F4 Spain: Lena Bühler completes challenging Le Castellet round with P17 in race 3
In an action-packed final race from Le Castellet, Spanish F4 racer Lena Bühler completed a challenging weekend by recovering two positions from her starting place, in a round influenced by a Saturday accident.
Lena Bühler's weekend at Le Castellet, France, had all the potential to be the best to date in terms of results for the rookie F4 driver. Unfortunately, an accident in Race 1 influenced all the remainder of the French round and, with a more difficult car to drive and such a tight and crowded grid, Bühler endured a challenging final day at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Coming from an early morning second qualifying session, Lena was 19th fastest in very windy conditions and on a green track. While team Drivex had completed an impressive job in fixing her car after Saturday's roll-over crash, the handling of the #15 F4 Tatuus was likely compromised.
It was a MP Motorsport 1-2-3 in the 15-minute qualifying, as Mari Boya took pole from Joshua Dufek and Oliver Goethe. Lorenzo Fluxá, who secured podium in race 2 but saw his third place being taken away for a post-race penalty, was fourth - edging weekend dominator Filip Ugran by 0.009 of a second.
When the lights went out for one last time at the French circuit, Boya had a good start, while Dufek was slower off the line but the top-3 held positions. Behind them, Ugran was quick to jump Fluxá, who also lost out to championship leader Havekort in the fourth MP car.
Bühler had a battling couple of laps as she fought with Shameli and Lopez for P20 and P21.
From the second lap onwards, the race at the front was a frantic yet throughly entertaining series of position changes: Goethe initially dropped behind the group of leaders, with Ugran passing Boya - the latter having lost first place to his teammate Dufek.
In the opening stages, Havekort seemed struggling a bit more to keep the pace with the front runners: he went offline and lost two positions - almost collecting Nosov as he rejoined.
Romanian ace Filip Ugran was on the move and, after winning the two opening races at Le Castellet, the Jenzer driver caught up quickly with Dufek in the lead.
But it wasn't all about the top-five: the whole field provided some of the most exciting racing of the weekend and, towards the back of the pack, Eriksen was passed by Ferati with a bold move at Turn 1 on the fourth lap, also trailing Bordas behind. Havekort tried to recover the lost positions and moved back ahead of Nosov - the Russian cutting the chicane soon after, rejoining in P8 right in front of Carles Martinez.
Meanwhile, more position changes were happening at the front: Goethe made a very important move stick on Boya to advance into third place. In a breath-taking sequence of overtakings, Ugran went into the lead, but Dufek fought back: after a prolonged side-by-side battle, the Swiss was forced to surrender his position. But it wasn't long before Oliver Goethe joined the action and claimed the first place, with also Fluxa now catching up with the three drivers in contention for the victory.
Ugran defended hard from the attacks of Boya, thus allowing Goethe to gain a small safe margin. The Romanian held off the charge of the MP cars - with Havekort also completing his recovery. The latter briefly advanced into third, but Mari Boya could claim his position back.
After a jaw-dropping 20-minute race, Oliver Goethe extended his lead and took the chequered flag to win Race 3 by over three seconds over Ugran and Boya. Havekort was fourth, leading Dufek and Fluxa. Nosov held off Simonazzi in another entertaining battle in the closing stages and was seventh.
Lena Bühler moved up the order and was protagonist of some good moves on Lopez and Bordas. She was 17th across the line.
While a P13 and a P17 are certainly not the results the young Swiss racer expected and with few points left on the table, Lena Bühler can now regroup and look forward to the next round at Jerez with high hopes, as she proved to belong to the top-five or six in a very competitive field.
The Spanish F4 championship will in fact make its return to the racetrack on 19.20 September at Jerez for its third seasonal round.