Akshay Bohra penalized for the incident with Arvid Lindblad, resulting in a drastic change in the Championship standings after the penultimate race of the year. Team Trophy awarded to Prema Racing. Now Race 3 will assign the title, with poleman Ugo Ugochukwu in a very favorable position.
There were no shortage of twists and turns in the penultimate race of the year in Barcelona, the third and final round of the Euro 4 Championship. The race witnessed the dominance of James Wharton, Ferrari Driver Academy driver for Prema Racing, who took P1 with a flawless entry into the first chicane and led from there to the finish. Building a gap thanks to perfect driving, the Australian secured a significant win. His pace mirrored the one shown in Race 1 yesterday, in which he then received a 5-second penalty to going wide through the chicane gaining one position in the first lap and slipped to P3. There was no doubt today, with an excellent performance that outclassed the competition. With the victory, which, like the other races of the final round, awarded double points, James Wharton climbed to 145 points and took the lead in the standings, with only one race left in the series. The Championship standings were reshaped in the first lap when Prema Racing's junior Red Bull driver, Arvid Lindblad, Championship leader before Race 2, attacked Akshay Bohra of US Racing for the second position. A contact between the two forced Lindblad to restart from the back, finishing the race P10. Bohra, on the other hand, maintained the second position until the end of the race. The result would have allowed US Racing's driver to secure P1 in the standings, but due to this incident, he received a post-race penalty of 10 seconds, which dropped him to sixth in Race 2. The final podium, therefore, saw Ugo Ugochukwu in second place behind Wharton, while Tuukka Taponen completed the top three for Prema Racing. The Vicenza-based Team can officially celebrate the Team Trophy victory, with the mathematical confirmation coming after Race 2.
Ugochukwu, the American junior McLaren driver, made a magnificent move in the final stages with an exciting overtake against his teammate, the Finnish Ferrari Driver Academy. The situation now looks extremely promising for Ugochukwu; heading into the final race starting from pole position, he has accumulated 143 points, just 2 fewer than leader Wharton, who will start from further back. With P3 for Taponen, he claimed the top spot on the Rookie podium, a classification where the title is still up for grabs between Bohra and Lindblad, with the former leading by a short margin.
Fourth place went to Nicola Lacorte, the second Rookie of the race. The Tuscan driver for Prema Racing stood out on the track during the battle for the overall podium, significantly reducing the margin and taking an active part in the fight for P3. Fifth place went to Zachary David, the third driver to step on the Rookie podium. The Maltese-Filipino driver for US Racing completed a perfect race, fighting in the hot zone of the group, in the midst of the action even when a collision between Prema Racing drivers Rashid Al Dhaheri and Freddie Slater caused a stop for both. Al Dhaheri was given a drive-through penalty converted to 25 seconds for the incident.
With sixth place after the penalty, Bohra can still hope, with a total of 137 points, everything is still to be defined for him in this afternoon's race.
Seventh in Race 2 was US Racing's Chinese driver Ruiqi Liu. Eighth at the finish was Van Amersfoort Racing's Dutch driver Lin Hodenius, penalized with 10 seconds for a dangerous maneuver in the formation lap, with P8 going to his Italian teammate Brando Badoer. Closing the points zone were Danish driver Frederick Lund for Van Amersfoort Racing and Arvid Lindblad. Lindblad, despite scoring only 2 points in the race, with a total of 124 points, is the last of the drivers still mathematically in the running for the overall title. P11 went to Ferrari Driver Academy's Aurelia Nobels, who won the women's race by crossing the finish line ahead of AKM Motorsport's Tina Hausmann. However, for the Swiss driver Hausmann, repaid by excellent work in previous rounds, finishing the final race of the year ahead of the direct competitor will be enough to go home with the Women's Trophy, which would pair with the one already obtained at Vallelunga in the Italian F.4 Championship just last week.
The race was conditioned for Diego De La Torre of AKM Motorsport, who stalled on the grid and finished in P14 ahead of Al Dhaheri. Problems also for Gianmarco Pradel and Giacomo Pedrini, representing US Racing and Van Amersfoort Racing, respectively, out on the first lap due to an incident that required the intervention of the Safety Car on the track. Pedrini was penalized with the loss of 2 positions on the grid for the next race by the Stewards' decision.
James Wharton: “It’s good to get redemption from yesterday. I’m happy with what I have done today. Obviously is going to be hard to win the Championship, since Ugo is starting from pole in Race 3. I’m going to do my best and hopefully, I can come home with the Championship as well.”
Ugo Ugochukwu: "I had a pretty good start. I tried to be a bit conservative in the first corners, not to risk too much. I came out of the first lap in fourth position. It was difficult to pass Tuukka; he was closing aggressively. I had to attempt an overtake because these points are crucial for the Championship. I'm happy to be on the podium. We will start in pole for the final race, and the goal will be to win it and secure the Championship."