Each of the 35 drivers at this year's Formula BMW World Final has now been through a full two hours of practice at the Autodromo Ricardo Tormo, acclimatizing to the cool valencian weather and learning the shortened 3.1-km configuration the event is using this year.
Through the six 40-minute practice sessions -- three for each of the two groups -- the fastest driver has been Philipp Eng. The 17-year-old Austrian clocked a time of 1:17.289 in his Mucke Motorsport entry in the final practice session of the day. Eng, who finished third in this year's German Formula BMW championship, was the only driver to better 1:17.4.
As drivers are permitted only three new sets of dry tires, plus one used set from the last race of the season, tire strategy has been at the top of everyone's mind. 120 minutes of practice, 30 minutes of qualifying -- and Super Pole competition for the top eight drivers -- are enough in themselves. But those are followed by three three 25-minute heat races and the main event itself, so it's critical to not over-use new tires early in the weekend.
Eng, like most other drivers, scrubbed in a fresh set of tires to set his quick time. In addition, both Eng and second-placed Jens Klingmann, appeared to have benefited from some drafting along the long straights, with top speeds 10-15 km/h faster than other top runners.
Klingmann, running in the first group, set a time 1:17.436 for Eifelland Racing. After that, it was a big gap: Henry Arundel (Fortec Motorsport) crossed the line at 1:17.573, Josef Kral (Mucke Motorsport) set a time of 1:17.756, and Daniel Morad (Eurointernational) was fifth with 1:17.658.
Morad, though, was blocked on his quick lap, and noted that his first-sector time was the fastest by a tenth.
"I pretty much need to do what I did in practice," he said. "I could have been right with (Eng), even without drafting. I think I have the potential by myself to do the pole."
Qualifying will be in two separate 30-minute sessions, one for each group. The top four drivers from each group will move on to the Super Pole competition, and the four fastest Super Pole drivers will be guaranteed front-row starting positions in tomorrow's heat races.