There were three different winners in the opening Formula Winter Series round at Jerez this weekend.
At the track where he took the first pole, podium and victory in Spanish Formula 4 last year, Andres Cardenas topped Saturday morning’s qualifying session by 0.264 seconds over Griffin Peebles.
Peebles made a faster getaway than Cardenas to lead into the first corner in race one, but Cardenas got back ahead on lap two when he went down the inside at the hairpin.
For a while, Peebles remained close before Cardenas rapidly opened up a four-second advantage in the closing stages.
Peebles dropped into the clutches of MP Motorsport team-mate Maciej Gladysz, who had an impressive run to third on his car racing debut.
Several drivers didn’t make it out of the pits in time to start from their grid positions, including Ernesto Rivera and James Egozi who were late additions to the Campos line-up and qualified fourth and sixth respectively. Another Campos driver, Pacome Weisenburger, pulled up late to his grid position of eighth and then got away slowly when the race began.
US Racing trio Matheus Ferreira, Akshay Bohra and Gianmarco Pradel had no such issues and completed the top six at the finish. Two more MP-run debutants Mattia Colnaghi and Lucas Fluxa finished in the top nine, sandwiching Drivex School’s Danish F4 champion Mikkel Pedersen.
Rene Lammers, another of MP’s debutants, qualified 30th but worked his way up to 13th.
Peebles’ second-best lap from Q1 earned him pole for race two on Sunday, ahead of Gladysz, Cardenas, Egozi and Ferreira. Before that race took place, there was a second qualifying session in which Juan Cota claimed pole for race three by 0.137s over Ferreira.
Wet weather led to two installation laps taking place for race two, then a confusing start as Lorenzo Castillo could not get into his grid slot. Drivers weaved through the opening lap to warm up their tyres then lined up on the grid again and the clock was reset. But Castillo once again was not in position on the grid, and another confusing start followed as the starting lights turned on but did not go out at the usual interval and several drivers set off. Once the lights did go out the race clock was reset again, but this time taking four minutes off as the lap was converted into another formation lap.
Eventually the race got underway for real and Peebles led the field into turn one on a slippy track. Cardenas had to get defensive against Gladysz on lap two, and was passed at the final corner on lap three.
The safety car was summoned on lap four due to Filippo Fiorentino crashing out, while Pradel – who should have started eighth – joined the race several laps late but then headed back into the pits to retire.
Racing resumed on lap seven and Ferreira tried passing Cardenas but almost went off as the rain worsened. The top two pulled away, but when Lucas Fluxa spun off with a broken front wing the safety car was called out again on lap nine.
The next restart was on lap 12, and there were several spinners in the misty conditions. Ferreira attacked Cardenas for third on lap 13 and they made contact several times yet somehow maintained their positions.
A few corners later Egozi – who had passed a charging Pedersen for fifth – dived down the inside of Ferreira, who then slid onto the kerbs and dropped down the order. Egozi then had his own off, and secured fourth in a photo finish against Pedersen and Ferreira. Far ahead, Peebles won by 2.852s over Gladysz.
Race three started with six minutes of safety car action due to the track still being wet. When green flags waved Egozi rose from seventh to fifth ,and Gladysz climbed from ninth in two laps. Peebles meanwhile dropped from fifth to 10th and Cota broke away up front as Rivera and Cardenas pressured Ferreira for second.
Pedersen lost two spots on the rolling start but recovered ground with blistering pace. He was up to fifth with 10 minutes to go, and was closing in on the battle ahead of him. Cardenas was passed with a move at the last corner and then Rivera lost out to his team-mate the following lap.
Pedersen would eventually drive past Ferreira with an aggressive move at the last corner late in the race, but he finished a huge 7.777s behind Cota.
A late charge from Gladysz meant he topped the rookie classification ahead of Rivera, and he finished 0.031s behind Cardenas.
Race 1 (19 laps)
1 Andres Cardenas Campos Racing 33m14.960s
2 Griffin Peebles MP Motorsport +4.602s
3 Maciej Gladysz MP Motorsport +5.322s
4 Matheus Ferreira US Racing +6.557s
5 Akshay Bohra US Racing +10.340s
6 Gianmarco Pradel US Racing +10.900s
7 Mattia Colnaghi MP Motorsport +11.512s
8 Mikkel Pedersen Drivex School +14.312s
9 Lucas Fluxa MP Motorsport +16.197s
10 Juan Cota Drivex School +21.172s
Pole: Cardenas, 1m45.705s
Fastest lap: Cardenas, 1m44.230s
Race 2 (13 laps)
1 Peebles 29m57.508s
2 Gladysz +2.852s
3 Cardenas +5.087s
4 James Egozi Campos Racing +6.011s
5 Pedersen +6.113s
6 Ferreira +6.253s
7 Bohra +6.638s
8 Cota +7.366s
9 Pacome Weisenburger Campos Racing +10.047s
10 Finn Harrison Campos Racing +11.836s
P: Peebles, 1m46.057s
FL: Peebles, 1m55.550s
Race 3 (15 laps)
1 Cota 32m10.490s
2 Pedersen +7.777s
3 Ferreira +11.057s
4 Cardenas +13.816s
5 Gladysz +13.847s
6 Ernesto Rivera Campos Racing +14.092s
7 Colnaghi +14.585s
8 Egozi +16.461s
9 Peebles +21.979s
10 Bohra +22.944s
P: Cota, 1m43.317s
FL: Pedersen, 1m59.597s
1 Cardenas 55 2 Peebles 46 3 Gladysz 43 4 Ferreira 35 5 Pedersen 33 6 Cota 32 7 Bohra 17 8 Egozi 16 9 Colnaghi 12 10 Pradel 8