17 Jul Mixed Fortunes for Fortec Motorsports at Nurburgring
Monday 17th July – High off the success of Motorland, Fortec Motorsports ascended on the renowned track of Nurburgring, Germany for the 6th round of the World Series V8 3.5 Championship.
Friday morning started positively for the British team with Mexican Diego Menchaca setting the fastest time in the first Collective Test with a 1:43:296, three tenths quicker than his teammate Alfonso Celis Jr in P5. The second test of the day saw the Mexican teammates switch positions with Alfonso looking impressive in P4 with Diego right behind in P5 respectively.
As rain clouds started to linger ahead, #TeamFortec arrived on track for Q1. With rain drops starting to descend as the lights turn green, it was sure to deliver a thrilling qualifying. Dealing with tricky conditions on slicks, the boys pushed hard to set a time before any more rain fell, resulting in Celis Jr. in P4 with Menchaca P8 before entering the pits. As the fresh tyres were mounted with 15 minutes remaining, the rain began to pour causing a premature and slightly disappointing end to qualifying.
After a good night sleep, the Mexican duo returned to the 5.148km track determined to improve on the previous day’s qualification. With the weather holding up, Menchaca put his V8 engine on the front row in P2, his best qualifying of the season with a time of 1:41:185. Celis Jr. wasn’t able to match his teammates pace having to settle for P7, similarly his Championship rivals also struggled to come to terms with the circuit deep in the Eifel mountains.
As the lights went out on race 1 it was Alfonso Celis Jr. who took advantage with an inspirational bit of driving. Moving to the outside to cover an attacking Roy Nissany, Alfonso was forced wide onto the grass. Keeping it pinned Alfonso managed to draw alongside Fittipaldi in the Lotus and dive to the inside at turn 1, advancing 2 positions to P2. Menchaca made a decent start and maintained his position in 8th. Contact at turn 3 between Fittipaldi and new comer Alex Palou, forced the Teo Martin to pit for a nose change. Celis managed to pull a gap on an attacking Egor Orudzhev, and sustained the gap as the race evolved. Notably known for near impossible overtaking opportunities, the race continued with no changes in positions. As the chequered flag fell, Alfonso crossed the line placing him on the second step of the podium. Joining his teammate to taste the champagne was Diego Menchaca crossing the line in P8 as fastest rookie.
Starting behind the safety car, Race 2 was unfortunately a different story in tricky conditions. As the safety cars lights went out the group bunched together leading into the final corner. Palou’s restart didn’t catch Menchaca out as he was able to tuck underneath the gearbox of the Teo Martin down the main straight. A courageous last minute lunge on Fittipaldi into turn 1 saw Celis progress up to P6, only to spin 3 corners later, forcing him to the back of the field. As the dry line was appearing the Fortec squad decided to gamble by bringing Celis into the pits for slicks. Menchaca was demoted to P3 by Isaakyan and after the fastest pit stop, a whole second quicker than any other team, Menchaca re-entered the race in P5. A few laps later Diego was forced wide onto the wet part of the track by an attacking Fittipaldi causing the Telmex backed driver to spin dropping to P8. On the final lap Menchaca put 2 wheels off the dry line and lost control of his No. 8 car resulting in sliding off the track at turn 2, while Celis Jr. crossed the line in P8. A race to forget for both drivers and team as we look forward to maximising our opportunities at the next round in Mexico.
“It’s a weekend in which the results don’t show the potential. It was a new track for me and we dominated in FP1, we qualified 2nd in Q2, so speed was clearly there. Unfortunately, we didn’t turn it into a solid result, today I thought we were on a clear run to a podium as we were quick at the beginning of the race on wet tyres, but I didn’t have a good performance on slicks on a drying track, in the end a couple of mistakes ended my race. We will show up stronger for my home race, speed is there, motivation is there, the car performs brilliantly and the team is spot on. We just need to put it together; a bit of luck wouldn’t hurt for that”
Alfonso Celis Jr.
After race 1:
“It’s nice to be back on the podium, I managed to keep the best line in the first corner and I was already up to second. I tried to push during the second part of the race but Matevos opened a big gap I just couldn’t close”.
2017 World Series V8 3.5 Championship Standings
P4 / Alfonso Celis Jr. – 150 points
P9 / Diego Menchaca – 53 points