Daniel Morad did what he needed to, outdueling Philipp Eng in the third heat race of the Formula BMW World Finals this afternoon at the Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia. With the victory, Morad is now the favourite for starting on pole...
Daniel Morad did what he needed to, outdueling Philipp Eng in the third heat race of the Formula BMW World Finals this afternoon at the Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia. With the victory, Morad is now the favourite for starting on pole position in Sunday afternoon's race.
The race, third of six heat races, was widely anticipated to be the highlight of the day as it would showcase the thw two fastest drivers of the weekend, Eng and Morad. Eng had the pole position, thanks to his Super Pole victory competition yesterday afternoon. It was not to last, though.
"I knew after watching the first heat how Eng does his starts," Morad explained his plan. "He immediately closes the inside, so before he had a chance to do that, I was ahead of him. That was my plan: to get a good start, and I ended up getting a good launch off the line."
Eng put up a good fight, but the first corner was Morad's, without any doubt. "Daniel had a very good start, and I had a very bad start," Eng summed things up after the race. "I had a lot wheelspin, because I had too much throttle."
In fact, Marco Wittmann, starting from third, also managed to get around Eng at the start, though he only managed to hold on to second place for a few corners before the Austrian claimed it back for good.
From there, the twosome ran away with the race, finishing with a 9.1-second gap to third-placed Wittman. Eng never let Morad get very far, but could not get close enough to make a move, either.
"It wasn't easy, because (Eng) was really fast," Morad recounted. "Every lap for me was like a qualifying lap, and I think the same for him. We kept on pushing, and we were doing close to qualifying times. We couldn't conserve anything."
Eng took one more shot at the start of the final lap, but it was really less than it looked -- more of a friendly jab than a real passing attempt.
"On the last lap, I took a look inside on the first turn, I tried to make Daniel a bit nervous," Eng admitted. "I think I did it pretty well, I pushed him pretty hard but he was concentrating and there was no possibility to overtake him."
But both drivers knew there was nothing to it, and Morad easily shut the door. At the end of the lap, just 0.681 seconds separated them as they crossed the line.
Behind Wittmann, Kevin Mirocha took fourth, followed Daniel Campos and Sebastian Saavedra.
The disaster of the race belonged to Sam Abay this time -- and it happened even before the start. The team was late getting the car out to the pit lane for the grid, and missed the cut-off, forcing the Australian to start from the pit lane instead of the fourth grid position he had earned.
"There is no one in particular to blame, but we just missed the start," he rued the events. "I got to the end of the pit lane, and there was no one there so I thought, 'Oh, I'm early.' And then, all of a sudden, I saw the cars on my left leaving for the warmup lap. And when I exited the pit lane, the last car had already gone around turn one. And I had stone-cold tires, too ..."
Abay did recover to finish 12th, but he drops in the standings to a shared 12th position before tomorrow morning's final heat race.
In the second race, the German Formula BMW series champion Jens Klingmann did not hesitate to jump into the lead at the start, and away from Josef Kral, with whom he had tangled in the first race of the day, leading to his disastrous DNF. Kral got another good start, passing front-row starter Carlos Huertas, but could not catch Klingmann this time.
Klingmann, who picked up the maximum 18 points for his first-lap spin, was determined to take victory in this heat race, and drove a solid race en route to a zero points score; this moves him into shared 17th place before tomorrow morning's heat races. Withj a good result Klingmann still has a chance for a top-ten starting position.
"This morning's heat race, it was very frustrating," Klingmann admitted honestly. "But, in the end, that's racing."
Kral finished the race 1.1 seconds adrift of Klingmann, but still 3.5 seconds in front of Huertas. And the three were well ahead of the pack: fourth-placed Jonathan Legris was 11.7 seconds of the winning pace, with Mexico's Esteban Guterriez a fraction of a second behind him. Nial Quinn took sixth, and Alexander Rossi recovered from his first-race incident to take seventh less than a second ahead of Daniel McKenzie.
Missing from the second race was Jordan Dick, who was excluded from the World Final subsequent to an off-track altercation with Rossi after Dick hit Rossi's wounded car in the first heat race of the day.
The two remaining heat races tomorrow morning will decide the grid for the final. Morad is looking good for the pole position, provided that he drives a clean race against Group B with Klingmann and Kral, for tomorrow morning -- a second-place finish is enough to give the Canadian pole position for the afternoon's final.
"Klingmann is not a factor for me, though," the Eurointernational driver reflected. "Even if I finish second, I would still start from pole because I finished ahead of Eng today in the head-to-head. Tomorrow morning doesn't really matter so much anyway, it's the (final) in the afternoon that I really want to win."
The heat races are scheduled for 9:00 and 9:45 AM CET, with the final to start at 2:50 PM CET tomorrow.