F4 Spain: W-Series hopefuls battle for top-10 in Jerez
W-Series candidates Belen Garcia, Nerea Marti and Irina Sidorkova were back on the Spanish F4 grid this weekend at Jerez, competing for the top-10.
After an almost 3-months long summer break, Spanish Formula 4 made its return this weekend at Circuit Jerez Angel Nieto, in the South of Spain.
The series has featured three of the most interesting youngsters competing in F4 championships: Belen Garcia, Nerea Marti and Russian Irina Sidorkova, who is also competing on home soil in the SMP Formula 4.
The three young drivers have made headlines earlier this week as they have been selected among the 14 candidates for a race seat in the 2020 W-Series championship and were thus under the spotlight at Jerez.
Belen Garcia showed great performances in Race 1 on Saturday, completing an aggresive race and crossing the finish line in a convincing eighth place despite a difficult qualifying session. She brought home one more point in the general standings and consolidated her leadership in the Women's trophy.
"The day started very badly, I found rain in the qualifying and for this I was behind." - explained Garcia. "I had to refit during the race, I had good rhythm. I did some overtaking which allowed me to gain positions. I've finished eight, one very important point, I'm so happy." - were Belen's words after the first weekend's race.
On the other hand, it was a difficul start of the championship's fifth round for Irina Sidorkova and Nerea Marti, as the Spanish girl was forced to retire after running a solid initial half of the race.
After Saturday's misfortune, Nerea Marti redeemed herself in Sunday morning's race:
she had a brilliant start and immediately gained tenth position. She was then able to defend herself from the attacks of competitors for the entire first lap, but was forced to give up one position after a strong move by Martinez.
In the same lap, Belen Garcia passed Irina Sidorkova at the back of the field.
Axel Gnos recovered after an initial mistake, while Martinez and Marti passed Ghanem, moving up respectively to tenth and eleventh places with 11 minutes to the end of the race.
Irina Sidorkova dropped 2 seconds behind Belen Garcia, as the 16-year old Russian looked like she had struggled to find a good feeling with the circuit in this first Sunday's race.
After a race-ending mistake, Lobanenko parked his car in the gravel at Angel Nieto corner: the Russian driver consequently dropped to last with only four minutes left on the clock. In the meantime, Nerea Marti moved up one place and reached the Top-10.
The last 3 laps were defined by the fight between championship leader Franco Colapinto and Kilian Meyer for the second place.
The Argentinian driver went on full attack mode until the finish line, but Meyer was able to defend his position and ended just behind MP Motorsport's driver Glenn Van Berlo, who crossed the line to win his second race of the weekend after Saturday's victory.
Nerea Marti ended her great run in tenth place and took home the women's trophy for race 2.
Belen Garcia had an impressive race 3 start as she made up three positions and immediately kicked-off a battle with Villanueva for the seventh place. She tried to go around the outside of her rival at turn 6, but Beart overtook her in the process.
At the back of the pack Van der Helm, who had stalled on the grid and was dangerously avoided by Sidorkova, passed the young Russian and Nerea Marti.
Belen Garcia continued an aggresive race but moved down one position when Ivan Nosov pushed her on the grass in a very border-line defensive move on the main straight. Lobanenko took advantage of the fight in front of him and passed Belen at turn one, but the Spanish driver reclaimed back her 10th position soon after at turn 6.
Van der Helm recovered more positions and passed Garcia for P10 with 10 minutes to go.
Belen attacked Nosov without success, but skillfully defended from Lobanenko's copious attacks. The fight between Garcia and Nosov continued as the two contenders swapped positions in the last laps of the race.
At the back of the field, an exciting battle between Nerea Marti and Irina Sidorkova unfolded, with the Russian driver able to defend her position from most of Marti's attacks. With three laps to go, though, Irina ultimately gave up her place after a masterful move from Marti at turn six.
The Drivex School driver Franco Colapinto brought home a dominant victory, with Van Berlo and Axel Gnos completing the podium.
Garcia ended P11 and scored the second win of the weekend in the women's trophy.
UPDATE: After the race Ivan Nosov received a 5" penalty, which promoted Belen Garcia to P10 and to the point-scoring position.
As previously announced, Belen Garcia, Nerea Marti and Irina Sidorkova will be back on track as soon as tomorrow, as they will join the other W-Series candidates in Almeria for its selection tests. The three Spanish F4 young hopefuls will complete a three days testing programme and will battle for a seat on the 2020 all-female championship grid.
Ph credits: Circuito Jerez Angel Nieto