Fortec Motorsport ended another race-winning campaign in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA with a small haul of points after a character-building season finale at Brands Hatch last weekend [7-8 October].
In their first full season competing in the ‘Gen 2’ era of Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series, the Daventry-based team have widely impressed, scoring two race wins – including the series’ landmark 250th race – plus eight further podium finishes.
Brands Hatch’s full, 2.4-mile Grand Prix circuit is not famed for its overtaking opportunities, putting extra emphasis on qualifying well for the team’s pair of rising stars, Britain’s James Higgins and Mika Abrahams, from South Africa.
But the typically hard-fought 20-minute session to set the grids on Saturday morning did not fall the pair’s way. Abrahams managed an impressive sixth spot, just two tenths of a second from pole, despite contact from another car on his fastest run hampering his efforts. But a lap time three further tenths adrift put Higgins P13, in amongst the pack.
That would make progress in race trim very difficult; the outwash of air when following other cars is particularly strong around the Grand Prix loop, and that resultant handling changes can make getting a run a tricky task.
But, undeterred, and eager to end the 2023 season on a positive note, both Abrahams and Higgins steeled themselves, with a capacity trackside crowd and millions more at home cheering their exploits on via ITV4’s television coverage.
Higgins did well to lead the line for the team in the opening race, the Brit getting his elbows out and making steady progress through the midfield to round out the top ten. Abrahams was shuffled back through the order, but rallied to finish P11, the two Fortec cars taking the flag line-a-stern.
Sunday morning’s reverse grid race offered some respite after the troubles of qualifying, and Higgins took full advantage to score a weekend-best fifth, up two places from seventh on the grid. A spin for Abrahams at Hawthorn whilst pushing hard left him stuck on the grass, and out of the race.
But the 15-year-old re-grouped ahead of the season finale and rounded out his first season in single seaters with a credible eighth-place finish, Higgins behind in P13.
At the end of the 30-race season, Higgins is the highest-placed Fortec driver in the standings, with sixth. Abrahams only contested a part-campaign, but still ended up a reasonable 18th from 27 competitors.
Fortec Motorsport end the 2023 season a solid fourth from eight entrants in the Teams’ Championship, but with a renewed focus on 2024, and re-claiming the crown the Daventry-based team last won in 2020.
Donington Park will host the opening three rounds of the 2024 season on 27-28 April.
James Higgins (#18) said:
“It was a disappointing end to the year at Brands Hatch last weekend, but overall it has been a mega season with the team at Fortec Motorsport.
“I’m not sure what next year holds for me yet, but for sure, I will be aiming high.”
Mika Abrahams (#29) said:
“It was a pretty unfortunate way to end our season. We had really strong pace throughout practice, but I was taken out on my final lap in qualifying, which hindered our result and affected the whole weekend from there.
“But I have to say a massive thanks to everyone at Fortec Motorsport for this amazing year. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we have always learnt from our experiences together, and that’s the important thing.”
Oliver Dutton, Team Principal said:
“Qualifying is key in this championship, as we’ve seen many times. Neither James or Mika got the session they deserved on Saturday morning, and it’s had a knock-on effect right through the races.
“Brands GP is famously a difficult track for overtaking, so I thought they both did well to battle back from that and end the year with some points. Obviously, everyone had hoped for more, but in a championship designed for learning and development, it definitely gave them both an opportunity to deal with some adversity and make the best of a bad situation.
“Overall, it’s been another positive year in British F4. It’s our first full season in ‘Gen 2’, so to be winning races and fighting for poles and podiums on a regular basis as we have been is an encouraging step in the right direction.
“Ahead of us, we have a busy winter getting ready for 2024, and everybody’s feeling motivated to keep pushing and to get back to championship contention, as we have been in the past. Thanks to everyone on the F4 crew for their hard work and dedication this season.”