no experience of the track, aside from four laps during the second of Friday's test sessions, the 20-year-old managed to qualify his EmiliodeVillota.com Motorsport-run car in ninth on the grid and then went on to finish an fifth in the race in tricky wet conditions.
At the start of the 16-lap encounter, Bratt made a good getaway and gained two places on the opening lap to move into seventh position before climbing into the top six on lap two.
Remaining in sixth until lap seven, he then lost a position to Italian driver Stefano Bizzarri but almost immediately hit back to return into the top six at the expense of Marcos Martinez Ucha, the latter also having been passed by Bizzarri.
Over the next seven laps, Bratt was happy to maintain sixth place – and a potential pole position start for Sunday's race under the reverse grid format employed by the FIAT Spanish F3 Championship – but as he came under more pressure from Bruno Mendez, the British star pushed and passed Bizzarri for fifth on the penultimate lap.
“I've never been so happy with a fifth place before!” he said. “Qualifying inside the top ten was great considering I hadn't been able to learn the circuit on Friday. To then come through into fifth in the race was a terrific result for us and we're very happy to have been so competitive with such limited running.
“When I was up into sixth place I thought about staying there to get pole position on the reversed grid for Sunday's race but Mendez started putting me under pressure so I pushed to get past Bizzarri for fifth. Starting second on the grid for Sunday's race is obviously good though, I'm really looking forward to it.
“We know the final race of the year will be tough and while we're going in with no expectations, it would be incredible if we're able to fight for our first Formula 3 win.”