Fortec Motorsports showed its pace and potential as James Wharton made forward strides in the GB3 Championship at the weekend (April 27/28) but was unlucky for that not to show in its final results.

The team’s line-up expanded for the visit to Silverstone as Australian James raced alongside Edward Pearson and Colin Queen, while the trio were joined by FIA Formula 3 Championship race winner Arvid Lindblad during pre-event testing.

It was a tough baptism of fire for James in particular, travelling to the circuit for the first time on Friday and fresh from testing in Germany in Formula Regional European Championship machinery. After getting dry running in practice, he had a damp track to contend with for qualifying on Saturday as he turned his first laps in GB3 machinery.

Both Ed and Colin showed strong pace in that session, but both drivers ended up exceeding track limits on some of their faster laps, finding those times deleted and leaving them further down the grid than they’d hoped.

For the opening race, Ed showed good early promise, gaining six positions, but struggled with his tyres later on, falling back down the order. Colin also dropped a few spots having made some mistakes on track, and James carried on building up his knowledge of the car and circuit.

With bad weather causing delays to the schedule during Sunday morning, the decision was made to run just one race later in the afternoon when conditions improved – the third contest being slotted into the calendar later in the season.

Colin started the race well and gained some early positions but contact at Luffield caused some damage to the car and, with the loss of some performance, was unable to make up further ground. Unfortunately, it was another tough one for Ed, however James felt more at home behind the wheel, moving forward five positions to finish just outside of the top 10.

After his excellent step forward on Sunday, James will re-join the team in the summer, when the GB3 Championship returns to Silverstone, while Colin and Ed will be back on track on a months’ time, as the series heads to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

Colin Queen #62

Race 1: Start – 11, Result – 13
Race 2: Start – 18, Result – 16

Championship: 13 (33 points)

“Qualifying could have been a lot better. We have really, really good pace in the rain, it just didn’t go as we’d hoped. It was good to get P11 for race one, but we got a lap deleted for the second best, which would have put P9 or P10. Race one I just went back a bit. I made some mistakes that I shouldn’t have made, but it’s all learning. We know we have the pace to be in that top five, but I’ve just got to bring it together. That’s what makes or breaks it.

“Sunday was a race that you could say ‘what could have been.’ Off the line I made a good amount of positions and then was passing a driver round outside into Luffield, and they really just drove into the side of me and I dropped back. It’s one of those things that are outside of your control. You can’t do anything and all you have to do is just focus on driving your race. We opted for a good setup that was paying dividends until that moment. I think I would have held my place and been at the same pace but had a bit of damage and just stayed where I was. “

Ed Pearson #41

Race 1: Start – 18, Result – 17
Race 2: Start – 17, Result – 17

Championship: 17 (23 points)

“I messed up qualifying, and I’ll put my hands up to that. I could have gone a lot more out of the car, I made a couple of mistakes, which meant that I had track limits, so that time probably would have put me about 10th or ninth, which is about where we should be on pure one lap pace, and I didn’t put it there, so that’s my fault and I put my hands up to it.

“Race one, we had really good pace off the start, and I got up to P12, but we struggled with a lot of understeer and the graining on the tyres was quite bad at the end of the race. Sunday’s race was much of the same. It’s a learning curve at the end of the day, and me and the team will make sure we’re better when we come to Spa.”

James Wharton #42

Race 1: Start – 15, Result – 20
Race 2: Start – 16, Result – 11

“Saturday was quite difficult, not having enough testing. Let’s say I got put in the deep end this as on Thursday I was testing in Hockenheim! I came to learn the track this week and I’ll be at the second round at Silverstone in July, so hopefully I’m a bit more prepared and have a little bit more of an idea for that one. The team has been really good, working hard to just get me on the pace as quickly as possible, but obviously it’s quite difficult when the track is changing so much.

“I was a lot better in race two and showed bit more of what I can do. I got off the line a bit quicker than everyone else and I think the [tyre] pressures were much better, which put us in a better spot. It was a positive way to end the weekend.”