Motorsport Games: Belen Garcia show for team Spain in F4 main race
Updated: Nov 4, 2019
Spanish lady Belen Garcia author of a phenomenal performance in the F4 Cup event on first edition of the FIA Motorsport Games.
The Formula 4 category was one of the main events of the brand-new FIA Motorsport Games held in Vallelunga, Rome.
Every partecipanting Country selected one driver to represent their national teams and the honour for Team Spain went to young lady Belen Garcia.
The 20 year-old Spanish driver is undoubtedly one of the most interesting names in European motorsport: she was selected by her national motorsport authority after a very positive 2019 season in the Spanish F4 championship, as she was the first woman to win a race in the category and currently leads the Female Trophy standings with one round to go. She will also be among the new selected drivers on the 2020 W-Series grid.
The racing action on the closest racetrack to the Italian capital started on Friday, with the two free practice sessions. The Spanish representative had a very encouraging FP1, despite having no prior experience of the difficult Vallelunga track: Garcia ran for most of the first session in eighth and ultimately finished in 11th place, showing promising speed.
"The objective was to get used to the car and to get to know the track, and it was not bad actually!" - said Belen after a positive first session.
The second Friday's practice was defined by red flags that didn't allow Belen Garcia to complete many laps, as the Spanish driver was relegated to the fourteenth position.
"FP2 started badly, I had some mechanical problems that made me stay in the pits for the first laps, the laps on fully dry track, and then there were a couple of red flags so I didn't get the chance to do many laps. Tomorrow we'll be stronger!"
On Saturday morning, adverse weather conditions forced the drivers to compete on a very wet and challenging track during qualifying. Once again, red flags were the session's main catalysts.
At the end of the 25-minutes session, four red flags were waved, three of them caused by Hong Kong driver Hugo Hung.
Belen Garcia ran into top-ten positions for most of the session, but was hit by bad luck by the timing of the second red flag, as she had signed personal best sectors.
With no further chances to complete significant laps due the traffic after the green flag, Garcia finished in P12.
As the 22 cars were back on track for the afternoon Qualifying race, the rain started to fall again during the formation lap.
Belen started from the sixth row and lost two positions at the start, while Italian Andrea Rosso took the leadership followed by German Niklas Krutten and Israeli Ido Cohen. The Safety Car was immediately called out when Japan's Kazuto Kotaka went into the barriers on first lap.
After the restart, the race was characterized by a stunning battle for the lead between Andrea Rosso, Niklas Krutten and Ido Cohen, with the Italian making the decisive move on Krutten with one minute to go. The home driver thus won the Qualifying race in front his crowd.
Belen Garcia finished in 12th position and, despite being stuck in the midfield, she was among the fastest drivers in the second half of the race.
"P12 for tomorrow's Final Race. Happy about the pace in Qualifying Race, not that happy for the result. Still, feeling ready for the race tomorrow. Expecting rain!" - wrote Belen after the first race.
In fact, Sunday's final day started with a prolonged interruption during the GT Cup event due to the heavy rainfall. When the lights finally went out for the F4 Final Race, Garcia started her personal show in front the worldwide audience.
On the 5th lap, she put under pressure Hungarian Laszlo Toth, passed his rival with an impressive move and immeditaly closed the little gap to Denmark's Malthe Jakobsen and Ireland's Lucca Allen.
A few corners later, the Spanish lady repeatedly swapped positions with Jakobsen, and Belen ultimately won the battle for P10. She then opened up a gap from the following competitors. In the meantime, Andrea Rosso led the field with a 1-second advantage over Ido Cohen.
On lap 7, Garcia kept the momentum going and quickly closed in on Lucca Allen: she overtook him for P9 and immediately switched her next target to Nicolas Baert, a solid eighth up until that point.
A couple of laps were indeed enough for Belen Garcia to close the gap with Baert and move past him, advancing to P8, as the Spanish driver continued her extraordinary charge. One attack later, and she was already past Brazilian Joao Rosate for P7, the following lap.
Ido Cohen tried to defend the race leadership from the huge pressure of home hero Andrea Rosso, with the Italian able to take the first place on lap 10, after the Israeli made a small mistake at the final corner exit.
With 7 minutes to go, Nicolas Baert hit the wall and caused the intervention of the Safety Car. The Final F4 Motorsport Games event restarted with 3 minutes left on the clock for the final crazy laps.
Belen Garcia and Frenchman Reshad Degerus battled for sixth at the restart, with the Team Japan driver Kazuto Kotake taking advantage from the battle ahead of him to pass Garcia, as the young lady temporarily went down to P8. But the Garcia's show wasn't over.
In the hectic last few laps, the Spain representative reclaimed two more positions, overtaking Ido Cohen and Hugo Hung, as the Israeli front-runner had a nightmarish restart. She finished an impressive race in P6.
Italian Andrea Rosso won the gold medal on home soil, followed by German Niklas Kruetten and Finnish William Alatalo.
MVP of the race was undoubtedly Belen Garcia, author of a stunning comeback from twelfth on the grid in a tight track such as Vallelunga, where passing is historically difficult.
The young lady performances certainly made all the Spanish fans proud, after a successful edition of the 2019 FIA Motorsport Games.
"Enjoyed it all so much, so happy about the final result and feeling with the car." - said Garcia after the race through her social media profiles.
"Had great pace and some nice battles on mixed conditions. Thank you to everyone who cheered for me, and to the Spanish Federation and CSD for making it possible. Back home for some rest and to prepare the last race of the F4 Spanish Championship at home."
In Belen's words:
"What a race! P6 from P12. Enjoyed it all so much, so happy about the final result and feeling with the car."
Ph credits: SRO / FIA Motorsport Games