Fresh off of his best weekend of the season thus far, Doug Fortin took his #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./General Tire/E3 Spark Plugs Pro-4 south of the border to contest Rounds 7 and 8 of the 2016 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series championship, held right on the beach at the picturesque Estero Beach Resort in Ensenada, Baja California, México. Baja has been a happy hunting ground for Fortin during his days as a desert racer (he has five Baja 1000 wins to his name), and after a rough first go of things as a short course racer here last season, Fortin turned the tables this year and put together his most solid performance of the year to date.
“We had pretty good momentum from our third and fourth place finishes in Utah,” Fortin said of the lead up to this event, “and we just had to keep the momentum going. The truck’s good on fast tracks, so we were eager to get down here and see what we could do.”
Practice and qualifying for Round 7 went well for Fortin, with the truck’s setup coming together quickly, and Fortin was really enjoying the challenge of the unique, fast and sandy track conditions. The field would start straight up after a zero inversion from qualifying, so Fortin’s fourth place in qualifying put him on the outside of row two.
Unfortunately, that wound up being a distinct disadvantage as the field swept through turn one and into turn two on the first lap, as the man directly ahead of Fortin, Kyle LeDuc, spun wildly right in front of Fortin, forcing him to check up hard and lose some control as well. Fortin was then hit hard by Adrian Cenni, and the whole incident cost Fortin two positions. Determined to bounce back, Fortin put his head down and charged forward, and with some very heads up driving amidst a mad pack of four drivers mid-race, Fortin fought his way up to finish fourth. “It was a bummer getting bumped back on the first lap,” Fortin lamented afterwards. “I was just dealing with all the roost, and I felt let down to only get fourth; I was maybe a little too conservative.”
Sunday morning qualifying for Round 8 again went well for Fortin, and he again clocked in fourth quickest, this time within under half a second of the pole. Unfortunately, Fortin then failed post-race tech inspection after his truck’s ride height was found to be too low, and so he would wind up starting sixth.
Unbowed, Fortin started the race out very strong, picking off Rob MacCachren with a nice drifting pass on the second lap to move up to fifth. Next was Bryce Menzies, whom Fortin swept past exiting turn three on the following lap, and after mistakes from both Carl Renezeder and Greg Adler ahead of him, Fortin found himself in second just past the halfway mark. With the race distances being cut from 16 to just 12 laps here in Ensenada due to excessive fuel consumption on this very soft track, Fortin found himself wishing for more laps, as he felt that having just a little more time to work with could’ve given him a chance to challenge the leader Kyle LeDuc. As it was, Fortin’s truck was still the quickest down the front straight (111 mph!), worked well everywhere on the track, and when combined with some solid driving on his part, Fortin was easily able to hang on to second, making this his best finish of the season so far.
Up next, Fortin heads to Glen Helen Raceway in southern California, a track Fortin is quite fond of. “I’m looking forward to Glen Helen; the truck’s always fast there, and our tires give us good grip there. It’s tight; you almost spend more time in the air than on the ground, but I’m ready,” Fortin said.
Doug would like to thank all of his sponsors for their valued and continued support:
Fortin Racing, Inc.
E3 Spark Plugs
Toyota of Escondido Action Sports
Maxima Racing Oils
Fox Racing Shox
Method Race Wheels
Toyota Racing Development
Automotive Racing Products
McGrath Fiberglass Products
Gibson Performance Exhaust
Cool It Thermo-Tec
For more information, please visit www.fortinracing.com