Mon, 20 October 2014
Welsh racer Alex Morgan continued his European Clio Championship campaign last weekend at Jerez in Spain for the season finale. Having finished on the podium in both races a week earlier in the British Clio Championship at Brands Hatch, Morgan was looking to carry his form into the European series. For Morgan it was a new challenge as it was his first visit to the former Formula 1 circuit and the intense heat was sure to make it a physical strain. Nevertheless Morgan started free practice full of confidence and wasted no time in getting up to speed. In the first session he ended up in p6 and only 0.8 seconds shy of the fastest time, despite being forced to sit out half of the session with an electrical gearbox issue. Morgan built on the experience however in the second session and managed to close the gap to 0.5 seconds of the fastest time. For qualifying it was business as usual and Morgan pushed early on to sit provisionally p2. As the session continued, however, a brake issue got progressively worse and Morgan was unable to go quicker leaving him with a 4th place grid slot for race 1. After making a slightly worse start than his competitors, Morgan had to fight his way back into the top 4 and made a great move on Italian racer Massimiliano Pedala on the first lap at turn 8. As the race progressed, it was looking like a 4 car battle for the win was set to unfold until a safety car period interrupted the race. On the restart Morgan and the three cars in front edged out a gap to the chasing pack but the positions remained the same to the flag. The 4th place result all but guaranteed Morgan with a 5th place finish in the Championship but he was eager to make the last race one to remember. The second qualifying session got underway on Sunday morning but, due to a different run plan and two unfortunate red flags when on hot laps, Morgan was only able to secure a 6th place starting position for the race. Disappointed with the outcome, Morgan knew it would be a tough race. With an aggressive since first lap, he muscled his way past Facundo Della Motta into turn 1 and attacked Massimiliano Pedala at turn 8. The Italian driver held Morgan off however and as the race progressed, Morgan was left just off the top 4 drivers crossing the line in p5, just 3 seconds adrift of the next car and 12 seconds clear of the chasing pack. Speaking about the weekend Morgan said:
It was fantastic to end the season at such an amazing track. It was my first time here which made it difficult and the few technical gremlins in Friday's testing cost me valuable track time. I was pleased with the races though and to finish p5 in the championship and be the highest placed British driver is fantastic. I have been unlucky at times during the season and a top 3 finish would certainly have been on the cards with a bit of luck. I will be working hard to sort next year's plans out now and I am excited about the options available.