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Marta García takes crucial win in Paul Ricard race 2

F1 Academy's championship leader Marta García has taken a crucial step in the title hunt by winning the Paul Ricard second race from third on the grid, extending her gap to 40 points.

Photo credits: Racers - Behind the Helmet

Marta García has taken a crucial step in her championship hunt as she claimed victory from third on the grid in F1 Academy’s second race of the weekend at Le Castellet, in an action-packed reverse grid race.

Amna Al Qubaisi had secured her fourth pole position for the shorter race 2 out of six rounds on Saturday, when the Emirati finished eighth fastest in Q1. Al Qubaisi already has two race wins under her belt and was looking strong for a repeat on a track where it’s not so easy to overtake one , but an early safety car allowed the pack to regroup.

Before the start of the race, Chloe Chong stalled on the grid before the formation lap and the British/Canadian racer therefore had to start from the pitlane.

The lights went out for the second time of the weekend and Amna Al Qubaisi had a great launch off the line, taking the early lead while Schreiner and García battled for second place. Schreiner ended up losing two places, with Garcia and Bühler getting past on the first lap – the latter having passed Hamda Al Qubaisi at turn 1.

Maite Caceres had another strong start, gaining two places, as the recovering Bustamante was already up to tenth.

The first safety car of the weekend was deployed when Lola Lovinfosse had to retire in the final sector due to a technical issue.

The race went back underway on lap 3; Marta García had a brilliant restart and attacked Amna Al Qubaisi at Turn 1, making a move stick for the lead. Garcia had more pace and tried to pull away, as Amna Al Qubaisi was also caught and eventually passed by Léna Buhler on lap 5.

While Bustamante had lost two places at the restart – to Grant and de Heus – the charging Filipina was able to recover one position to the Scottish ART driver over the following lap. It was a difficult restart for Carrie Schreiner as well, as the German, starting from second, fell to fifth once Hamda Al Qubaisi found a way through and then chased her sister Amna.

Schreiner – whose car was losing fluid – would also slip behind Nerea Marti, who made a pass for the top five on lap 8. Jessica Edgar was moving up the order as well: the Rodin Carlin racer passed Caceres, in a big train of cars battling from fifth all the way down to the tail end of the pack.

In clean air, Marta García had no rivals and extended her gap to over three seconds.

Bühler tried to keep up, but the Spaniard took the chequered flag after a lonely getaway and claiming her fifth win of the season.

Bühler’s second place – the tenth of the season – resulted in the Swiss driver dramatically closing in on Hamda Al Qubaisi in the championship standings: the two are now separated by only two points.

Third across the line was Amna Al Qubaisi, returning to the rostrum for the fourth time. Amna preceded her sister Hamda, who once had cleared Schreiner was quick to catch her teammate and sister. Race 1 winner Nerea Marti was fifth, gaining two spots from the starting order.

Schreiner salvaged a sixth place that still gained the ART GP racer three points, and could hold on to the attacks of Abbi Pulling and Jessica Edgar.

Just outside the points, Emely de Heus had a recovering drive after an unfortunate race 1, and Bianca Bustamante was tenth.

Chloe Grant made a last minute pass on Maite Caceres, as the latter dropped down to P12 after a highly positive first race. Mean Gilkes and Chloe Chong rounded out the field, with Lovinfosse the only DNF.

Marta García’s victory is a huge step for the Spaniard championship-wise, as the Prema driver now enjoys a 40 point – having also claimed the extra point for the fastest lap – to Hamda Al Qubaisi. Bühler is on a mission and will start from pole position in race 3, ahead of Abbi Pulling and Lola Lovinfosse. Marta García will line up on the second row in fourth – two places ahead of Hamda Al Qubaisi.

The final European race of the season will go green at 16:15 local time.



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