27 Jun Alfonso Celis Jr. enjoys double podium in Aragón
27th June 2017: The British team packed their sun cream and headed to the 5.344km Spanish track of Motorland Aragón. With temperatures rumoured to soar to 40 degrees, and historically this being a cooler first round of the World Series Formula v8 3.5 Championship, it was sure to produce an exciting weekend.
Mexican Alfonso Celis Jr. started the weekend positively setting the 3rd quickest time on Friday morning’s test. The Fonz was 0.17 seconds off the fastest time of 1:42.808, which was set by the Russian Egor Orudzhev. Diego Menchaca was also quick to impress crossing the line in P6 with a time of 1:43.287, seven tenths’ quicker than the following rookie.
Sweltering Saturday sunshine shone on the Spanish circuit for Q1, but this time it was the Mexican Menchaca that lead the way in P3 for #TeamFortec. Completing the second row of the grid with just 0.116 between the two, was teammate Celis Jr.
As the lights went out Alfonso Celis Jr. reacted quickly and promoted himself to P2 approaching the first corner, but slightly locked up and ran wide, re-entering the track in P3 ahead of Lotus driver Rene Binder. Suffering from clutch issues Menchaca sadly had a slower getaway, resulting in the Fortec driver being engulfed by the pack. A spin by Fortec graduate Pietro Fittipaldi a few corners later brought out the Safety car and the group bunched together.
As Orudzhev dropped the throttle Celis Jr was quick to respond to the restart and put some air between himself and the following battling pack. Menchaca was up to P8 and looking to hunt down Kanamaru ahead of him. As the race continued it was apparent that high downforce was the right option as SMP driver Matevos Isaakyan was picking his way through the order before overtaking Celis Jr. This didn’t stop the Mexican attacking back while driving intelligent defensive race lines to keep at bay the Lotus of Rene Binder. Menchaca was looking to promote himself but was unable to make an overtaking move stick losing himself another position. With 3 minutes remaining Isaakyan took 2nd position from Roy Nissany, as Celis Jr. hunted down the Israeli driver looking for a podium finish. A nail biting last lap developed as Celis Jr. was all over the gearbox of Nissany, and was able to make a fantastic move on the final hairpin to take the third step on the podium with Mencheca crossing the line in P9 respectively.
Race 2 was set to be a thriller once again in the Spanish sunshine. The chequered flag dropped on Q2 with Celis Jr. putting his V8 engine on the second row in P4 with a time of 1:41.301. Menchaca followed in P7 just 0.237 behind his teammate.
Lights out and Celis Jr. made another quick getaway launching himself to P3 while Menchaca followed in P8! After pitting, Tereshchenko lost control at turn 5, the Teo Martin driver was forced to retire promoting the Fonz up to P2. Menchaca dropped to P9 momentarily before coming back at Nissany on turn 16 and immediately overtaking Mason for P7 in search of another Rookie win. Celis Jr. pushed hard and set purple sectors as the team prepared for his mandatory pit stop. A great team effort had the back tyres swiftly replaced on car 7 and Alfonso left the pits without losing positions. An unfortunate threaded nut meant Menchaca had to sit in the box for a few agonizing seconds longer than his Mexican teammate re-entering the race in P8. This frustration set a fire in the stomach of the Euroformula F3 graduate as he chased down the driver ahead. As Celis Jr. was setting fastest lap after fastest lap in the closing stages of the race, Diego Menchaca was enjoying the balance of his Fortec car as he caught and overtook Fioravanti crossing the line in P7 as fastest rookie. Celis Jr. took a step higher than the previous day to the 2nd spot on the podium. Champagne was sprayed between teammates as we look forward to the next round at Nurburgring on the 15th – 16th July.
Diego Menchaca (#8 Fortec Motorsports)
“I’m happy to be still the best rookie, unfortunately we had a problem in the pit-stop, otherwise also the overall position would have been better, since I was fighting with Isaakyan for 4th place”.
Alfonso Celis Jr (#7 Fortec Motorsports)
“After yesterday the aim was to be on the podium, I left my heart and soul on the track. The car was really good as well the pit-stop, now I’m looking forward to the next races. I want more”.
2017 World Series Formula v8 3.5 Championship for #TeamFortec
P3 – Alfonso Celis Jr. – 128 points
P8 – Diego Menchaca – 48 points
Notes to editors:
About Fortec Motorsports
Fortec Motorsports Ltd is owned by ex-racing driver and businessman Richard Dutton. Having put his own racing career behind him, Richard began working for Fortec in 1993 and eventually bought the outfit two years later. The team began racing in Formula 3000 and Formula Opel and has grown over the years to become the biggest single seater race team in the UK. The Daventry based UK squad now provides complete single-seater transition from go-karting to Formula One. Drivers are encouraged to rise up through the ranks with Fortec and 2012 saw the team run twenty-three drivers across six racing formulas from Formula 1 feeder series Formula Renault 3.5 to one of the first rungs of the racing ladder BARC Formula Renault. Fortec finished in the top three of all six formulas they competed in and took the championship titles in the Formula Renault 3.5, Formula Renault NEC and Intersteps. The Fortec Motorsports team won the 2015 World Series by Renault, Formula Renault 3.5 Championship with British driver Oliver Rowland.
For more information on Formula V8 3.5 series, full calendar and results visit http://www.formulav8.com/