02 Apr Top ten finish for Fortec
The second and final race of the Easter weekend Avon tyres British GT saw mixed fortunes for the Fortec AMG Mercedes SLS’s, with a seventh place for the #14 of James Walker and Jason Minshaw, and a 24th place for the #15 of Ollie Hancock and Benji Hetherington after having to retire due to gearbox trouble. Post race the #14 was gifted sixth place after a 10-second time penalty was given to J Palmer.
After an eventful qualifying for race 2 of the British GT Hancock and Hetherington, who qualified on pole for race 1, started in eighteenth whilst Minshaw and Walker lined up third on the grid. For Walker his start did not go to plan when after the first lap the ex-F3 driver had slipped down into fourteenth. Meanwhile just behind, Hancock maintained his eighteenth position off the start.
The order remained unchanged for the next few laps as the #14 and #15 cars sat in fifteenth and eighteenth respectively. However by the end of the tenth lap, as the pit window opened, Walker moved into fourteenth, sitting just in front of the United Autosports McLaren with Hancock also moving up a position into seventeenth.
Both cars were soon to pit with Walker handing over to Minshaw and Hancock to Hetherington. With 90-seconds until the pit window closed the top four race leaders all pitted seeing Minshaw promoted to eleventh and Hetherington back into the race in seventeenth. Both cars were then again moved up the grid as the #32 Trackspeed Porsche lost a minute as their car failed to fire, leaving Minshaw opportunity to storm into eleventh and Hetherington sixteenth.
Minshaw was soon on the charge in an attempt to get into the top 10 and take the pair’s first points in the championship. By lap 25 Minshaw had done just this and was in tenth place, slotting in between both 888 Optimum BMW Z4’s. The next lap saw a stop/go penalty handed to FF Corse in eighth for an un-safe release in the pit-stop and Minshaw seize the opportunity to move into seventh.
Behind, Hetherington had dropped down the order. With just 15-minutes left on the clock the 21-year-old racer took the car to the pits where it retired due to gearbox trouble.
Drama was then to ensue with a fire at the exit of Lodge. A safety car was called out whilst marshals attempted to put out the Ginetta G55 of Colin White which was ablaze. The marshals did a sterling job and with 1m 55s remaining on the clock the safety car was bought in and the race continued. With little time to overtake Minshaw drove the Fortec #14 Mercedes home to take the chequered flag in seventh. Post race the J Palmer was handed a ten-second penalty for an infringement relating to his re-joining the race at Knickerbook on the last lap, dropping Palmer to fifteenth and gifting Minshaw and Walker sixth.
Commenting on getting his first points of the season James Walker said: “First of all, I think Fortec have done very very well considering they’ve only had the car a few weeks. I managed a good stint in the second race and caught the group ahead of me, then I handed it over to Jason and he did really well. I’m genuinely very happy for him as he got stuck in and kept calm and caught the people ahead of him. I’d definitely like to stick with the team and do Blancpain or British GT if the right deal can be put together.”
Jason Minshaw commented: “It’s been great fun. The second race was great as I actually got to race, I can do that! I was reeling the guys in steadily; it was just over too quickly for me. There was some crazy driving, I never go out to crash so I really had to take some serious avoiding action. The Fortec guys have been brilliant, to do what they did and turn the car around, get it out there, and be competitive, that is extraordinary. I’d really like to come back and race again, maybe even start a race too!”
Ollie Hancock said: “I struggled bringing the front tyres to temperature but once I’d done it, it was a pretty uneventful race. I was into a clear gap, I had to be consistent, stay at a pace and do my job – Benji climbed it and did a few laps but then we had a gearbox failure and were out of the race. Massive thank you to Fortec for putting me in the car this weekend, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself and hope to be back!”