01 Apr Fortec take third in maiden British GT outing
1st April 2013, Oulton Park – The opening round of the Avon Tyres British GT saw Fortec Motorsports take their first British GT podium. Ollie Hancock and Benji Hetherington put in a fantastic drive to take the #15 Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 over the line in third. Team-mates Jason Minshaw and James Walker suffered unfortunate luck when their #14 Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 stopped on track after a shunt on the first lap.
As the 34-strong grid, made of both GT3 and GT4 cars, stormed off the start-line, Benji Hethrington maintained his first place position that his co-driver Ollie Hancock had secured in Saturday’s qualifying. Unfortunately for team-mates Jason Minshaw and James Walker the opening lap saw the #14 Mercedes hit into the tyres at Old Hall. With Minshaw behind the wheel the 43-year-old got the car back on track but stopped trackside, just before Cascades, seeing the pairs race come to an end.
Back on track Hetherington was keeping pace and maintaining his lead over the #33 Trackspeed Porsche of Jon Minshaw/Phil Keen and the #1 Motorbase Porsche of Michael Caine/Ahmad Al Harthy. Half an hour into the race the pit window opened, Hetherington came in to hand over to Hancock who re-entered the race in second.
Hancock, pushing hard, was soon up front in first with the two Trackspeed Porsches of Phil Keen and Nick Tandy soon on his tail. A battle was quickly underway between Keen, Tandy and Hancock as each pushed to take the first win of the season. Fortec’s Hancock maintained his lead over Keen but Tandy was chasing and the gap closed to just 4 seconds. The gap quickly shortened and Tandy went second, slotting in-between Hancock and Keen. The battle continued until coming out of Lodges Keen took the lead with Tandy just behind and Hancock in third.
Another driver was soon mixing in the front of the pack as United Autosports Glynn Geddie overtook Hancock on lap 23 at Old Hall for third place. With 15-minutes left on the clock Hancock fought back and regained third place behind Tandy, who had just been demoted to second after Keen overtook up Clay Hill on the last lap. With each defending their positions they remained unchanged, seeing Ollie Hancock take a third for Fortec in their first ever British GT race.
Commenting after the race, Hancock said:
“That was a seriously tricky race, the Mercedes is the widest car I’ve ever driven! It took me a few laps to understand how it was handling since we made some changes over night from qualifying, and then I was under pressure by Keen and Tandy which didn’t help. I struggled getting out of the corners which is where they both got me but in the end I found pace and held Caine off in another Porsche for third but he never really got close enough to attack me. Fortec are a seriously professional race team and I owe all this to them for all the hard work and prep since they had the car…3 weeks ago!”