Philipp Eng added his name to the record books as a Formula Two race winner with a convincing victory today at Brands Hatch. The 19-year-old Austrian started from the pole, led throughout and finished the race 0.494 seconds ahead of Andy ...
Philipp Eng added his name to the record books as a Formula Two race winner with a convincing victory today at Brands Hatch. The 19-year-old Austrian started from the pole, led throughout and finished the race 0.494 seconds ahead of Andy Soucek.
"I was nervous as Andy put me under so much pressure," Eng recalled. "He was really quick in the back part of the circuit, in the fast corners, but I managed to keep my position. The key now is consistency, definitely."
"It is my first victory and it feels great," he added.
Soucek, who had started from second, had a slightly better start off the line than Eng, but couldn't quite make it into the first corner ahead of his rival. He then pressed Eng through much of the race, but could not force the Austrian to make an error. However, the pair were fast enough to stay out of the way of the next challengers, the trio of Kazim Vasiliauskas, Henry Surtees and Robert Wickens.
"I tried to put Philipp under pressure but he resisted well," Soucek confirmed. "I picked up some points over my main challengers (Wickens, Julien Jousse and Tobias Hegewald), but it is still not enough."
Vasiliauskas had made a great start from fourth, pipping Surtees into the first corner, and he held off Surtees and Wickens for much of the first half of the race. However, on the eleventh lap, Sebastian Hohenthal's car coasted to a halt on the track just before Sterlings Bend just after the Swede had managed to make his way past Carlos Iaconelli for eighth place. With the car just off the racing line, the stewards were forced to call out the safety car.
On the restart, then, Vasiliauskas ran wide at Paddock Hill Bend, his cold tires quite free of any grip, and Surtees and Wickham streamed through the wide-open door.
"It's a bit of a relief really," Surtees admitted. "I only had two points before this race even though we've had a pole and we've set fastest laps in practice. It's nice to actually finish a race!"
Wickens took fourth, just holding off Vasiliauskas, who was 0.271 seconds behind at the chequered flag. Iaconelli, Milos Pavlovic and Edoardo Piscopo took the final three points-paying positions.
With the win, Soucek reinforced his position atop the point standings: he now leads Wickens with 36 points to 31, with Jousse -- who crashed out today while trying to pass Iaconelli -- third with 25.
Soucek is well-positioned, then, for tomorrow's second race, especially as he clinched the pole position for it in this morning's second qualifying session with a time of 1:16.947, half a second faster than Eng's first-race pole-winning time.
Wickens looks to be a threat, though: the Canadian was only 0.028 seconds slower than Soucek in the session, and the race to the first corner should be close. But both Soucek and Wickens know that the most important thing at this stage is to continue scoring championship points.
"I am just happy to be on the front row for tomorrow's race," Wickens said after qualifying. "The main thing is consistency - there's no question that the pace is there because it's been there the whole year."
Tomorrow's second race will go green at 12:45 BST.