Marcus Ericsson was in strong form again at Brands Hatch in rounds 15 and 16 of the Formula BMW UK championship, and this time he was able to convert his speed into a double victory, avoiding the disappointment of Snetterton, where a clutch problem dropped him out of the lead in the second race of the weekend.
"I had a good first race, especially as Josef (Kral) struggled, although the rain made it tricky," the young Swede recalled. "It was particularly slippery into Paddock Hill but one of the most worrying moments was passing some backmarkers."
The Fortec Motorsport driver beat his teammate, Henry Arundel, to the flag by an impressive 6.2 seconds in the first, rain-soaked race, while championship leader Josef Kral struggled with severe understeer in his Raikkonen Robertson Racing entry, finishing in tenth place and nearly 50 seconds off Ericsson's pace.
"I just didn't have the pace at the start," Arundel explained. "But I was running at the same speed as Ericsson by the end. The weather makes it tougher but it's the same for everyone so it's a good result."
Valle Makela took third place in the first race for Nexa Racing, just a second behind Arundel as the Finn looked in vain for an opportunity to make a pass late in the race.
By the time the green flag waved for the second race, the track had dried out, bringing back "normal" race conditions, but it was still all Ericsson at the front. The field bunched up after a mid-race incident between Michael Moyers and Jordan Williams brought out the safety car, but Ericsson handled the restart with aplomb.
"I was a little nervous, but I did it well and managed to build a gap again," he explained "I'm glad to be back in the lead and I'm really confident going to Knockhill. I'll do my best and just see how far it will take me."
Behind him it was Kral this time, but the Czech pilot could not challenge Ericsson, finishing three seconds behind at the chequered flag. In fact, Kral appeared to be holding up Arundel (third) and Makela (fourth), who crossed the line just 0.134 and 0.628 seconds adrift of their rival.
"The car was much better this afternoon but still not perfect so I just couldn't go as quick as Marcus," Kral explained. "I can still win the championship so hopefully Knockhill will be better."
Ericsson's wins, the fourth and fifth of the Formula BMW United Kingdom season, were enough to leapfrog Kral and Arundel and take the lead heading into the season finale at Knockhill in a fortnight's time. Ericsson now has 584 points -- and five wins in the fourteen races -- to Arundel's 571 and Kral's 565, so it will be a race to victory in order to win the championship.
The season will then be capped by the optional World Finals, to be held in Valencia, Spain from 22nd to 25th of November; the top drivers from all four Formula BMW series worldwide will compete at this event for glory -- and a test drive with the Formula BMW Sauber team.