Arthur Leclerc Tightens Grip on Championship as Mumbai Falcons Celebrate Triple Victories

Published on Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Arthur Leclerc Tightens Grip on Championship as Mumbai Falcons Celebrate Triple Victories

Dubai, UAE – The talent-packed Formula Regional Asian Championship field delivered yet another trio of white-knuckle thrillers as the Mumbai Falcons’ Sebastian Montoya, Dino Beganovic and Arthur Leclerc took a win apiece in Round 3 at the Dubai Autodrome. Racing on the full 5.39km GP track configuration for the first time this season, the FIA-Certified championship served up intense drama throughout the third of five triple-headers, with Leclerc extending his lead in the Driver Classification, sensational Rookie Pepe Marti strengthening his hold on the Rookie Cup, and the Mumbai Falcons swooping to conquer in the race for the Teams title.

Race 1 saw Sebastian Montoya takes his second overall victory and third Rookie Cup win from pole, leading home team mates Leclerc and Beganovic for a 1-2-3 podium lockout by the Mumbai Falcons team. In Race 2, championship returnee ‘Dynamite’ Dino Beganovic announced his comeback with an epic drive to take the honours from pole-sitter Michael Belov of Evans GP and Leclerc, with Marti fourth across the line and taking the Rookie Cup win.

The final race of the weekend saw Leclerc takes his second championship victory so far this season, heading home Marti and his Pinnacle Motorsport team mate and pole-sitter Dilano van’t Hoff.

Half way through the 2022 season Leclerc holds a 35-point lead at the top of the Driver Classification leaderboard over Marti in second. Montoya is currently third in the standings but now bows out of the championship to prepare for the European season, Beganovic is fourth and Hitech GP Red Bull Junior Isack Hadjar lies in fifth. However, with a maximum of 150 points still on offer, the title fight remains wide open.

In the Rookie Cup standings, with the absence of Montoya, Marti’s closest challenger is Hitech GP’s Leonardo Fornaroli, followed by the Italian’s team mate Joshua Dufek and the Evans GP pair of Levente Révész and Freddie Lubin. Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Khaled Al Qubaisi continues to dominate the Masters Cup from BlackArts Racing’s Thomas Luedi and Pinnacle Motorsport’s Salih Yoluç. Topping the race for the Teams title are the Mumbai Falcons, with Pinnacle Motorsport climbing to second ahead of Hitech GP.

The teams and drivers will have three more opportunities to gain championship points at the Dubai Autodrome in Round 4, also on the full GP circuit, from February 11-13. For the fifth and final round of the 2022 season the series returns to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for the season-closing triple-header from February 17-20.

 

Race 1
All eyes were on sensational Rookie and pole-sitter Sebastian Montoya as the lights went out, but the Colombian made a tardy getaway which allowed Isack Hadjar, who had rocketed away from P2, to pull alongside. Heading into Turn 1 though, the Montoya pulled a gutsy move around the outside to retain his pole advantage. Hadjar tried to fight back but Montoya managed to shake clear of the tenacious Red Bull Junior driver to pull almost half a second lead by the end of the opening lap.

Jak Crawford also made a disastrous start, losing his P3 grid position and dropping right down the order. By contrast, Rookie Leonardo Fornaroli inherited third in the order which he doggedly held on to despite the thunderous quartet of Dino Beganovic, Paul Aron, Arthur Leclerc and Pepe Marti behind.

There was disappointment early on when both Hadjar and Fornaroli were each handed a five second time penalty for a grid box regulation infringement. Despite running at the front of the field on the road, the penalties were to deny them podiums, points and silverware.

Mid-way through the race, drama struck when the engine of championship newcomer Francesco Braschi blew, bringing out the red flag and seeing the field file into pit lane. At the restart behind the safety car, Montoya expertly controlled the pack and, this time, made a blinding getaway. Leclerc was a man on the move from six though, diving past Aron, with Marti also finding his way around the Estonian and demoting him seventh ahead of Dilano van’t Hoff and Lorenzo Fluxá.

Pierre Louis Chovet had been running in tenth – provisional pole position in the top ten-reversed grid Race 2 – but both he and Michael Belov got past Fluxá, demoting the Spaniard to 11th and the Russian snatching pole for the first of Sunday’s races in just his second career outing on the Dubai Autodrome. The final seconds of the race saw BlackArts Racing’s Masters Cup driver Thomas Luedi lock wheels while battling with class rival Salih Yoluç and hit the barrier, but emerge unhurt.

Meanwhile, Montoya sailed across the line to take his second overall victory and third Rookie Cup win. Leclerc took second, extending his lead at the top of the Driver championship standings, ahead of team mate Beganovic who completed a dream 1-2-3 podium lockout for the Mumbai Falcons. Fourth overall and second Rookie was Marti, with van’t Hoff third of the Rookie Cup runners in seventh overall.

The disconsolate duo of Hadjar and Fornaroli were second and third on the road but, after the penalties were applied, the Frenchman was classified fifth and the Italian ninth, promoting Chovet to eighth. Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Khaled Al Qubaisi took his sixth Masters Cup win in seven races ahead of Yoluç and Luedi.

 

Race 2
The top ten reverse grid for Race 2 put Evans GP’s Michael Belov on pole with Rookie Leonardo Fornaroli alongside. The pair both got away well as the lights were extinguished, but Fornaroli stole the march on the Russian to snatch the leading into Turn 1. As the pair battled two abreast along the back straight, Dilano van’t Hoff joined the party, getting by Fornaroli to go second as Belov reclaimed the race lead.

Behind them, Dino Beganovic had made a phenomenal start, up from P8 to fourth by the end of the opening lap and leading Pepe Marti, Isack Hadjar and Arthur Leclerc in seventh. Race 1 winner Sebastian Montoya was forced to take evasive action from a spinning Paul Aron at the start, dropping the Colombian to 20th in the order from his P10 starting position.

Lap three saw Beganovic continue his epic charge, passing Fornaroli to climb into podium contention, but the Swede was far from done. Leclerc was also on the move, diving around the outside of Marti at Turn 1, before picking off Fornaroli, to go fourth.

As battles raged throughout the field, Belov held the lead from Hoff, but Beganovic was rapidly closing in on the Dutchman and, as the race – and the season – approached the half way point, the Swede made his intentions crystal clear. As Beganovic set up a move on Hoff, the Dutchman went to cover and the bold Swede held the line around the outside, sweeping past and up to second.

Beganovic could now taste victory and set off on the hunt for Belov, annihilating the Russian’s advantage and piling on the pressure. Belov ran wide and Beganovic didn’t need a second invitation, executing another wheel-perfect move around the outside to snatch the lead. Behind him, Mumbai Falcons team mate Leclerc had found his way past Hoff to go third.

Beganovic crossed the line to take his first win of the season, with Belov holding on to second from Leclerc. Marti, fourth overall, took his fifth Rookie Cup victory to strengthen his lead in the class ahead of fellow Spaniard Lorenzo Fluxá. Hoff was the second Rookie finisher in sixth overall, ahead of Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Jak Crawford and Evans GP’s Patrik Pasma. Montoya staged an epic comeback to finish ninth and in the points ahead of Evans GP driver Nicola Marinangeli who rounded out the top 10. Several drivers picked up post-race penalties; Chovet, tenth across the line, received a five second penalty for a grid box infringement plus a further 10 for the early-race incident with Aron, dropping him to twelfth in the classification; 3Y by R-ace GP’s Oliver Goethe received a five second track limits penalty; while Hitech GP Rookie Joshua Dufek was demoted five grid positions for Race 3 after contact with Fornaroli.

Salih Yoluç took his maiden championship Masters Cup victory from class-leader Khaled Al Qubaisi and Thomas Luedi.  

 

Race 3
It was an all-Rookie front row for Race 3, with Dilano van’t Hoff on pole and Rookie Cup points leader Pepe Marti on P2, and Drivers’ Championship leader Arthur Leclerc and Rookie Sebastian Montoya poised to pounce from row two.

Hoff made a quick getaway but Marti got a better one, diving on the inside and snatching the lead from his furious Pinnacle Motorsport team mate. Leclerc gave chase in third, while behind him Isack Hadjar had already found his way past Montoya and up to fourth.

Leclerc was quick to react when Hoff made a mistake in front of him, locking up and allowing the Monégasque to close in. With perfect timing, Leclerc shot down the inside of Hoff and up to P2, and set off to hunt down Rookie Marti.

Marti desperately tried to shake off Leclerc, but the Mumbai Falcons ace nipped in on the inside to claim the lead. Marti didn’t concede easily though and, as the pair fought it out, Hoff closed in and nipped past Leclerc. Leclerc snatched back the position and this time Hoff had to defend from Montoya who had closed up to the front-runners. As Leclerc, Hoff and Montoya fought it out, Marti had a brief breather out in front, but the safety car was called out after Hadjar came to a halt at the end of pit lane. At the same time, Paul Aron pitted after an incident with Beganovic at Turn 10. Beganovic was later handed a penalty of five grid positions for the next race for the incident.

Marti expertly controlled the restart, valiantly holding the lead from Leclerc until an error at the hairpin allowed the Ferrari Academy driver to dive past and storm to the chequered flag. Behind him, the Spaniard now had Hoff on the attack, the pair crossing the start/finish line two abreast with the Dutchman leading by a whisker. Marti reclaimed second and set off for the finish line, leading home fellow Rookies Hoff and Montoya, Evans GP’s Patrik Pasma and team mate Michael Belov, and BlackArts Racing’s Pierre Louis Chovet. Lorenzo Fluxá of 3Y by R-ace GP and Hitech GP Rookies Leonardo Fornaroli and Joshua Dufek rounded out the top ten.

In the Masters Cup, Salih Yoluç took the win with BlackArts Racing’s Thomas Luedi second and class leader Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Khaled Al Qubaisi third after picking up a five second penalty for a false start. 

 

Formula Regional Asian Championship Certified By FIA 2022
Drivers’ Championship standings after Round 3 (top 10)

 Pos

No.

Driver

Nat

Points

1

28

Arthur LECLERC

MON

131

2

23

Pepe MARTI (R)

ESP

96

3

46

Sebastian MONTOYA (R)

COL

92

4

10

Dino BEGANOVIC

SWE

88

5

6

Isack HADJAR

FRA

71

6

17

Hadrien DAVID

FRA

64

7

16

Lorenzo FLUXÁ

ESP

56

8

4

Gabriele MINÌ

ITA

55

9

52

Jak CRAWFORD

USA

52

10

18

Gabriel BORTOLETO

BRA

46


Rookie Cup standings after Round 3 (top 10)

 Pos

No.

Driver

Nat

Points

1

23

Pepe MARTI

ESP

168

2

46

Sebastian MONTOYA

COL

145

3

5

Leonardo FORNAROLI

ITA

104

4

7

Joshua DUFEK

SUI

89

5

11

Levente RÉVÉSZ

HUN

83

6

78

Frederick LUBIN

GBR

69

7

27

Dilano van’t HOFF

NED

68

8

88

Hamda AL QUBAISI

UAE

56

9

55

Ayato IWASAKI

PHI

42

10

77

David MORALES

USA

25

 

 Masters Trophy standings after Round 3

 Pos

No.

Driver

Nat

Points

1

66

Khaled AL QUBAISI

UAE

183

2

9

Thomas LUEDI

HKG

151

3

34

Salih YOLUÇ

TUR

140

 

Teams’ Championship standings after Round 3

Pos 

Team

Points

1

Mumbai Falcons India Racing

218

2

Pinnacle Motorsport

131

3

Hitech Grand Prix

130

4

3Y by R-ace GP

124

5

Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema

67

6

Evans GP

51

7

BlackArts Racing

19

8

Evans GP Academy

2

 

2022 Formula Regional Asian Championship 2022 Provisional Calendar

Date

Venue

Event

January 19-20

Yas Marina, UAE

Pre-Season Test

January 21-23

Yas Marina, UAE

Round 1 (Races 1-3)

January 28-30

Dubai Autodrome, UAE

Round 2 (Races 4-6)

February 04-06

Dubai Autodrome, UAE

Round 3 (Races 7-9)

February 11-13

Dubai Autodrome, UAE

Round 4 (Races 10-12)

February 17-20

Yas Marina Circuit, UAE

Round 5 (Races 13-15)

 

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