Ollie Hancock25-year-old Hampshire racing driver Ollie Hancock scored another podium in only his second GT3 outing, this time driving a Fortec Motorsports-prepared Mercedes SLS GT3 in the opening round of this year’s British GT Championship at Oulton Park last weekend.

With just a solitary morning of rain-lashed pre-season testing under his belt, the former factory Lotus driver experienced dry weather running for the first time in Saturday’s practice session, before a strong qualifying performance from co-driver Benji Hetherington gave Fortec an astonishing pole position on their sportscar racing debut.

Hetherington started the race superbly, overcoming advantage-eroding safety cars and opening up an early lead on the Trackspeed Porsche of Jon Minshaw. Having taken over the wheel at the halfway point, Hancock re-emerged from the pits directly into a battle with Phil Keen and factory Porsche driver Nick Tandy.

Defending hard, the 2008 Formula Renault BARC champion held the lead for another five laps until Tandy slipped by on the inside of Druids corner, forcing Hancock wide on to the exit kerb which also allowed Keen to pass. Having made his point, Hancock held station until the chequered flag to provide himself and Hetherington with a third place finish in the hour-long event.

Race two was a little less eventful after starting lower down the order in 20th position due to a fraught qualifying session. A dogged attempt by both drivers saw the car climb as high as 13th before its retirement late in the race with gearbox failure.

Ollie Hancock: “It’s been a fantastic but challenging weekend for everybody at Fortec. They only took delivery of the cars three weeks ago and with minimal testing this weekend has been a step into the unknown. I only got the call to race on Friday afternoon, and although we’re playing catch up, we’ve improved the car each and every time we went on track. To come away with a pole and third place finish is great, especially with our 65kg weight penalty! It’s been a lot of fun and a superb team effort, and the result is really testament to how good Fortec are. A big thank you to Richard and Trevor for having me in the car; I’m really hoping to be back for more at the next round.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.