XCEL MOTORSPORT EXPANDS F4 PROGRAM TO SPANISH F4 CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2019
F4UAE Champions Xcel Motorsport will expand their open-wheeler operation to Europe this season, entering the Spanish F4 Championship for the first time with a three-car team.
Having already developped a heavy racing footprint with karting in Europe, the Dubai-based racing team will now take their F4 cars and equipment to Spain in time for the season opener in early April, running Omani frontrunner Shihab Alhabsi as lead driver for the full season.
Xcel Motorsport recently won the triple crown of titles in the 2019 F4UAE Championship, including the drivers and rookie titles with Italian Matteo Nannini, plus the teams championship. Additionally, Alhabsi also finished third outright in the drivers championship and contributed to the 10 race wins, 4 pole positions and 29 podium finishes achieved, making the 2019 season Xcel Motorsport’s most successful in three years of F4UAE competition.
“We wanted to race in Europe last year but this extra year of racing in F4UAE has proven to be very successful and definitely the extra experience we needed in running a larger operation before going to Europe,” said team manage Paul Hardy.
“It’s the right time for us now to go over, and the Spanish F4 Championship is a good introduction for us to get into the European market. Shihab has done a great job racing with us in F4UAE and to have him part of our team in Spain will be great in giving him continuity with his support team and engineers too. It’s all of those smaller things that are really important to these young racers and hopefully it will be a good year for us.
"We’re well aware of how competitive it is over there, and we’ve had three solid years of F4UAE that will hopefully be great preparation for us. Even though that’s only a short amount of time compared to some teams in Italy and Germany, the Spanish Championship suits where we are and hopefully we can help bring rookies back to the UAE next season before moving up through other F4 championships.”
With two seats available, expressions of interest are welcomed for drivers wishing to race with Xcel Motorsport in the Spanish F4 Championship. For more information please contact Paul Hardy on firstname.lastname@example.org
MATTEO NANNINI AND XCEL MOTORSPORT CROWNED F4UAE CHAMPIONS FOR 2019
Dubai, UAE, March 2, 2019 – Italian driver Matteo Nannini has taken his maiden open-wheeler and circuit racing title after winning the third season of the F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth in Dubai this weekend (March 1-2).
Coming into the final round 55 points ahead of title rival Joshua Dürksen (#27) from Mücke Motorsport, the 15-year-old from Xcel Motorsport only needed to finish the second race of the weekend on Friday to claim the title, but went on to win Race 3 on Saturday as well which was his seventh of the season and the highest tally of any drivers competing.
In the process, Nannini (#15) also sealed the Rookie Championship for his Dubai-based team, which also took honours as the Teams Champions and sealed third outright with Omani driver Shihab Alhabsi (#34). In the battle of the teams, Xcel Motorsport finished well ahead of last year’s victors, Dragon Racing, to secure a triple crown of victories. Taking all three main titles was the team's best effort in F4UAE competition since joining in 2016.
"Congratulations to Matteo and Xcel Motorsport after their strong success this year in F4UAE," said Mohamed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE, Chairman of the Emirates Motor Sport Federation and FIA Vice President for Sport. "The fight for the championship has been very competitive all year between all of the drivers who have won races, and I congratulate them for all of their success while here in the UAE. F4UAE always aims to provide the best training platform to help these young drivers become racing stars of the future and we are very happy to see them being rewarded.
"Also, congratulations to everyone at Xcel Motorsport. Kevin [Day] and his team have been very big supporters of F4UAE over the last three years and it is a wonderful achievement for them as a Dubai team to dominate all three titles after putting in so much hard work,” concluded President.
Championship runner-up Dürksen from Paraguay has been Nannini’s main rival all season, sitting second on the points leaderboard since the first round. Winning a total of five races and appearing on the podium 10 times over 20 races, the rookie racer won the final race of the championship to secure his second place standing in the rookie championship as well.
Thirteen different drivers from 11 countries competed in F4UAE this season, with five different race winners since the championship began back in January at the Dubai Autodrome.
Eleven drivers competed in the final round of F4UAE which was contested on the 3.56km National Circuit of the Dubai Autodrome. Two new drivers joined including Sauber Junior Team driver Roman Stanek for Dragon Racing (#7) and former F4UAE racer Niklas Krütten (#2) for Mücke Motorsport.
Sandstorms again swept through Dubai on Friday morning, along with light rain, to make for challenging conditions which warranted strategic qualifying planning. Krütten and Alhabsi had topped practice on Thursday, but it was Alhabsi who impressed when lap times counted, earning his first pole position with a best time of 1m23.254s; an very close 0.037 seconds head of Nannini. Dragon Racing’s Rashed Ghanem (#9) scored his best every qualifying result in third place.
In Race 1, Alhabsi lead from the start and remained so all race in front of Nannini and Ghanem. From a ninth-place start, Krütten stormed through the field to second place by race’s end however was penalised 10 seconds for taking an advantage from running off track. An incident between Lucas Roy (#8) and Dürksen saw the safety car called, with Roy able to stay with the field however not so Dürksen who only completed four laps. Nannini finished third but was promoted to second after the penalty was applied to Krütten, with Ghanem earning the first podium finish of his short circuit-racing career.
Dragon Racing locked out the front row for Race 2’s reverse grid race, with Stanek on pole position alongside teammate Rui Andrade (#88). Both unfortunately would be at the hands of the stewards, with Andrade penalised for jumping the start, and Stanek penalised for blocking and gaining and unfair racing advantage. Krütten was the eventual winner, with Alhabsi second and Dürksen third.
Race 3 on Saturday morning again saw Alhabsi and Nannini leading from the front row, with Ghanem up to second on the start. Dürksen constantly challenged the front-running group and made it to second place by lap 20 when Roy caused a collision that was deemed by stewards to be avoidable; a 10-second penalty was applied post-race to Roy. Despite Krütten racing up to second by race’s end, the German racer was also later disqualified due to a technical infringement. His Mücke Motorsport teammate Nico Göhler raced hard to stay within striking distance, finishing second overall – his third podium finish of the season – and Alhabsi third.
The final 30-minute race of the season saw Dürksen start off pole position, with his lead constantly challenged by a hard-charging Roy. Dürksen, Roy and Krütten remained top three for most of the race until Krütten took the lead and greeted the chequered flag first, only to be faced by a lengthy stewards hearing which declared his car to be disqualified post-race due to a technical infringement, while Dürksen was awarded the win, with Roy second and Nannini third.
At the end-of-season Gala Awards dinner held on Saturday March 2 in Dubai, the following drivers were congratulated by their teams, peers, officials and category management.
F4UAE Drivers Champions: Matteo Nannini, Xcel Motorsport
F4UAE Runner-Up: Joshua Dürksen, Mücke Motorsport
F4UAE Third Place: Shihab Alhabsi, Xcel Motorsport
F4UAE Rookie Champion: Matteo Nannini, Xcel Motorsport
F4UAE Teams Champions: Xcel Motorsport
F4UAE Sportsmanship Award: Rashed Ghanem, Dragon Racing
For more information head to www.f4uae.com
NANNINI EXTENDS F4UAE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD AT PENULTIMATE ROUND IN ABU DHABI
Abu Dhabi, UAE, February 25, 2019 – Xcel Motorsport’s Matteo Nannini has extended his championship lead in the 2019 F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth, after winning two races at the penultimate round at Yas Marina Circuit, while Dragon Racing’s Lucas Roy also raced to a double victory at what was his best weekend in open-wheelers.
Coming into Round 4 in Abu Dhabi with just a 17-point lead, the Italian rookie’s strong performance saw him extend his margin to 55 points clear of current championship runner-up, Joshua Dürksen of Mücke Motorsport, with just one weekend of racing left this season.
Four drivers have emerged this season as title contenders, with Roy (#8), Dürksen (#27) and Omani racer Shihab Alhabsi (#34) all sharing wins. However out of the 12 races contested in 2019 so far, it’s 15-year-old Nannini who has been victorious in six in total, helping take his Dubai-based team Xcel Motorsport to the lead of the Teams Championship as well.
“We are witnessing very high level of competition in F4UAE this year, and with one round to go it is exciting that we will be crowning a new champion soon,” said Mohamed Ben Sulayem, President of ATCUAE and Emirates Motor Sport Federation, and FIA Vice President for Sport. "Some drivers had a difficult weekend, while others had very good results, but we hope that all of these young drivers are focused on learning as much as they can about their racing craft while here in the UAE. We wish them all the best at the grand finale in Dubai this week.”
Once again racing on the 5.555km international circuit configuration at Yas Marina Circuit, a 10-car entry list headed for qualifying on Friday morning. Nannini clocked the fastest time of 2m11.427s, enough to give the rookie his third pole position of 2019; a time that was also just shy of two seconds faster than pole position earned by Dürksen at Round 2.
Having dominated the practice and qualifying timesheets all weekend, Nannini and Alhabsi started on the front row for Race 1, followed by Dürksen third and CRAM Motorsport’s Filip Kaminiarz (#55) putting in his best qualifying performance to start fourth.
Nannini and Alhabsi lead the field until lap three when the Omani driver was turned around by Dürksen at the end of the back straight. The Paraguayan had finished the 25-minute race in second place but was given a 10-second post-race penalty for the altercation which dropped him to fifth. The change in position elevated Roy into second place and his Dragon Racing teammate Rui Andrade (#88) to third – his third podium finish of the season – while the third Dragon steerer Rashed Ghanem (#9) earned his best finish of the year in fourth.
For the first of the reverse-grid races, Dürksen started at the rear of the inverted top-six drivers due to the penalty, with the championship leader Nannini starting fifth. Kaminiarz started from pole alongside Lebanese rookie Ghanem; the latter leading for the first half of the race before being swamped by his faster competitors – including teammates Roy and Andrade who finished first and second, with Nannini third. Alhabsi again had a tough race, retiring after sustaining damage cuased by being caught up in an incident involving Dürksen and Roy.
In Race 3, Nannini and Alhabsi again started on the front row; their starting positions being determined by their second fastest lap times in qualifying. However, Dürksen jumped the start and was given another 10-second post-race penalty despite being first car across the line by race’s end. Nannini didn’t get the best of starts, falling back to fifth at one stage on the opening lap, before coming together with teammate Alhabsi on lap two, causing a Safety Car period. Nannini was eventually able to rejoin the back of the field under the yellow caution, while Alhabsi's car was moved off-track, unable to restart the race. Roy finished 6.7 seconds in front of Nannini, who was able to pass six drivers on-track during the remainder of the race to claim second place, and Dürksen slotted into third after his penalty was applied. Rafa Villanueva (#26) finished a credible fourth place, his best result of the season.
For the final reverse grid race of the day, Ghanem and Nico Göhler (#22) started on row one, with the two race winners Nannini and Roy starting fourth and fifth respectively. Dürksen spun on lap one and fell to the back of the field, while a few laps later his teammate Göhler was hit by Roy who was given a 10-second penalty post-race. Nannini made it to the front by lap two and by race’s end finished with a 12-second margin over Alhabsi in second place, who held a commanding race to move up to the podium after starting rear-of-grid. Andrade rounded out the podium again, his third this weekend.
Matteo Nannini, Xcel Motorsport (#15) – Italy. Fastest Qualifier and Winner of Races 1 & 4. Current championship Leader.
“This was a very fantastic weekend. We started with a victory in race one and a podium in race two. In race three we had an accident between me and my teammate but fortunately I could keep going and finished second. Then in the last race I started fourth and raced hard to get to the lead and made a big gap so I could manage the tyres. The most important thing I learn is the overtaking now, because before I didn’t have a lot of confidence but I think race after race I am a better driver. I got good points for the championship this weekend and we want to finish on top next week. If we can do that it’s going to be a good start for the next championship I’m going to do in Europe.”
Lucas Roy, Dragon Racing (#8) – Monaco. Winner of Races 2 & 3. Currently 3rd in the championship.
“I just felt really good from the get-go, my starts were okay, but I was just really aggressive to overtake and determined to get another win after we won already in Dubai at round one. I had quite a few battles with my teammates which was nice, I might be faster than them but they have a lot more racing experience because I didn’t do any karting before I started in F4. Coming to Yas Marina Circuit alone is a fantastic feeling but to now win here is even better. Moving up to third in the championship is also a bonus and we’ll just keep pushing more at the final round next week to make sure we can win there again.”
Matteo Nannini currently leads the F4UAE Championship points on 297, 55 points ahead of Joshua Dürksen in second (242 points) and Lucas Roy who moves up to third (222 points.) Xcel Motorsport leads the Teams Championship over Dragon Racing, and Nannini leads the Rookie Championship over Dürksen.
Round 5 of the 2019 F4UAE Championship – the grand finale – will return to the Dubai Autodrome from February 28-March 2. Dragon Racing will welcome karting racer Roman Stanek as their fourth driver, while former F4UAE racer Niklas Krütten returns to Mücke Motorsport in preparation of his upcoming F4 seasons in Europe.