Weekend marred by technical infringement

Race 1: Qualified 1st, Finished 1st
Race 2: Qualified 1st, Finished 1st – excluded with technical infringement

Duncan was on his way to a perfect weekend until a minor technical infringement left officials with no option but to exclude him from Race Two, which he had won.

He had made huge strides in his Formula Renault UK Championship bid by claiming two pole positions, two race wins and two fastest laps and had extended his lead in the title battle with his nearest rival, Fortec team-mate Dean Smith, who struggled at the Kent circuit. Duncan was racing at Brands Hatch – the track where he won the prestigious Formula Ford Festival in 2005.

A drying track on Saturday morning proved slightly challenging but no barrier to Duncan’s charge this weekend. On wet tyres, he put in an early fast lap which stood for pole position until Alexander Sims managed to beat it. With four minutes of the session remaining Duncan came into the pits to make a minor change and to allow the overheated wet tyres to cool down.

The strategy worked and Duncan reclaimed pole position. In the afternoon, qualifying for Race Two was more straightforward with two really fast laps that were unbeatable.

Race One was the epitome of a driver’s perfect race. He led from the start. By the end of the first lap he was a whole second clear of the rest and continued to lap quickly crossing the line 24 laps later, five seconds before his nearest rival.

Race Two was also a driver’s dream, getting off the line well and leading from start to finish with another fastest lap giving him maximum points from the weekend. This all changed following a protest from a rival team and on close inspection by scrutineers a technical infringement was found relating to the fixation of the floor.

Dave Moore, Team Manager Fortec Motorsport, explained: “The floor of the car is bolted to the chassis with bolts which are removed and replaced each time the car is stripped down as is routine. Fortec has chosen to use particular bolts for their high tensile properties that mean the bolt can be tightened most effectively to ensure that the floor doesn’t become loose.

“Over the course of the season the tightening has deformed the carbon composite material that forms the floor and as such the floor has been deemed to be modified. I have no doubt that this has not had any effect on the performance of the car.

“Fortec prides itself on the highest level of preparation and it is very unfortunate that our attention to the detail of getting the best bolt for the job has worked against us – and in particular Duncan. Duncan has shown that he has the talent to win and doesn’t need any help by bending the rules.

“We will be going over all of our cars with a fine tooth comb to make sure that this can’t happen again. Duncan’s championship position is obviously affected but I don’t believe that taking away his win will have any impact on how people that matter in the industry view Duncan and his indisputable excellent performance this season.”

Duncan said: “I’m gutted about what’s happened but we’re not going to appeal as we risk a harsher punishment. As it is, I’m only seven points behind Dean and I can still win this championship and that’s what I intend to do. I’ve won the last four races and there’s no reason why that run can’t continue.”

Duncan’s next event is at Donington Park. Leicestershire on 8/9th September.

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