Morgan Rings in success in Austria
Alex Morgan made his debut appearance at the Red Bull Ring, Austria, this weekend for the fourth round of the 2015 SEAT Leon Eurocup on 4-5 July 2015. Having battled against a 31-strong field on an unfamiliar circuit, the Baporo Motorsport driver secured ninth and sixth place finishes to maintain a strong sixth in the series standings.
For Bridgend-born Alex, the weekend began by learning the challenging 4.326km track, which hosted the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix only last month. During the two 30-minute free practice sessions Alex, who is now based in Reading, lapped the circuit in his #22 SEAT Leon Cup Racer, making set-up changes after free practice one that helped him improve his lap time in the second session to 1:40.737.
Despite suffering from a technical issue which would ultimately hamper Alex in every outing on circuit, the Baporo Motorsport driver Alex managed to shave further time off his personal best lap in 32 degree heat during Saturday’s qualifying session. He managed to set a best lap time of 1:39.594 putting him 14th in the results, meaning that he would start from the seventh row of the grid for both races.
Alex made a strong start to race one, improving his position from 14th to 12th after the first lap. He jumped up another place in lap two and then drove consistently, defending 11th place from his Portuguese Baporo Motorsport team-mate, Manuel Giao. On lap eight of the 17-lap race, Alex passed JSB Competition’s Lucile Cypriano for tenth. He then maintained his position until the final lap where he was able to take advantage of a mistake by Target Competition’s Mauricio Hernández and moved up to cross the line ninth and setting the 3rd fastest time of the 31 car field.
The Austrian weather remained hot for Sunday’s second race of the weekend, with track temperatures rising to 50 degrees, making tyre management extremely important. Alex charged off the line, skilfully picking his way through the jostling field on lap one, avoiding collisions and incidents that affected a number of drivers. His dexterity moved him up from 14th to 7th after the first lap, and on lap two with further incidents occurring, Alex managed to climb to 5th place but picked up damage on his rear left corner whilst making a move at turn 9.
Alex kept position until lap nine until a gear issue enabled last season’s title challenger Stian Paulsen to close the gap and make a pass. Alex maintained his pace for the remainder of the race and managed to secure a 6th place finish ahead of Monlau Competición’s Fran Rueda, and added three points to his drivers’ standings tally. Alex said:
It’s been a tough weekend, getting to know the track and I’ve had to adapt my driving style to manage a technical issue with the car caused by the heat. I’m really pleased with the end results for my debut here at the Red Bull Ring and have enjoyed driving at this stunning circuit. It was also a great feeling to be able to compete here straight after F1 visited! The Baporo Motorsport guys once again did a great job preparing the car and we all had to work extremely hard for these results. Qualifying was a little tricky as I was still getting used to the circuit and was in damage limitation mode following a gear issue which could not be fixed on the weekend. I was however confident that I could improve my position in the races as I usually make good starts. The competition was very intense though and I couldn’t make up as many places in race 1 as I wanted. Nevertheless we persevered and made it work in race 2 to get my second top 10 finish and three crucial points. I know that we can do even better next time out in Germany as I finished on the podium at the Nurburgring last year in Eurocup Clio.
Alex’s three points from the weekend takes his total to 24 points, maintaining 6th place in the drivers’ standings with six races remaining. Following the summer break, Alex will next head to Nürburgring, Germany, for races nine and ten of the season on the famous Nurburgring GP circuit on 19-20 September 2015.