FLUXA TAKES MAIDEN WIN AS PIZZI EXTENDS F4UAE TITLE LEAD
Dubai-based Xcel Motorsport has dominated Round 4 of the F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth with three victories out of four, including a maiden win by Lorenzo Fluxa, while teammate Francesco Pizzi extended his championship points lead with just one round remaining in 2020.
Fifteen-year-old Fluxa’s win in Race 1 was his first career victory out of karting, and his sixth podium to date in 2020. He went on to claim another podium in Race 3 and completed every race over the weekend inside the top five.
While Pizzi – who has scored six race wins prior to the weekend – took victory in Races 2 and 3, and now leads the title chase by 49 points heading into the final round which will be held again at the Dubai Autodrome from March 6-7.
“It’s always nice to win, especially when it’s a first in a single-seater and I hope it’s a first of many,” said Fluxa. “Pulling up near the podium and seeing my dad so emotional and happy, and my mum is also here this weekend, it was quite a moment for me.
“Although I wanted to overtake Nico [Göhler] in the race and I knew I had the pace to, the team told me it wasn’t necessary because he got a penalty for a jump start so he would finish behind me at the end of the race anyway. I’ve had the pace for the whole championship but I feel much more confident now that I’ve already won a race and feel like I can go for more. F4UAE has been a very good pre-season campaign, and I think it’s helped me a lot to get ready for racing in Europe this year.”
BWT Mücke Motorsport’s Nico Göhler took the final race victory on Saturday afternoon, and sits second in the outright championship points. Xcel Motorsport – the reigning drivers, rookie and teams champions – are on track for another potential hat-trick of titles thanks to Pizzi’s success, leading all three points ladders with just four races remaining in 2020.
Pizzi (#51) is one of six drivers to have tasted victory this season, and the only driver other than Göhler (#2) to win multiple races. Other drivers who’ve won a single race each include Fluxa (#7), the UAE’s Hamda Al Qubaisi (#88), Italian Nicola Marinangeli (#14) and Mexican racer Erick Zuniga (#23); all of which fill the top six places in the championship fight respectively.
Twelve drivers contested Round 4 of the F4UAE Championship, with the only change from last round being the return of Constantin Reisch (#52) for 3y Technology, in place of Isack Hadjar.
After dominating the first three rounds in qualifying, Hamda Al Qubaisi was unable to claim a fourth pole position, with the accolade going to Pizzi for the first time this season; a maiden pole position for him in single seaters. Pizzi put in a time of 1m38.404s which was the fastest of the weekend.
Fluxa qualified in second place just 0.101 seconds behind Pizzi, giving Xcel Motorsport their first 1-2 qualification result in 2020. Al Qubaisi managed third fastest.
Prior to the race starting, a three-place grid penalty was given to both Al Qubaisi and Reema Juffali (#18), which were carried over from hearings concerning racing incidents at Round 3.
Pizzi stalled on the start and Göhler jumped to the front ahead a Fluxa; a move that was deemed by stewards during the race to be a jump start. The German and Mallorcan racers battled within half a second of each other on track, but final results reflected Fluxa’s victory after a five-second penalty was applied to Göhler. His BWT Mücke Motorsport teammate Zuniga was also given the same penalty. Al Qubaisi finished third.
While regular race weekends see only one 30-minute race on Fridays, Round 4 saw two races scheduled, with the second being the reversed-grid just prior to sunset. BWT Mücke Motorsport’s Josef Knopp (#4) stalled on the startline, and while drivers scrambled to avoid the Czech racer it was his teammate Göhler who was unable to find enough room around. With broken suspension in the collision, the #2 racer pulled to the side of the front straight and returned to pitlane while safety car was called to retrieve the race car. Knopp circulated around once and retired to pitlane.
On the restart, Pizzi lead the field and extended his margin over his rivals, eventually finishing ahead of teammate Nicola Marinangeli in second and Al Qubaisi in third again.
Saturday morning’s Race 3 would be an important one for the title chase, with Göhler and Marinangeli both tied on equal points for second place outright behind Pizzi on the points ladder.
Al Qubaisi got the better start, but on lap two was overtaken by Pizzi and later by Fluxa; moving her back to third where she finished at race's end. Marinangeli’s stall on the start gave the points advantage to Göhler who finished the race in fourth place. The lacklustre result for Marinangeli meant that the Italian moved from equal second on points to fifth outright.
In the final reverse-grid race, it was Xcel Motorsport’s Zdenek Chovanec (#6) who started from pole with Knopp alongside in P2. Needing to watch their mirrors, the more experienced Göhler and Al Qubaisi started behind on row two.
Göhler – known for his quick starts – took the lead into turn one and never yielded, closely followed by the Emirati youngster. A safety car was called on lap one when Juffali collided with Constantin Reisch (#4), ending both of their races and giving the Saudi a three-place grid penalty to be applied next round for causing an avoidable collision.
Having started in ninth, Marinangeli made up six places at the chequered flag to finish behind Al Qubaisi in second and Göhler in first; the win being his third race victory of 2020. Al Qubaisi took her ninth podium in the last 10 races, and was the only driver to finish all four races on the podium.
After 15 races contested in four rounds, Francesco Pizzi leads the drivers and rookie championship standings by 49 points over Nico Göhler in second, while Lorenzo Fluxa’s race victory assisted his move up the ladder to third outright with one round to go. Xcel Motorsport continues to dominate the teams standings.
Round 5 of the F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth, the grand finale of the 2020 season, will return to the Dubai Autodrome from March 6-7, 2020 with free entry for all.