• Fortec Motorsport extend podium tally to 11 for the season
  • Joel Granfors takes a podium at Spa to sit second in points
  • Zak Taylor shows fight for first ever podium of rookie season

Fortec Motorsport kept the pressure up in the GB3 Championship title fight thanks to a brace of podium finishes at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium last weekend (23/24 July).

It would be the first international trip of the GB3 season for the experienced Daventry team, leaving the UK for the iconic 3.5-mile Belgian circuit for the latest three races as they looked to grab back the championship lead in the fifth meeting of the year.

Leading the charge heading into the trip was Sweden’s Joel Granfors, arriving with an 11-point deficit to make up in the Ardennes over title rival Luke Browning, and the pair would soon find themselves in combat once again as they were so intensely at the previous meeting at Snetterton.

Fastest in the second of Friday’s three practice sessions, the team turned their attentions to qualifying as all three red and white Tatuus MSV-022 cars tried to utilise the slipstream around the colossal F1 circuit. Granfors would be top of the Fortec Motorsport trio with a late flying lap that propelled him up onto the front row, while a late red flag spoiled the final attempts of his team-mates Mikkel Grundtvig and Zak Taylor.

Saturday would host the first two races, with Granfors instantly showing his intentions from the moment the lights went out in the opening contest. The slipstream would be strong enough for him to drag past Browning and into the early lead, but after a safety car interruption the places were reversed in the same manner.

Granfors – already with seven podium finishes to his name in his rookie season – gave chase, holding his position to follow home in second place, taking the team’s 10th podium of 2022. Taylor made a blistering start to gain eight places on a frenetic first lap, trailing home Grundtvig in 17th and 16th respectively.

The second outing later that afternoon would be another feisty one initially, as Granfors made it three-abreast on the Kemmel Straight to boldly grab the lead from third on the grid around the outside at Les Combes for the first time. A lap later, the slipstream disadvantage put him back down to second spot, but he kept the pressure on Browning all the way to the flag to double his tally of second place finishes in Spa. Unfortunately, Granfors would be moved back to fourth after a penalty was applied for crowding during his dice for the lead. Taylor again gained spots early on, following home Grundtvig who was 17th.

Taylor’s misfortune from qualifying did give him the chance to make amends in the third and final race of the weekend on Sunday, which would feature the reverse grid system that put the British youngster on pole position, Grundtvig starting fourth with Granfors down in 21st.

A determined Taylor made an excellent start but ended the second lap in third place after falling victim to the slipstream into Les Combes, but he was not to be deterred and instantly copied the move to make it three-abreast down the Kemmel Straight on lap two, almost grabbing the lead back.

A red flag interruption halted proceedings, after which Taylor headed the Fortec charge as he defended second place. What followed – as Taylor finished fourth after a safety car – was declared null and void, after a judicial deemed the grid building procedure prior to the restart as not in accordance with the regulations. Results went back as far as to the end of lap one, meaning Taylor was granted a maiden podium finish in third.

Grundtvig – already winner of two reverse grid races this season – was promoted from a non-finish to seventh place, having ended in the gravel after contact damaged a wishbone on the restart. A fine recovery from Granfors netted a gain of nine positions over the whole race although he would be handed 16th, keeping the Swede second in the table and 31.5 points adrift.

Fortec Motorsport remain third in the Teams’ Championship after a competitive weekend, returning to Silverstone GP circuit this weekend (30/31 July) for the next three GB3 Championship races.

Oliver Dutton, Team Manager said:

“It’s been another tight weekend, but we came out of it still right in contention for the Drivers’ Championship. We kept up the pressure and almost managed to break the balance with fresher tyres in race two, but to come away right on the tail of the points leader in all three races keeps us in mind ahead of Silverstone where we won earlier in the year. Mikkel was unlucky, while Zak drove his heart out in race three and was finally rewarded with a top three result.”

#21 Zak Taylor

“A difficult weekend initially with several issues, but it’s good to end the weekend on a positive note and get my first podium finish in GB3. I want to thank the team for their continued support, and we’ll keep fighting for more at Silverstone.”

#43 Mikkel Grundtvig

“Not the weekend I was expecting here at Spa. I struggled to find the pace and with a difficult qualifying it made the further days challenging. Race three didn’t end how I expected either, but I was still able to get a result despite ending it in the gravel with a broken wishbone. I would like to say I hope David Morales is okay after his big shunt. Now reset and full focus for Silverstone.”

#50 Joel Granfors

“Another good weekend for us. After the first lap of race one I think it was only going to be a matter of time before we were attacked as we’d saved our good tyres for the second race. Then in that, we were three-wide on the Kemmel straight and I don’t know how we survived after I was hit! I didn’t have the pace to Browning, he was just a bit too quick, especially in the beginning. Towards the end it kind of stabilised between us, but we’ll be back at Silverstone.”

Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography