F4UAE SEASON OPENER SEES SOLID 14-DRIVER GRID DEBUT IN DUBAI
The fifth season of the FIA F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth starts this weekend at the Dubai Autodrome, with 14 drivers from 11 countries making up the starting grid for Round 1, with a large group of rookies among them.
Ten drivers will be stepping up from karting to open-wheelers at the season opener – a support event to the famed Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai – with many coming from illustrious international karting backgrounds.
The 2020 WSK Super Master Series champion Nikita Bedrin (#15) from Russia will make his debut with Xcel Motorsport, along with six other rookie drivers for the reigning F4UAE champion team including Spain’s Pepe Marti (#13), Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak (#14) from Thailand, Dutch karter Dilano Van’t Hoff (#17), Oleksandr Partyshev (#23) from the Ukraine, and UAE-based Jamie Day (#24).
They join experienced racers Kirill Smal from Russia (#07) who’s competed in the German and Italian F4 series, plus Peruvian Matias Zagazeta (#08) who contested British F4 last year as a rookie. Xcel Motorsport running eight drivers in 2021 makes for the largest ever single team in the category’s history.
CRAM Durango will run Italy’s Enzo Trulli (#34) and America’s Enzo Scionti (#29) as their rookie lineup, while German front-runners Mücke Motorsport are supporting Germany’s Jonas Ried on debut alongside Italy’s Francesco Braschi who competed in a few Italian F4 rounds last year.
Representing the GCC, KSA’s Saud Al Saud will line up for 3Y Technology for his open-wheeler debut. While the UAE’s Hamda Al Qubaisi (#88) returns to F4UAE with local team Abu Dhabi Racing, supported by Prema - the team she races for in the Italian F4 championship - after finishing fourth outright last season with three race wins.
READ HERE for more information on all of the F4UAE drivers.
Van’t Hoff and Inthraphuvasak were stars in pre-season testing this past month in Dubai, with both sharing times atop the testing sessions ahead of their rivals. Van’t Hoff has been quickest all this week, including fastest in Sunday’s private test day as well as Tuesday’s three-hour test session. A fastest time of 1m59.461s was clocked yesterday, which is also the fastest he has been prior to Round 1 at the Dubai Autodrome test days.
Last month, the championship announced a revamped calendar for 2021 with five back-to-back events now to be run over five weeks, instead of within the traditional two-month window. Due to the UAE’s current movement regulations between the Dubai and Abu Dhabi emirates because of the Covid-19 pandemic, F4UAE begins this weekend at the Dubai Autodrome and will race until the finale on February 13, 2021. Three rounds are held at Dubai Autodrome with the remaining two in Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit.
Round 1 of the F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth starts on Thursday January 14 with free practice, two qualifying sessions and two 20-minute races, ahead of the final two races on Friday January 15. All races will be live streamed on the official F4UAE YouTube channel.
Craig Thompson, F4UAE Technical Delegate: “We’re very impressed with the pedigree of drivers we have in 2021, and it’s additionally exciting to have a solid grid after such a challenging year for sport. We’ve been working very closely all year with our partners and local government authorities to ensure we can provide the best F4UAE Championship possible within the various travel limitations due to the pandemic. Having five events back-to-back has never been done before here in the UAE but we’re looking forward to giving our teams and drivers a full championship season that will put them in good stead for their future steps in motorsport.”
Dilano Van’t Hoff, Xcel Motorsport (#17): “Heading into the practice sessions I was expecting a top-five result but to my surprise I seemed to adapt to the track very well and topped the standings in the first practice. Looks like I’m really starting to get used to the car and I think I can have a great debut this week in the F4UAE championship.”
Paul Hardy, Xcel Motorsport Team Manager: "We’ve known and watched Dilano for many years in karting now, so we know that he is more than capable of winning races. We are looking forward to working with and developing Dilano as he makes the move into F4 cars. It is great that F4UAE is really starting to take off and become an excellent winter series for drivers wanting to prepare themselves to the fullest ahead of their European campaigns.”