Fortec Motorsport scored an eighth podium of the season on an otherwise-difficult weekend [12-13 August] in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA at Knockhill.
The annual trip north of the border for Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series came with renewed optimism for the Daventry-based team, despite front-running pace going largely unrewarded at Croft last time out.
The team’s pair of rising stars – South African talent Mika Abrahams and Britain’s James Higgins – were among the leading names in practice around the 1-mile Fife venue, even more impressive given the relative lack of testing both had, compared to the opposition.
That would put them at a disadvantage in a wet qualifying, however, and the pair struggled to 12th and 16th respectively in a typically hard-fought session.
Abrahams did well to fight back through the order to score points during the opening contest, bringing home ninth spot despite a slow getaway that relegated the teen to the back of the field.
He would have been joined inside the top ten by an equally-resurgent Higgins, but an over-ambitious move from another driver running slick tyres on a damp circuit resulted in contact, ending Higgins’ race prematurely.
The upside of a tricky qualifying is always the reverse grid race on Sunday morning, and Higgins took full advantage of the situation, battling his way to second place, and an eighth podium of the season for the team.
Starting on the second row, Higgins was able to get the jump and move up into second, before soaking up race-long pressure from James Piszcyk behind; the pair eventually took the chequered flag just 0.5 seconds apart.
This time, it would be Abrahams who lost out in an incident and fell back into the pack, but the 15-year-old was able to bring the car home in P12.
Sunday’s ITV4-televised finale brought with it dry conditions. Abrahams started and finished in 12th, but Higgins put on one final display of overtaking prowess, gaining five spots to end the triple header one place higher, in 11th.
Higgins departs the Fife venue as the highest-placed in the Drivers’ standings, in seventh overall. In the Teams Cup, Fortec remain third, narrowly ahead of closest challengers JHR.
ROKiT British F4 heads next to Donington Park’s Grand Prix layout for the very first time on 26-27 August, the first of two events to conclude the 2023 season.
James Higgins (#18) said:
“It’s been a tough weekend for us at Knockhill.
“We salvaged what we could from it, with another podium, but a tough qualifying put us on the back foot for the whole weekend.
“I’ve absolutely no doubt we’ll come back stronger as a team for the experience at Donington GP.”
Mika Abrahams (#29) said:
“It’s been a decent weekend, considering we were the only team that hasn’t tested here this season.
“I struggled in qualifying with the wet conditions, and spent that entire session effectively learning, as I’ve never experienced Knockhill in those conditions.
“Qualifying P12 did put us on the back foot for the weekend. I had a good first race, finishing in the points, especially after being last after the opening lap.
“Race 2 was hampered by an incident, and then a decent enough Race 3 to end the weekend. I’m now looking forward to Donington.”
Oliver Dutton, Team Principal said:
“It’s always difficult, coming to a circuit as challenging as Knockhill with less testing time than the competition, but I thought the guys did exceptionally well to salvage something from the weekend.
“In all our years of racing up here, it’s the most unpredictable the weather has been, and that was definitely a factor in everything. Had it stayed dry, and been more representative to the running the guys had in practice, I think we’d have been higher up.
“As it was, they both put their overtaking boots on and managed to take some points – and a podium, in James’ case – away from the weekend.
“It’s something to show for everybody’s efforts, and we’ll re-group and go again now at Donington in a couple of weeks’ time.”