Eng, Morad draw first blood in World Final heats

Philipp Eng and Daniel Morad took victories in the first two heat races this morning in the Formula BMW World Final heat races. With the points-scoring system used for the heat races, the two have now taken their first steps toward a front-row...

Philipp Eng and Daniel Morad took victories in the first two heat races this morning in the Formula BMW World Final heat races. With the points-scoring system used for the heat races, the two have now taken their first steps toward a front-row start for Sunday's final.

Eng, the winner of the Super Pole yesterday, started from pole in the first heat race, the match-up between groups A and B. Holding off the German series champion, Jens Klingmann, at the start, Eng took the first corner cleanly while Klingmann was being challenged by the fourth-place starter, Josef Kral.

"The start wasn't too good, but I could defend my position," Eng recalled. "I looked at the data from the race and it's good. But Daniel Morad (whom Eng will race in the afternoon) will be a tough one. It will be the toughest heat of the three, so it will be an interesting race for both of us."

Kral dove inside Klingmann as the front-runners made their way around turn two, and the two then made contact in turn three, with Klingmann spinning off into the gravel trap. The Eifelland Racing driver threw his steering wheel on the ground in frustration; the first-lap DNF cost him 18 points, and will likely put him on the fifth row at best on the grid for the final.

Eng powered through to a comfortable 1.7-second victory, followed by Kral. Behind them, Sebastian Saavedra came through from seventh position on the grid. The Colombian passed two cars, plus the beach Klingmann, on the first lap, and then dispatched Henry Arundel on the third lap.

"It was a great start and a great first two corners for me," Saavedra explained. "When everyone ahead of me took the inside in turn one I went around the outside to overtake three positions by the second corner. I moved up one more position when my teammate (Klingmann) dropped out and then continued to keep the pace of the front runners."

Jonathan Legris and third-place starter Marc Wittmann followed Saavedra in fourth and fifth. Arundel eventually finished sixth.

There was disappointment for the US fans as Alexander Rossi and Legris collided on lap three. Legris was able to continue, and eventually took fourth. Rossi, though, was out of the race, and to add insult to injury, his injured car was further hit by Jordan Dick, at the time running in 12th place.

The second heat race saw Daniel Morad take on Carlos Huertas on the front row. Morad, the US series champion, took a clean start while Huertas stumbled, dropping to fourth. Instead, Morad's challenge came from Sam Abay, the young Australian getting an excellent start from third position to challenge Morad for the first corner.

"(Abay) had a better start," Morad admitted. "He was challenging for the first corner so I had to close the door a little bit. After that, the car was perfect. With me and Abay, the pace was so quick, so I tried to let off a little bit to conserve the tires, so in the end I was pushing maybe 80%."

Abay, running with Double R Racing for this weekend, had been quick in the Super Pole competition, and he and Morad were trading quick laps through much of the race.

"I almost got past Morad," Abay reflected. "But he defended his position quite nicely, so there was nothing I could do. It was tough, but fair -- I would have done the same in his position. We were then setting pretty much identical lap times, and I set the fastest lap, but I think there's really nothing in it. It's early days still ..."

Behind them, Niall Quinn took third,a full 10 seconds adrift of Morad  .
Kevin Mirocha and Huertes took fourth and fifth places                 .

Meanwhile, Esteban Guterriez had a coming-together with Adrien Tambay at the first turn, the young Mexican blaming his brakes for the incident. However, Tambay had the worst of it, and the Frenchman had to abandon the race without having made it around a single corner.

The third and fourth heat races will be run in the afternoon, with the final two set for Sunday morning.

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