Formula Winter Series Jerez: Cardenas, Peebles And Cota share wins

Published on Thursday, February 15, 2024

Formula Winter Series Jerez: Cardenas, Peebles And Cota share wins

Drivers from three different continents and representing three different teams shared the victories as the Formula Winter Series got underway with a triple-header at Jerez. Andres Cardenas of Peru and Campos Racing grabbed race one on Saturday. Then Griffin Peebles of Australia and MP Motorsport won race two on Sunday morning before home driver Juan Cota led a DriveX 1-2 in the final race of the weekend.

 

Race 1

With more than half of the 38-strong grid making their first starts in car racing, it wasn’t hard to find a paddock wag confident that this would be a race of anarchy and safety cars. But the youngsters disappointed the cynics, behaving immaculately to deliver a largely processional race entirely free of significant incidents.

One of the few overtaking moves was for the lead, however. Cardenas, who had lost out to Peebles at the start, produced it when he found his way past the Aussie on lap three. But with that done, the man who won at Jerez in Spanish F4 last year never looked back.

Behind him, the front of the field remained close but mostly static. Peebles led team-mate Maciej Gladysz all the way, and the Pole was followed home by the US Racing trio of Matheus Ferreira, Akshay Bohra and Gianmarco Pradel. Pradel did head Bohra until just before the halfway mark, but their positional swap on lap eight was about the only other noteworthy move at the front of the field.

The only time the FWS brigade really did show some inexperience, in fact, was on its way to the grid. With so many drivers trying to squeeze in a practice start before departing the pitlane, a few ran out of time before the pit exit closed.

Among those to get stuck at the red light – and consequently, be made to stay where they were for the race start – were the Campos pair of Ernesto Rivera and James Egozi. They had qualified fourth and sixth respectively, which left the front of the grid looking particularly sparse as the race got underway. Still, a valuable lesson was no doubt learned.

The same went for Cardenas, who admitted he had been lucky not to get caught up in the same traffic jam. “I was also waiting to do a practice start, but then I left the pitlane because of my water temperature – not because I realised the pits were closing!”

 

Race 2

The safety car did get some exercise this time around, with two appearances taking much of the time out of the half-hour race. To be fair to the inexperienced drivers, conditions were challenging. The Jerez track started out damp but then turned thoroughly wet as the race went on.

Again, though, it was procedural failings that caught the eye. Although there was an understandable absence of practice starts and nobody got stuck in the pitlane, two attempts were needed to get the race going. Each of the first two starts was aborted as Lorenzo Castillo failed to find his correct grid slot amid what might best be described as a fair amount of confusion.

At the third time of asking, however, the green light could be given. And it was relatively experienced Formula 4 racer Peebles who converted pole into the lead. Despite the pair of safety car interruptions for the beached cars of Filippo Fiorentino and Lucas Fluxa respectively, it was a lead he maintained to the end.

Despite the leaders opting for the relative safety of wet tyres, the worsening conditions helped make the race an interesting one. Cardenas jumped into second at the start but came under immediate pressure from Gladysz. He could only hold off the Pole until the third lap.

The first caution period then ate up Peebles’ early lead of almost four seconds. When the safety car came in on lap seven, Gladysz was stuck to the Aussie’s gearbox for a couple of laps, while Ferreira and Mikel Pedersen (DriveX) kept Cardenas honest. Then came the next safety car, which left only enough time for two laps of drenched racing when it left the stage on lap 12.

This time, Peebles roared into the distance once again, while Gladysz was also untroubled to the end. Ferreira ran alongside Cardenas for the first two corners after the restart, but couldn’t make the move stick. The Brazilian then ended up losing out to Egozi and Pedersen, who snatched fourth and fifth respectively.

 

Race 3

Cota’s showing in the wet Sunday afternoon race was the most dominant of the weekend as the second-season FWS racer converted pole into a seven-second victory. His cause was probably helped by Cardenas, Peebles and Gladysz qualifying fourth, fifth and ninth respectively after a frenetic qualifying session that featured a red flag.

There was plenty of action in the battle for second, however – and Ferreira was central to much of it. The first few laps saw him lead a fight for second with Rivera and Cardenas. He lost the spot to Rivera on lap eight but responded with one of the moves of the weekend, winning a battle of nerves that lasted several corners to claim it back two laps later.

Rivera and Cardenas had dropped away by the final few laps – but Ferreira had Pedersen to contend with instead at the death. The Dane, who had surged through the field after starting sixth, produced an ace move of his own when he thrust past the Brazilian at the hairpin heading onto the penultimate lap.

Peebles had struggled to get going in this race, dropping numerous places early on before finishing ninth. Gladysz, on the other hand, was able to move forward from his lowly grid slot. He ended up fifth, between Cardenas and Rivera, completing a third rookie class win out of three.

Also notable in this race was a brave marshal picking up a stray rear wing from the middle of the start/finish straight, rather than waiting for a safety car. Rightly or wrongly, that’s a rare sight these days.

As for the two noteworthy motorsport names in the field, Jan Lammer’s son René outperformed Ken Block’s daughter Lia over the weekend. But both were well down the field and neither troubled the top 10.

 

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