Marta García wins again, extends championship lead to 48 points
Marta Garcia’s outstanding weekend at Paul Ricard resulted in two wins that represent a massive leap towards her championship ambitions, as the Spaniard now enjoys a 48 points lead after F1 Academy's last European round.
Marta García had a superb day at Paul Ricard, claiming two wins out of three and making a big step towards her championship goal.
García was starting fourth in race 3, as Léna Bühler had claimed pole position on Saturday, edging Abbi Pulling and a highly impressive Lola Lovinfosse.
At lights out, Bühler had a good start and covered the inside, but it would be Marta Garcia to get the best getaway: from fourth, the race winner of race 2 took the inside line and overtook both Pulling and Lovinfosse, who were battling side by side entering turn 1.
Lovinfosse ended up taking third, as Pulling dropped to fourth after the first lap. Grant stalled on the grid but got back underway quickly; Edgar, Bustamante, Amna Al QUbaisi and Maite Caceres also all gained one spot at the start.
Bühler and Garcia tried to pull away from the rest of the pack, as Nerea Marti and Hamda Al Qubaisi were also closing in on Pulling. Chloe Chong overtook De Heus and Caceres over the second lap.
In yet another vital moment for the championship, Marta Garcia found a way past Léna Bühler and took the race lead on lap 3. The Spaniard managed to open a second-margin to Bühler, but the whole pack remained compact. Marta, though, had a strong first sector and, a few laps later, the Sauber Academy driver was over 2 seconds adrift.
Positions settled, until Bianca Bustamante spun while she was trying to overtake the car ahead and dropped to the tail end of the field; Previously ninth, Bustamente’s incident promoted Amna Al Qubaisi and Megan Gilkes to points-paying positions. Chong was making progress as well and chased Gilkes for points.
On lap 9, Amna Al Qubaisi made a move stick at turn 1 on Schreiner, clinching eighth place.
Meanwhile, García had checked out in front, gaining a couple of tenths per lap. Despite a small mistake in one lap, Marta continued to extend her gap and after 18 laps, she crossed the finish line to take her second win of the day. The result is a massive leap towards the title, as she now extended her lead to 48 points. With 67 points still on the table at COTA, still three drivers remain mathematically in contention, but the Paul Ricard round was a huge step.
Bühler was second, on the podium for the eleventh time this year. The Swiss racer has now overtaken Hamda Al Qubaisi in the championship standings and is Marta Garcia’s closest pursuer coming into COTA.
With yet another superb performance, Lola Lovinfosse was third – in her second podium of the day. Lovinfosse held off the attacks of Abbi Pulling throughout the race and, with 30 points scored today, she moves up to tenth in the drivers’ standings.
Fourth across the line, Abbi Pulling was later disqualified for a technical infringement – which means that the British driver drops behind Nerea Martí. Nerea in fact was fourth in race 3 following her race win in the morning.
On a track where the MP Motorsport team struggled for the optimal setup compared to other teams, Hamda Al Qubaisi did everything in her power and finished fifth.
Jessica Edgar had a strong weekend and, after a good start, she fought in the midfield, eventually finishing sixth. She preceded Amna Al Qubaisi – who was the biggest mover of the race, climbing five spots on a track layout that offered minimal passing opportunities.
Carrie Schreiner defended hard and brought home a good amount of points with eighth place, ahead of a solid Megan Gilkes and Chloe Chong, who made up one position to finish in the points.
Maite Caceres narrowly missed out on points in a highly positive weekend for the Uruguayan, who ended ahead of Emely de Heus, Chloe Grant and Bianca Bustamante.
The championship now goes into summer break, as F1 Academy is set to join for the first time the F1 supporting bill at the next US Grand Prix at COTA, Austin, on 21-22 October.