March 11, 2024 | News

Barcelona FWS: Peebles doubles up to claim title

Griffin Peebles clinched the 2024 Formula Winter Series in the most emphatic fashion with a double victory at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Sunday.

The Australian came into the weekend with a slender five-point lead over Peruvian Andres Cárdenas. After the opening race on Saturday was abandoned because of heavy rain, MP Motorsport’s Peebles negotiated a pair of safety car-strewn rounds on Sunday to claim his first title, 21 points clear of second race runner-up Cárdenas.

Race 1

Torrential rain on Saturday forced what was supposed to be the first race to be abandoned after a couple of laps behind the safety car, so Race 2 on a thankfully bright and sunny Sunday morning became Race 1.

Peebles made the most of his pole position to lead into the first turn. But the inevitable mid-pack collision soon played out, Ella Lloyd and Edouard Borgna finding themselves beached in the Turn 2 gravel. Lorenzo Castillo also required recovery further around the lap at Turn 4, while René Lammers escaped from a moment at the next corner as the safety car was called upon.

Racing resumed on lap five with Peebles heading championship rival Cárdenas from Gianmarco Pradel, who had risen from seventh on the grid. But Pradel lost a podium finish when he skated into the gravel at Turn 1 at the start of lap 11 to once again trigger a safety car interruption.

The track was cleared quickly for racing to resume with less than four minutes of the 30 on the clock, with Peebles once again keeping clear of Cárdenas. The following lap the deal was sealed for Peebles when Douwe Dedecker made contact with Matheus Ferreira to leave the latter in the Turn 2 gravel, meaning a third appearance for the safety car as time ran out on the race. That ensured an expanded 15-point advantage for Peebles over Cárdenas ahead of the final race of the season.

“I got a perfect start, built a small gap and didn’t need to defend,” said Peebles. “I just focused on doing smooth lines and preserving the tyres because this track has very high degradation. We had so many safety cars, the first was really long and we had one just before the end, then luckily it finished under another. I’m really happy with the result, good points for the championship, but it’s still going down to the last race.”

Ernesto Rivera picked up the final podium place for a Campos two-three, with MP Motorsport’s Maciej Gladysz consolidating his third place in the championship in fourth. Reno Francot (US Racing) and Lucas Fluxa (MP) completed the top six.

Race 2

Campos driver Nathan Tye started the final race of the season from pole position, but Peebles beside him got the drop to lead into Turn 1 and put himself in the ideal position to secure his title, in a race once again peppered by safety car interruptions.

The field at least made it to the third lap before the first pause in the action, as a couple of cars including Jenzer’s Borgna found the gravel again. Peebles, leading Nye, Cárdenas and Olivieri Flavio who would be penalised for a jumped start, successfully negotiated the restart on lap seven, but almost immediately faced the familiar sight of the Nissan safety car’s rear bumper when Matheus Ferreira was knocked into the wall out of Turn 5 by Jan Przyrowski.

There was just six minutes left when Peebles again kept clear of Cárdenas into Turn 1 – only for the race to once again be neturalised as Jenzer’s Arthur Dorison became beached at the first corner. That left a two-lap shootout, with Peebles keeping his cool at the restart to finally complete the job.

“It was a tricky last race because again we had three safety cars and I had to do something different on the restarts,” said Peebles, who will now turn his attention to the Spanish F4 championship. “The initial start wasn’t that good, but I got Tye into the first corner and we were three wide and from there I tried to manage the gap and the safety car restarts. The team gave me an amazing car, I was quick all weekend in the dry and I’m so happy to bring it home. I can finally relax and celebrate.”

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