- Daventry team score third victory of 2021 season at Brands Hatch.
- Hedley maintains points lead, Fortec stay top in highly competitive Teams Cup.
- Solid points haul for Granfors and Gray, series heads next to Oulton Park in July.
Fortec Motorsport maintained its comfortable points lead in the F4 British Championship after another victory courtesy of championship leader James Hedley at Brands Hatch, Kent last weekend (26-27 June).
The Daventry-based team arrived at the 1.2-mile Indy circuit fighting on all fronts, holding the upper hand in the Driver’s and Teams’ Championships, and with Ollie Gray just a few points shy of the Rookie Cup lead.
All three cars qualified inside the top ten, giving the team a platform to build on for the triple header of races ahead. First up, in a slight change to the format, was the reverse grid contest.
Hedley put in one of the drives of the race, moving up through the order from the fifth row of the grid to run fourth at the point of a mid-race safety car interruption. When the race resumed, the BRDC Rising Star hounded the back of Bolger ahead for the final podium spot.
An attempted move at Paddock Hill Bend – which worked superbly on his rise through the pack – was well-defended against, causing Hedley to lose momentum and drop back to sixth. Contact from another car at Graham Hill Bend on the final lap then left Hedley with a rear-left puncture, and he finished an undeserving 15th after such a strong run.
Despite Hedley’s troubles, both Gray and Joel Granfors made superb progress through the reversed grid, gaining seven and three positions respectively to take the chequered flag fifth and eighth on the road, Gray third amongst the Rookies.
Hedley would not be denied a trip to the winner’s circle in a wet-dry-wet thriller on Sunday morning. After a late call on the grid for all three cars to switch to wet compound Hankook tyres, Hedley began another charge through the pack.
After gaining four spots on the opening lap to run sixth, he gradually picked off the competition one-by-one to run second behind early leader Zagazeta at half-distance.
He made the move at Clearways on the inside line before extending his advantage, but a change in the conditions late on threatened his lead. He was caught and passed by chief title rival Rees with six minutes to go, but another shift in the conditions brought the race back towards Hedley, who responded moments later and duly powered to a third win of the season by 6.1 seconds.
Granfors and Gray made it another triple points score in eighth and ninth respectively, before the Swede secured his best result of the weekend in race three, finishing sixth behind Hedley, with Gray 11th.
As a result, Hedley now leads the championship by 20 points over Rees, whilst Gray now sits 22 points back of the Rookie Cup lead. In the Teams Cup, Fortec lead second-placed JHR by 18 points as the series heads next to Oulton Park, Cheshire on 31 July – 01 August.
Oliver Dutton, Team Manager said:
“It hasn’t been the easiest weekend, so to leave with our third victory of the season, our championship leads intact, and a good points haul is definitely the positive to take from it.
“James was so unlucky to be hit on the final lap in race one, but the team made a great call on strategy for race two and it really paid off. We struggled with setup before qualifying, so to go from there to the top step of the podium is a really good effort.
“Joel and Ollie haven’t had the weekends they both hoped for, but it’s such a long season ahead and the trick is to keep it consistent and keep scoring points. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way, but it’s pushing those weekends to one side and concentrating on the next that counts in these situations.
“There’s a bit of a break now until Oulton Park, so time for a well-deserved break all round and then we’ll get back to work and see how we can keep improving next time out.”
Joel Granfors (#5) said:
“It’s been a weekend of mixed feelings, but at the end of the day I have learned a lot. Again, qualifying proved to be our main weakness, even though it was slightly better here.
“We were a couple of places too far back to seriously put ourselves in contention, but it was extremely close and just a few tenths would have made the difference to pole position.
“It’s tough competition here, but it’s the best way to evolve as a driver, so it’s just how it should be.”
Oliver Gray (#63) said:
“It wasn’t the weekend we’d hoped for. We’ve kept ourselves in the mix in the Rookie Cup, but it’s the overall championship we need to starting making up for lost ground in.
“We scored some solid points, but the focus at Oulton Park has to be to start turning some of these Rookie podiums into overall ones. There’s a long way to go yet, and I’m feeling very motivated – we just need things to go our way a little bit more, but it’ll get there.”
James Hedley (#67) said:
“Given the weekend we had, to come away from Brands Hatch still leading the championship by a good margin is really the best we could have hoped for.
“The team made a great call to go on wets for the second race, and from there it was down to me to deliver. To get my third win of the season is a good boost, and it just reminds everybody of what we’re capable of when things are going our way.
“It definitely feels like we managed to turn a difficult weekend around, and with plenty of good points behind us we can now look forward to Oulton Park for hopefully more of the same.”