Fortec Motorsport scored a landmark win in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA at Oulton Park last weekend [17-18 June], with James Higgins victorious in the series’ 250th race.
The team made the trip north to the 2.2-mile Cheshire venue keen to straighten out a bumpy run of form in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series of late, on a circuit where the Daventry outfit has previously scored a ‘Triple Crown’ – all three wins in one weekend.
Their pace was validated once again in qualifying, with Higgins storming to an emphatic double position. Team-mates Aiden Neate and Mika Abrahams also put in a strong showing to secure P4 and P12 starting berths respectively.
It didn’t quite go to plan for Higgins in the opening race. After losing pole to fellow front row starter Kenato Le on the run to Old Hall at the start, the Brit came unstuck after a red flag and subsequent restart, stalling, and falling to the back.
But after making the best of the reverse grid race to take P16 on a circuit where overtaking opportunities are notoriously at a premium, Higgins enjoyed a starring role in the ITV4 televised finale.
Le would again get the better start and pass Higgins for the lead, but this time, it wouldn’t stick. A sudden rear-left puncture left the Hitech flailing and offered Higgins a golden opportunity to hit the front once more.
From there, he defended valiantly against Daniel Guinchard to bring home his second victory of the season, and give his championship hopes a much-needed boost.
Higgins’ success was backed up by another strong showing from South African talent Abrahams, the 15-year-old improving from P12 to score the team’s only points in ninth spot.
After repeating the feat in the reverse grid race, Abrahams then made it a hat-trick of top-ten finishes in P10 during Sunday’s finale.
It would be a weekend to forget with Neate. After retiring from the opening race, he was then sidelined by contact in Race 2, the damage from which was so extensive, it forced him to park up for the rest of the event and – quite possibly – the season.
It’s a quick turn-around for the team, with the series heading to Silverstone’s full Grand Prix layout for the very first time next week [24-25 June].
James Higgins (#18) said:
“What a way to round off such a positive weekend! It’s really cool to win the 250th race as well, on a big weekend for the championship.
“From the disappointment of yesterday to being back on the top step of the podium today, it’s safe to say we’ve been through all the emotions.
“A huge thanks to the whole team at Fortec Motorsport, and we move on to Silverstone next week looking for more of the same.”
Mika Abrahams (#29) said:
“It was a good weekend for me, overall.
“I got unlucky with traffic in qualifying, which hampered my best laps, and that limited what we could achieve from the weekend.
“Once again, we showed that we have the pace to be competitive and the potential is there. I’m happy to score points in all three races, and to be performing consistently.
“I’m looking forward to even better results at Silverstone.”
Aiden Neate (#57) said:
“Put simply, a weekend to forget. We were in the mix after qualifying but then two incidents in two races, the second of which left my car too damaged to be repaired in time for race three.
“It leaves a cloud of uncertainty over what happens now for the rest of the season, which is a real shame.
“Regardless of what happens, I just want to say a massive thank you to the team for their continued support so far.”
Oliver Dutton, Team Principal said:
“I’m so proud of James. To win any race in British F4 is no mean feat, but to do it on such a big weekend for the championship is a tremendous achievement.
“Hopefully, this can be the springboard now for him to kick on and string a run of results together. We’ve seen the entire field struggle to do exactly that so far this year, so it could pay dividends with half the season still to run.
“Mika’s really turning into one to watch. To score three top-ten finishes on only his second weekend in the championship is, frankly, a lot better than most drivers manage full stop. He’s well ahead of the curve, in terms of his development, so we’re excited to see where that goes next.
“What to say about Aiden? It’s a cruel sport, sometimes. Unfortunately, those incidents not only ended his weekend early, but quite possibly the season, too. We’ll have to wait and see. Either way, he’s a bright kid with a good future in the sport ahead of him.”