Fortec Motorsport converted pole position into a brace of podium finishes on a points-heavy trip to Donington Park in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA last weekend [26-27 August].
The Daventry-based team made a first-ever visit to the full Grand Prix layout at the 2.4-mile East Midlands venue in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series, with Britain’s James Higgins and South African talent Mika Abrahams keen to impress.
The two wasted little time in asserting themselves over an ultra-competitive field, with Abrahams setting the quickest time during Thursday’s pre-event testing.
The 15-year-old then translated that into qualifying in stunning fashion, scoring a maiden Omologato Pole Position, with Higgins a strong fifth to set the team up for a high-scoring weekend in Leicestershire.
A rain shower before the opening race ultimately stacked the cards against pole-sitter Abrahams. With a dry line emerging prior to the start, Mika was to start on the still-wet part of the grid and lost the lead to Louis Sharp on the run down to Redgate.
He rallied well, and kept the championship leader honest to the flag, but a safety car intervention wiped out most of his opportunities to pass, and he had to settle for a maiden podium in second spot.
Higgins similarly improved from sixth on the grid to fifth to round out a promising start to the weekend’s action, and then enjoyed a trip to the rostrum himself in the second contest.
As a re-arranged race from Snetterton earlier in the year, Abrahams was unable to participate under the regulations. That left Higgins as the sole Fortec challenger in the race, but the Brit more than made up for it.
Staying within track limits proved to be the key. Higgins spent most of the race at the back of a six-car train for the lead but, by staying within the circuit confines as his rivals continually overstepped the mark in a bid to stay ahead, he ultimately moved up four spots to second at the flag, with his rivals met by a host of time penalties.
That left the team celebrating a ninth and tenth podium finishes of the campaign on Saturday evening, with the promise of more to come on Sunday in front of a capacity crowd, and millions more on ITV4.
Sunday would prove to be a tougher affair but started on a positive as Higgins and Abrahams banked valuable ‘overtaking points’ in the reverse grid race, fighting their way from the back of the field to 11th and 17th respectively.
Higgins would register a solid fifth-placed finish in the finale, but a 10-second time penalty for a start infringement hampered Abrahams’ shot at repeating his podium heroics from pole and, after a safety car bunched the pack up mid-race, he ended up 19th.
The series now looks to Brands Hatch’s iconic Grand Prix circuit for the 2023 season finale on 6-8 October.
James Higgins (#18) said:
“It’s been a really solid weekend for me, with a great haul of points and an opportunity to really show the performance we have.
“It’s a bit of a wait now until we go to Brands GP for the finale, but I’ll be working hard with the team to make sure we’re ready.”
Mika Abrahams (#29) said:
“It was an amazing weekend for me at Donington.
“I’m really happy to be walking away with a trophy for my first overall podium in British F4, as well as a double pole position and a fastest lap.
“We finally showed our true pace and put it all together. I’m really proud of the whole team, and thankful to them for helping me achieve such great results.
“Full focus now on the final round at Brands GP in over a month’s time.”
Oliver Dutton, Team Principal said:
“This weekend was definitely a big step in the right direction for us as a team.
“Mika’s double pole is going down as one of the highlights of our season; he’s developed incredibly well as a driver in such a short space of time, and that – plus his first podium – was no more than he deserved.
“James also got us some silverware and banked a very good haul of points. We’ve gone home with plenty to smile about, which is always a great feeling.
“One round to go, and we’re already hard at work making sure we build on this at Brands Hatch and head into the winter as a team on the front foot.”