Three podium finishes – plus the first-ever points for a new rookie talent – were Fortec Motorsport’s prize for a strong showing at the 2023 GB4 Championship season finale at Donington Park.
The Daventry-based team have enjoyed a silverware-laden campaign in the UK’s entry-level single-seater series this year and made the relatively short trip to the 2.4-mile Leicestershire venue once again to bring down the curtain on an action-packed, 21-race schedule.
For the season finale, series regulars Colin Queen (USA) and Aditya Kulkarni (GBR) would be joined under Fortec’s awning by a newcomer to the championship, Dan Hickey.
Although making his single-seater debut in the East Midlands, Hickey was no stranger to the team, having tested extensively alongside Queen and Kulkarni throughout the year to-date.
Queen’s experience shone through in qualifying, with the 18-year-old leading the team’s charge with third on a highly-competitive grid. Kulkarni took 11th, with Hickey 14th in tricky damp but drying conditions.
Damage whilst battling up front in the opener would force Queen to limp the car home in seventh in the opening race, the US star having battled amongst the championship’s leading lights until an off-track moment at the Roberts chicane. Kulkarni gained ground to finish just behind in eighth.
But Queen’s response was emphatic in Sunday morning’s second contest, with a surging drive to second, and a ninth podium of the campaign. He finished just 0.6 seconds adrift of the race winner, having applied the pressure throughout in search of a way past.
Kulkarni’s consistency once again paid dividends for the British teenager, with another eighth placed finish. His, and the team’s best, however, was yet to come in the finale.
In a typically action-packed reverse grid contest, both Queen and Kulkarni battled superbly through the traffic to score a double podium for the team, with second and third.
Having unfortunately retired from the first two races of the weekend, it also gave Hickey a high note to end his debut on, with four positions gained, and a credible 10th place finish.
Queen ends the season as the highest-placed Fortec driver in the championship, with fourth. Kulkarni, the team’s only other full-season entry, was just behind in fifth, and commendably secured the Rookie title, despite a relative lack of running to some of his nearest rivals.
Amongst the teams, Fortec finished a credible runner-up, with the focus already shifting to re-gaining their former status as champions once more in 2024.
Dan Hickey (#10) said:
“It was really great to finally be out on track racing against other drivers. Not only was this a great experience, but also to assess my progress and how I would fare in a race situation. I loved every second of the weekend, even though luck wasn’t on our side.
“It was the perfect opportunity to put into practice everything I’ve learnt, and showcase my race-craft and I look forward to more racing in the future.”
Aditya Kulkarni (#15) said:
“What a year – Rookie champion, and top five overall!
“It’s an amazing result to come away with. Having done no pre-season, then having to miss test days during the year due to my GCSEs, it was always going to be hard, but Fortec Motorsport have supported me brilliantly throughout.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to everybody. What a first year it’s been in cars, and I can’t wait for the next challenge.”
Colin Queen (#62) said:
“Overall, I’m satisfied to be coming away from Donington Park with another two podiums. To end the year on the podium, and also to be recognised as the fastest driver of the weekend, really demonstrates the progress we’ve made over the season, and where I’ve developed as a driver.
“We definitely had the pace to be running up front all weekend – we didn’t get the chance to show that with some damage in race one, but to be able to charge through the field in race three against the odds makes up for that, in a way. It was certainly a fun race to be a part of!
“For now, though, I’m really looking forward to heading back to the States, spending some quality time with friends and family, then preparing for the next stage in my career. A huge thanks to the Fortec Motorsport team, my sponsors and everyone who has supported me this season.”