FIRST-TIME RACE WINNERS CLAIM HONOURS IN EXTRAORDINARY TURN OF EVENTS AT F4UAE IN DUBAI
First-time open-wheeler race winners dominated Round 3 of the FIA F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth at Dubai Autodrome this past weekend (February 4-6) with Prema Racing's Rafael Camara and Charlie Wurz, and Hitech GP's Alex Dunne all sharing the spoils during the four-race weekend.
Both Wurz from Austria and Camara from Brazil topped one qualifying session each on Saturday morning to claim pole position for Races 1 and 3 respectively, with the former also clocking the best second-fastest lap time in Q1 to earn a P1 start for Race 2.
Both battled for honours in Race 1, with the Brazilian being the ultimate victor in the first 25-minute race, while Wurz converted a pole position to a lights-to-flag win in Race 2 on Sunday morning. Camara took a second victory for Prema Racing that afternoon while Dunne from Ireland claimed a well-deserved maiden single-seater win in a red-flag marred race.
Other drivers to stand on the podium across the weekend included PHM Racing's Nikita Bedrin (#15) with two podium finishes, Prema Racing's Aiden Neate (#57) with three and Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema's Andrea Kimi Antonelli (#99) with one.
While the first three races were marred with various racing incidents, safety cars and standard racing penalties, it was the final race on Sunday afternoon that was the talking point with Dunne the only driver not to be penalised.
The 25-minute partially reversed-grid race started with 3Y by R-ace GP’s Martinius Stenshorne (#46) storming to the lead from fourth on the grid with Dunne close behind in second, while a collision on lap three involving Vladislav Ryabov (#26), Victoria Blokhina (#46) and Anshul Gandhi (#33) brought out a red flag.
While Dunne stopped on the grid as per the regulations under red flag conditions, Antonelli in second took to the pitlane and the rest of the field followed behind him; ultimately post-race those drivers were all summoned to the stewards for a breach of regulations and accordingly given a 5-second penalty.
After a lengthy delay to reorder the cars in pitlane, the race resumed with less than 20 minutes on the clock and two laps completed behind the safety car. On the restart, Dunne initially was able to keep Antonelli at bay but the Round 1 race winner passed with around 10 minutes remaining.
While the Italian crossed the finish line first ahead of Dunne, he was unable to clear a gap on track to null the impending penalty, coming up short by 1.3 seconds. The Irish driver took the race victory - his first in open-wheelers - while Aiden Neate filled the podium behind his Prema teammate.
Heading into Round 4, Neate leads the championship points over Wurz and Antonelli. Round 2 race winner James Wharton leads the rookie standings.
"Irrespective of the various incidents and our very unique Race 4, it's very encouraging to see new faces in the winners' circle and congratulations to Rafael, Charlie and Alex for claiming their first victories in single-seaters," said category promoter Craig Thompson. "We're past the halfway mark of the season, with the championship still very wide open, so if the last three rounds are anything to go by it will be an extremely exciting title fight to watch."
The 2022 F4UAE Championship stays at Dubai Autodrome for Round 4 next week (February 11-13), followed by the grand finale at Yas Marina Circuit the weekend after (February 18-20); both as a support to the Asian Le Mans Series and Formula Regional Asian Championship.
Download full results here.