The on track assessments for the GB4 Shoot Out took place at Snetterton today (Friday 10 November), with leading teenage National Formula Ford contenders Brandon McCaughan and Nathan Yu getting behind the wheel of Fortec Motorsport GB4 machinery.
Each driver had use of their own car, provided by the Daventry-based team, and ran in two exclusive sessions on the Norfolk circuit’s 300 layout. The first allowed each driver to get up to speed in slicks and wings machinery, before focusing on pure performance with new tyres during the second.
Chilly conditions made the driving challenge harder, but both contenders were able to complete incident-free running throughout the morning.
The performances of each driver will now be evaluated by Fortec Motorsport, with the winner, who receives a £20,000 contribution towards a GB4 seat in 2023, set to be revealed next week.
For Irishman McCaughan, it was his second attempt at the Shoot Out, after also competing in last year’s event, and he was pleased with the progress he’d made in twelve months.
“This was my second time in a slicks and wings car, and I was able to come into it with a fair idea of what to expect. So I was able to work on what I struggled with [last year] and adapt my driving style from what I would use in Formula Ford. I really knew that I had to come in and be focused on being smooth and consistent with my inputs.
“I was able to be smoother, I made less mistakes and was able to take what I learned last year and use it today.
“Today has been great as I’d not been out in one since last time at the Shoot Out, so it’s great just to keep my eye in to see what would be needed to race, as it’s my plan to race in GB4 next year. Going into the winter, I now know what I need to work on as a driver and gives me an idea of what it takes, and it’s been an all-round good day.
“The prize would be a great help, we’ve had a couple of good sponsors with us this year that are looking to stay on next year. Obviously as well as being a good financial help for next year, it would help get my name out there as you never know what would come from it. It would be another thing to put on the CV when approaching sponsors, and that always helps, and it could be vital for securing a drive next year.”
As for Canadian Yu, today was his first ever experience of a slicks and wings machine, and he was pleased with his progression across the event.
“It’s crazy compared to Formula Ford, it’s nice to have some downforce for once! It was great to learn how a proper race car like a GB4 car handles, and I learned a lot of new techniques. For example in a Ford, just stomping the gas coming in and out of the corners, whereas in a GB4 car you have to progressively do it. I definitely learned a lot today.
“It was very difficult, on my out lap - I might have spun off and had to get back on track, but it’s all part of the learning experience. It’s very different to the Ford, one lap and you’re done with tyres up to temp, but in a GB4 car you’re taking three or four laps to get to proper tyre temperature. It was a cool experience.
“I think I improved most on throttle application. You have to be a lot smoother, in general. I think that’s where I improved the most, and I definitely gained a lot of time there.
“The prize would go quite far, I can tell you now! Every penny would hit the track in a very useful way, but £20,000 is great but obviously having the title as the Shoot Out winner would also be great for the CV for racing, but also for other things as well. It would definitely go a long way in all senses.”
Fortec Motorsport Team Principal Richard Dutton was pleased with what he saw during the day, and the team has a tough assessment to make to judge the winner, who will be announced next week.
"Luckily the weather was nice and dry but very cold. Both drivers did a really good job, and no-one crashed, which was good! They were both very impressive and went quicker and quicker with every lap, so it's been a good day for them and for us. It's going to be a tough decision!
"Nathan hadn't driven a car like this before so he was starting on the back foot, but both drivers did a great job and either would be strong in the GB4 next year if they did it, for sure."