Fortec Motorsport began the 2023 ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA season with silverware in the reverse-grid race, amidst an otherwise mixed trip to Donington Park.
The Daventry-based team made the relatively short trip to the 1.96-mile East Midlands venue armed with two of the UK’s brightest rising stars in James Higgins and Aiden Neate and buoyed by a positive winter testing programme.
That translated to sixth and seventh respectively in a hotly-contested qualifying session, Higgins leading Alpine Academy ace Neate. Both were a mere 0.3 seconds adrift of pole position, with pace left on the table.
Both drivers struggled at the start of the opening race and lost ground but kept their composure amidst a red flag stoppage and rallied after the restart to bring the cars home in eighth and 11th respectively.
Sunday morning greeted the field with wet and slippery conditions, but both drivers shone in the reverse grid contest, delivering a true statement of the team’s performance. Starting back on the eighth row, Neate and Higgins kept their heads in a chaotic 20-minute contest to storm through the field.
Neate made it as far as second but having lost some time whilst picking his way through the pack, the race win was one step too far for the 16-year-old. Higgins, meanwhile, shadowed his team-mate’s every move, and rounded out the top six at the chequered flag.
The ITV4-televised finale would follow a similar theme to the opening race, with Higgins and Neate eighth and 11th once more.
The team leaves a topsy-turvy season opener with Neate and Higgins fifth and sixth in the overall standings. In the Teams’ stakes, Fortec are third, with the next three rounds to be held at Brands Hatch’s 1.2-mile Indy circuit on 6-7 May.
James Higgins (#18) said:
“On the whole, it was a really solid first weekend of the ROKiT British F4 season. We scored points in all three races, that plus our pace is a very good baseline to work from.
“A massive thank you to everybody at Fortec Motorsport for their hard work over the weekend. The car ran faultlessly all week, and I know together we can continue to build and have a very strong season ahead.”
Aiden Neate (#57) said:
“Put simply, there were too many mistakes from my side this weekend. We had really strong pace in all conditions, but unfortunately, we couldn’t maximise everything.
“It was good at least to salvage a podium from the reverse grid race, and it was nice to make some moves, bring back some good points and get a podium for the team – my first in Alpine colours!
“Thanks to everybody for their support this weekend. There are 27 more races to go, so we have plenty of time to make it right.”
Oliver Dutton, Team Principal said:
“It was definitely a weekend of mixed emotions. The performance in race two is the real indicator of where we’re at as a team, with the drivers and the car, and to be able to pass virtually the entire field on our way to silverware is where we should be at.
“We struggled at the start in the other two races and ultimately, that left us with an uphill battle to salvage some points. We can always be better and keep improving. I’d be more concerned if we were off the pace – but clearly, that isn’t the case. It will all come together.
“A huge thanks to the entire team for all their hard work and commitment over the weekend, and we look forward to Brands Hatch in a fortnight.”