16 AUGUST, 2016 – Racing Steps Foundation backed Alex Quinn extended his lead in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford Rookie Class competition with a hat trick of class victories and two overall race wins at Knockhill circuit, Fife. Fortec Motorsports team-mate Nicolai Kjaergaard also secured two rookie class podiums to close the gap to second place in the 2016 class standings during what proved to be a dramatic weekend for the series.
Quinn wasted no time in acclimatising to the 1.27-mile Scottish circuit and shone when conditions were at their best to set the day’s quickest practice time on Friday. Fortec Motorsports drivers Jamie Caroline (supported by Pirtek Racing), Danish rookie Nicolai Kjaergaard and Ginetta Junior’s graduate Frank Bird set the 12th, 14th and 15th fastest combined practice times respectively.
There was a change in pace on Saturday morning when a bold decision taken by the Daventry based squad, led by team manager Dan Mitchell, meant that all four Fortec drivers were able to impress by the end of qualifying. With a dry line beginning to emerge after a sudden downpour at the start of the session, the team elected to fit the quartet with slick tyres with just minutes on the clock remaining. With only Petru Florescu (Carlin) also on the dry weather tyre, the battle for pole rapidly became about who could get their slicks up to temperature before the chequered flag.
Florescu stole pole position in the closing seconds, but overall it was front of grid domination for Fortec Motorsports. Quinn was second quickest and netted pole for the final race of the weekend, Kjaergaard was fourth followed by Bird in a superb P5, his best qualifying finish of the season, and Caroline, who had twice posted times good enough for provisional pole only to have them removed for track limits and a five place grid penalty carried over from Snetterton a fortnight ago, on row four in P8.
Quinn drove an impeccable first race in the afternoon, chasing Florescu from lights to flag to make a welcome return to the podium and clinch the Rookie win along with the fastest class lap. Kjaergaard defended well for much of the race and kept his nose clean when the more experienced title contenders fought their way through the field. Caroline made up several positions in a solid drive to cross the line in fifth with Kjaergaard in P11.
With a reverse grid for the start of Round 20 on Sunday morning Caroline lined up in P2, Quinn in P7, Kjaergaard P11 and Bird in P13. During the 17 lap contest Caroline received a 10 second time penalty for making a false start, but maintained concentration to defend fiercely against Devlin DeFrancesco and Florescu as they set upon his #38 Fortec Motorsport Mygale-Ford. The Carlin pair’s fortunes took a downturn at Taylor’s Hairpin when they made contact together and slid into the tyre barriers. Following the incident, the officials chose to exclude Florescu from the meeting due to a trackside altercation, whilst DeFrancesco and Caroline were handed ten place grid penalties to be taken when possible to do so.
Quinn found himself in the middle of the leading pack action, but despite just missing out on a main podium at the end of the eventful race, claimed his 11th Rookie class win of the year. Bird closed out the top 10 with Kjaergaard following in P11 and taking the third place Rookie trophy.
In true British F4 fashion, the weekend finale was not short of drama either. Quinn made an impressive start from pole position for his Fortec team only to suffer a lack of straight line pace which was to endure until the chequered flag. Despite this handicap, he completed a hat trick of Rookie class victories and fastest laps by achieving a third place podium finish to conclude Sunday afternoon.
Jamie Caroline, who started Round 21 in P12 and DeFrancesco resumed their earlier battle, this time for eighth position. Caroline came up trumps at the chequered flag with his Danish team mate Kjaergaard rounding out the top ten and closing the gap to second place in the Rookie class to just five points with a second place trophy. For the majority of his race Bird was locked in close combat with Ayrton Simmons (TRS Arden) and took the chequered flag in P14.
With the time sheet for round 19 amended by the stewards after Florescu’s exclusion from the meeting, Quinn was awarded the overall race one win, with Caroline promoted to fourth and Kjaergaard earning a point for P10.
Dan Mitchell, team manager, Fortec Motorsports:
“Firstly, I’d like to say a big thanks to all my guys; Saturday morning qualifying was a complete team effort to get all four drivers in to the top six. Alex took advantage of his high qualifying position which eventually saw us pick up our first win since Donington, which is a great feeling.
“Frank, Nic and Jamie struggled for pace in race one, which gradually got better in race three, but we’ve got to work much harder to convert these higher positions in to valuable points. Pole in race three proved difficult to convert as a failing wire loom caused Alex to lose a significant amount of straight line speed, which got progressively worse through out the race. But he drove superbly through the corners to nurse a sick car home into third place.”
Alex Quinn, #7 Fortec Motorsports
“In the last race I lost the lead to Zane on the opening lap and I think that was just down to tyre temperature which we have been struggling with all weekend, but I’m still really happy with this. A win in race one and a podium is not a bad thing to be coming out of the weekend with. I’m really happy with my performance and the team’s performance. It’s definitely been a step higher after the summer break. It’s great to be back at the top here and I’m looking forward to the next round.”
Nicolai Kjaergaard, #63 Fortec Motorsports
“It’s been a tough weekend really. We’ve struggled with the setup of the car and I haven’t managed to adapt to this track as well as I would have hoped. I still managed to keep some of the rookies’ behind me though which has given me good points for the Rookie Championship.”
Rounds 22, 23, 24 of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford take place on 27-28, August at the Rockingham Motor Speedway, Northamptonshire.