Theophile Nael won the second Spanish Formula 4 race at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit but missed a chance to seal the title early after a stall in race three.
MP Motorsport’s Valerio Rinicella had pole for race two, the first of the day, but a slow start meant he was immediately passed off the line by Sainteloc Racing’s Nael. There was almost a three-wide fight for third place later in the lap, and further back there were several spinners.
The safety car came out at the end of lap five due to Flavio Olivieri beaching his car in the gravel and Noah Stromsted having a scary crash that sent him upside down into the barriers.
Racing resumed on lap nine but only briefly as Lorenzo Castillo and Maxi Restrepo crashed out and the safety car was summoned again.
The next restart occurred with two laps left of the race to go, and the lead pack held position. Nael pulled away by 0.744 seconds to win ahead of Rinicella, with Matteo de Palo winning the fight with Enzo Deligny and Christian Ho to finish third.
Alex Ninovic has briefly been fifth but finished sixth, with Noah Lisle dropping to ninth after challenging Ninovic at one point, then 11th after a track limits penalty.
Nael had claimed pole for race three and had the chance to secure the championship ahead of the final round if he could maintain his 76-point lead. However, his car appeared to stall after his initial launch, and he ended the first lap down in 12th place.
Ho took the lead in front of De Palo, with Ninovic up to third from seventh. Rinicella went the other way, from third down to sixth, after having to drive around Nael’s car.
The safety car was deployed around halfway through because Olivieri’s car needed retrieving from the gravel again.
At the restart, Rinicella tried to go side-by-side with Stromsted for fifth place but found himself pushed into the gravel and lost a place to Andres Cardenas.
That happened just before the safety car was called on again after Eric Gene found the gravel, and the subsequent restart would not last long either. With Restrepo beached and less than a minute left on the clock, the race was red-flagged.
Nael had by now found his way up to ninth place, but he was one of many drivers to get a two-second penalty for exceeding track limits, which demoted him to 11th and out of the points.
With his victory ahead of de Palo in a Campos one-two plus the fastest lap, Ho is promoted to second in the championship, 62 points behind Nael.
Carlin driver Ninovic took his maiden podium in third ahead of Deligny, who remains in title contention in third overall. After finishing seventh, Rinicella is now fourth in the points, 70 away from Nael.
Race 2 (14 laps)
1 Theophile Nael Sainteloc Racing 24m54.377s
2 Valerio Rinicella MP Motorsport +0.744s
3 Matteo de Palo Campos Racing +2.133s
4 Enzo Deligny Campos Racing +2.510s
5 Alex Ninovic Carlin +3.089s
6 Christian Ho Campos Racing +3.629s
7 Keanu Al Azhari MP Motorsport +3.915s
8 Andres Cardenas Campos Racing +4.289s
9 Pedro Clerot MP Motorsport +5.089s
10 Ricardo Gracia Monlau Motorsport +5.442s
Fastest lap: Nael, 1m33.386s
Race 3 (15 laps)
1 Ho 25m54.987s
2 de Palo +0.568s
3 Ninovic +1.489s
4 Deligny +2.585s
5 Noah Stromsted Campos Racing +2.829s
6 Cardenas +3.277s
7 Rinicella +3.845s
8 Al Azhari +4.341s
9 Hiyu Yamakoshi Tecnicar +5.952s
10 Alexander Abkhazava Drivex +6.483s
FL: Ho, 1m33.342s
1 Nael 281 2 Ho 216 3 Deligny 213 4 Rinicella 211 5 De Palo 145 6 Clerot 141 7 Stromsted 113 8 Cardenas 105 9 Al Azhari 91 10 Ninovic 50