06 May Top 5 finish at Rockingham
6th May 2013, Rockingham – The second round of the Avon Tyres British GT saw mixed fortunes for the Fortec Motorsports team and their pair of Mercedes AMG SLS GT3’s. Jason Minshaw and Benji Hetherington proved to be a strong pairing as they stormed through the grid to take fourth in their first British GT race together. The second car of Oli Webb and Danny Candia had been running in first, just before Webb came in to handover to Candia. However soon after the pair were forced to retire when the #24 United Autosports McLaren made contact with Candia, damaging the Mercedes steering.
Minshaw was first up in the #14 Mercedes, with single-seat hotshot Webb behind the wheel of the #15 as the second round of the British GT got underway. The two-hour race got off to a great start as the thirty-two strong field powered off the start-line, with Webb having a near perfect start from thirteenth to sit in eighth by the end of the first lap. Starting from sixteenth on the grid Minshaw had also had a strong start and, after narrowly avoiding collision with the Oman Air Motorbase Porsche 997, was hunting down the pack ahead and heading for the top ten when a safety car was called out due to a car spinning off up front.
With six minutes lost, the safety car was called in and racing resumed. As Minshaw continued to push in the #14, Webb had stormed from eighth into fourth and with clean air was catching the front-runners. As the pit window opened for the mandatory pit-stop Webb took the lead on the last corner, putting in an extra lap before coming in to hand the car over to co-driver Candia. Shortly after Minshaw also went into the pits and handed over to partner Hetherington.
With the second half of the race underway, Hetherington had broken into the top ten and was sat in seventh when a battle broke out between the young racer and Michael Caine in the Oman Air Motorbase Porsche. As the pair fought it out Caine passed to take seventh, however Hetherington wasted no time hunting him down and was right on his tail. Candia had re-entered the race in second and maintained his position whilst chasing race leader Richard Westbrook (Trackspeed).
Hetherington continued to push on, but for Candia it soon became clear he was having trouble in the second Fortec run Mercedes as he slipped down into tenth from second. A coming together with the United Autosports McLaren of Jody Firth and Mark Blundell saw Candia limp to the pits where damage to the front left tracking on the steering was found, unfortunately resulting in Webb and Candia retiring from the race. For Hetherington the race continued and the 21-year-old had fought his way through to sit in fourth where he stayed up until the chequered flag, taking vital points towards his and team-mate Minshaw’s British GT title campaign.
Commenting on his first GT outing Webb said: “It was a great race for the first half, we started thirteenth after a tyre issue in quail stopped us from setting the time we should have – so to be in eighth by the end of the first lap was really good. After I had battled to get to fourth I just concentrated on staying out of trouble but continued to push hard for the next hour and got into first just before I went into the pits. It was a great experience in my first ever GT race to be leading on merit and then to hand over the car in that position. It was unfortunate that my team-mate was hit but nonetheless it was still a great race.”