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Maite Cáceres secures podium, battles for the win in Formula Fara at Miami

Maite Cáceres collected another podium in her second outing in the Formula Fara at Homestead Miami, where the Uruguayan was consistently among the fastest drivers on track and battled for the win in race 1, before putting on a show in the full-reverse grid race 2 where she charged through the field to finish fourth with the fastest lap of the race.


Maite Caceres, International Motorsports, on the podium of the Formula Fara round at Miami Homestead
Photo courtesy: Maite Caceres

Uruguayan racing star Maite Cáceres claimed a podium and a fastest lap in her second participation in the Formula Fara at Homestead Miami, a preparation series to her F4 US campaign later in the year. Cáceres was consistently among the fastest drivers on track and battled for the win in race 1, before putting on a show in the full-reverse grid race 2 where she charged through the field to finish fourth from P14.


The 21-year-old racer was coming off a highly positive first outing in the series, where she stepped for the first time on the podium with a second place and then set the fastest lap in race 2. On her return to the Ligier F4 used in the series, Maite was back on pace straight away and could take the fight for the leading positions in both weekends; she made a further step forward in the second round, having been closer than ever before to a first victory in single seaters.


With the start of the F4 US season pushed forward, Cáceres focused on her Formula Fara second outing at the 3.701 km road course of the Homestead Miami Speedway, where she found a very competitive field: after a really tight qualifying, four drivers between second and fifth were separated by one tenth of a second. Cáceres clocked a 1:30.525 that placed her third on the starting grid of race 1, behind compatriot Gaston Irazu and Teddy Musella.


But it would be Cáceres' race pace to make the difference, as she immediately proved to be the driver to beat on the longer runs.

Maite had a brilliant start but couldn't quite find a gap on the inside of turn 1 and the International Motorsports driver had to slot back into third, behind Irazu and Musella. The top three pulled away, as Benitez and Jacir fought for P4. Maite then snatched second place when Musella made a mistake and went deep into turn 8, dropping all the way to the back as a result.


Maite Caceres, International Motorsports, Formula Fara round at Miami Homestead
Photo courtesy: Maite Caceres

Irazu and Cáceres quickly pulled away but saw their big lead disappear when Mokarem's car grinded to a halt in the middle of the track, bringing out the safety car with 22 minutes to go. The race was subsequently red flagged to facilitate the marshals operations.


The Uruguayan duo led the pack again at the green flag with 12 minutes to go; Cáceres wasn't quite close enough to attack Irazu at the restart, but she was back into contention for the top spot one lap later, running basically on the same lap time as her rival. Maite went side by side with 5 laps to go - but she had to desist and try again at the end of the main straight, where Irazu closed the door yet again.


Cáceres almost pulled off the move with three laps to go, but couldn't quite make it stick at the corner exit of turn 8. This intense duel for the win allowed Jacir to join the battle - and the latter ultimately capitalized with 2 laps to go, moving up to second. Cáceres, though, responded back and, clearly faster, attempted a pass around the outside of turn 8 on the final lap for the lead.


Unfortunately, the former F1 Academy driver was a bit deep under braking and Jacir fired on the inside grabbing second with a few corners to go. Irazu took victory, ahead of Jacir and Cáceres - whose third place was yet another brilliant showing of her progress, with a clear shot at a race win not far away.


"The weekend was very good and fun", Maite told us. "The first race I started in third position and I was faster than P1. A red flag complicated the pace a little because I was catching him. After the restart I was putting pressure on him on the last laps and tried to overtake him but he had good defensive maneuvers", she explained.


"In the last lap, I already had the maneuver and I did my last attempt to overtake him but went a little bit too deep in the braking and the third was already behind me and I lost the position. But we ended up on the podium."


Maite Caceres, International Motorsports, Formula Fara round at Miami Homestead
Photo courtesy: Maite Caceres

The second and final race of the weekend was another chance to showcase her racecraft, as the full-reverse grid format meant that she would line up from P14.

Cáceres survived a hectic start towards the back of the field, when a contact into turn 2 took Gerke out of contention and sent a few cars into the dirt. Maite navigated through the field despite having to take evasive action through the grass - but rejoined and made a couple of moves stick before the pace car was deployed to clear the stricken cars.


The race resumed on lap 4, with Cáceres already up to P11 - chasing the fast Teddy Musella. In just one lap, the Uruguayan moved up to ninth, as Pablo Benites took the overall lead ahead of Ashlyn Speed.


Maite's progression was relentless and she picked up two more places on lap 6, passing Pollack and Mokarem. With another clean pass, Cáceres overtook Jacir and Rodrigues - and was up into the top five just seven laps into the race.


Maite set the fastest lap of the race in 1:31.298 in her quest to catch the leading group, with Ashlyn Speed defending aggressively from Irazu and Felber. Cáceres closed the gap in one lap taking advantage from the battle ahead, which saw Speed falling to fourth. The Uruguayan sent a last second move into turn 6 and grabbed fourth with 3 laps to go, despite being ran wide.


While she was almost one full second faster than anyone ahead, Cáceres eventually ran out of time as she then had to close a 5 second gap to contest for the podium. A spirited recovery in the reverse grid still resulted in a superb fourth place with the fastest lap of the race.


"In race 2 it was already inverted grid, so I started from the 14th position and arrived 4th after I was thrown to the outside and dodged an accident in the grass at the start", she summed up. "My pace was good, that I even took the fastest lap in race 2."


With now one more podium to her name, Maite Cáceres is witnessing her efforts being rewarded and quickly closing in on a maiden victory.

"Very fun races fighting with my compatriot", she concluded, "even though I was heartbroken for losing the first place it was a good experience."



Maite Caceres, International Motorsports, Formula Fara round at Miami Homestead
Photo courtesy: Maite Caceres

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