BWT MÜCKE MOTORSPORT DUO BECOME FIRST-TIME WINNERS AT ROUND 2 OF F4UAE IN ABU DHABI
BWT Mücke Motorsport drivers Erick Zuniga and Nico Göhler have scored the German team’s first race wins in the 2020 F4UAE Championship season, stepping up the competition against reigning champions and rivals Xcel Motorsport, which also added wins to their tally at Round 2 held at Yas Marina Circuit (January 16-18).
While Xcel Motorsport dominated Round 1 last week in Dubai with three race victories, consistency and speed paid off during the races in Abu Dhabi for Zuniga and Göhler who not only scored the first wins of the season for the team, but their maiden career race wins in circuit racing, taking the victories in Races 2 and 4 respectively.
Zuniga, a 15-year-old rookie from Mexico, initially finished third in Race 2, but with penalties applied to the other podium achievers, he was declared the winner post-race. While Göhler - who raced F4UAE last season - made the most of a strong start in Race 4 to lead the race from lights out until the chequered flag to seal his first race victory in open-wheelers.
“It was a great weekend for the team, we’re proud that Erick as a rookie won because it pays off all of the winter work that we have been doing, and then also it was a well-deserved win for Nico who has come a long way since he started racing with us last year,” said BWT Mücke Motorsport team manager, Wito van Kuijeren.
“Nico has to fight a little bit harder for it now because he has the pressure of being the leader of the team, and our other less-experienced drivers are looking at his data now and comparing themselves to him. So it’s a completely different ball game when you need to be the fastest driver in the team by default because you have more experience. His starts are incredible and it’s always a proud moment when you get to witness a driver work hard to get their first race win.
“All of our drivers this event did an amazing job. As a team we were quick enough in Dubai where we had the speed but just couldn’t put it into race wins. But to do so now is a great boost for the team and I’m confident for the next round we’ll do the same back here at Yas Marina Circuit."
Round 1, held at Dubai Autodrome last week, saw Italian racer Francesco Pizzi from Xcel Motorsport win all three races and lead the championship heading into this past weekend. The rookie was the only other driver to score race wins at Round 2, taking the victories in Races 1 and 3. Twelve drivers contested the latest round of the F4UAE Championship, with BWT Mücke Motorsport’s third driver Erwin Zanotti from Italy being the only new recruit to the championship.
While championship leader Pizzi (#51) had leading pace during qualifying, it wasn't enough to stop Abu Dhabi Racing’s Hamda Al Qubaisi (#88) from scoring her second straight pole position, with a time of 2m11.436s lap; the only driver to achieve a time in the 2m11s bracket. Pizzi was second fastest with a 2m12.118s lap in comparison, 0.682s behind. Nicola Marinangeli (#14), Lorenzo Fluxa (#7) and Nico Göhler (#2) filled the top five in qualifying.
Al Qubaisi lead the field into turn one but was soon overtaken by her Xcel Motorsport rivals. Pizzi remained in the lead until the chequered flag, while the 17-year-old Emirati racer had a coming together with Fluxa which dropped the pair down the order. Fluxa was given a 10-second penalty for causing the collision, in which Al Qubaisi needed to come to the pitlane for repair work before returning to the race. Another battle ensued between Zanotti and Constantin Reisch (#52), the latter being relegated to the back of the grid for Race 2 for causing what was deemed an avoidable collision with the Mücke steerer. At the chequered flag, Pizzi took his fourth straight race victory and rookie honours, ahead of Marinangeli and Göhler.
The first of the reverse-grid races, Zuniga started on pole with Zdenek Chovanec (#6) alongside on the front row. Göhler capitalised on a strong start to take the lead on the opening lap, while Pizzi soon worked his way from sixth to second to pressure the German. Pizzi and then Marinangeli soon passed to the front and finished 1-2 for Xcel Motorsport, with Zuniga scoring third.
Penalties applied post-race saw Fluxa disqualified for causing another avoidable collision with Al Qubaisi. Pizzi was also penalised 10 seconds for gaining an advantage by exceeding track limits when he overtook Göhler for the lead, while Marinangeli was penalised 10 seconds for not taking the correct starting position after spinning on the warmup lap. The final revised results saw Zuniga promoted to race winner and highest-placed rookie - his first victory in open-wheelers - Göhler moved up to second place and Chovanec was given third place.
The third 30-minute race saw Al Qubaisi and Pizzi fill the front row; a grid that was determined by a driver's second-fastest times in qualifying. By turn one the positions were reversed, with Pizzi taking the lead and never relinquishing the chance for victory. Another incident between Zanotti and Reisch was investigated; both finishing 10th and 11th by race's end. Pizzi took his sixth race victory ahead of Al Qubaisi, and Marinangeli finished in third.
With Xcel Motorsport having dominated the season so far, Race 4 saw a turning of the tide on track with Göhler charging to the lead on the opening lap and never yielding the entire race. Pizzi slotted up in second, closing the gap to the leader from more than five seconds behind to a mere 1.6 seconds on the final lap when a throttle issue forced the driver to stop. A third-positioned Al Qubaisi moved into second and finished ahead of Fluxa in third; the latter also taking rookie honours in Race 4. Chovanec and Zuniga filled the top five, while Dragon Racing's Reema Juffali (#88) - who celebrated her 28th birthday on Saturday - scored a sixth-place finish, a position she scored twice across the weekend.
After seven races contested in two rounds, Franceso Pizzi still leads the drivers and rookie championship standings, with Nico Göhler moving up three places to second outright, Nicola Marinangeli sits third, Lorenzo Fluxa is fourth, and Hamda Al Qubaisi moves up to fifth. Xcel Motorsport maintains the lead of the teams standings.
Round 3 of the F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth will again be held at Yas Marina Circuit from February 13-15, 2020. For more information head to www.f4uae.com