Sebastian Montoya, Gabriel Bortoleto and Gabriele Minì take a win at triple-header season-opener at Yas Marina

Published on Monday, January 24, 2022

Sebastian Montoya, Gabriel Bortoleto and Gabriele Minì take a win at triple-header season-opener at Yas Marina

The 2022 Formula Regional Asian Championship (FRAC) Certified by FIA got off to a blistering start at the newly-reconfigured Yas Marina F1 circuit in Abu Dhabi this weekend, with three different drivers each taking a win apiece for three separate teams across a trio of exhilarating 30-minute races.

Mumbai Falcons India Racing Team’s Sebastian Montoya, son of F1 Grand Prix and Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo, took victory in Race 1 from pole ahead of Gabriel Minì and teammate Arthur Leclerc, the 16-year-old Colombian Rookie making an early mark on the 2022 season. Race 2 saw 17-year-old Gabriel Bortoleto of 3Y by R-ace GP claim the win, also from pole courtesy of the new top 10 reversed grid championship regulation. Behind the Brazilian was teammate Lorenzo Fluxá of Spain, with Leclerc taking his second podium in as many races. Hitech Grand Prix’s Minì won the restarted Race 3, the Italian maintaining his pole position advantage to the flag from Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Jak Crawford and Hitech GP’s Isack Hadjar.

After three of 15 races, Minì tops the Driver Classification with a three-point lead over Leclerc with Montoya in third and top of the Rookie Cup standings. Said points leader Minì after his Race 3 victory: “It was a nice race. It was finally a good win. I feel really confident with the team. I feel we are pretty strong, so we will see what we can do!”

Hitech GP leads the Team Classification with a 20-point lead over Mumbai Falcons India Racing, with 3Y R-ace GP in third. BlackArts Racing’s Thomas Luedi, meanwhile, tops the Master Cup leaderboard, eight points ahead of Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Khaled Al Qubaisi.

The championship now moves to the Dubai Autodrome, with the first of three rounds from January 28-30, and held on the 5.39km track configuration. The weekend will feature two, hour-long tests, a free practice, two qualifying sessions and three more 30-minute races.

 

Race 1
Mumbai Falcons Racing’s Sebastian Montoya belied his Rookie status by snatching pole position for Race 1 after a closely-contested opening qualifying session. Red Bull Junior Team driver Jak Crawford lined up alongside the 16-year-old, with the Hitech Grand Prix duo of Isack Hadjar and Gabriele Minì on the second row.

The drama began as the lights went out on the first race of the 2022 season when Crawford dramatically stalled on the grid, while Montoya wasted no time in pulling away from a chasing pack headed by Hadjar, Minì, Arthur LeClerc and Dino Beganovic. Crawford managed to get the car going and began his fightback from the back of the field.

An early brush with Pepe Marti saw 3Y R-ace GP driver Gabriel Bortoleto drop from the top ten down to 21st but, like Crawford, the 17-year-old Brazilian quickly recovered to mount a comeback.

Just minutes into the race, however, the safety car was called out for the first time after 3Y R-ace GP’s Oliver Goethe came to a halt.

When racing resumed at the halfway point, Montoya controlled the restart superbly, maximizing his advantage to pull an impressive gap from his rivals. Behind him, Hadjar came under attack from both Minì and Leclerc, the trio three-wide in the battle for second. Leclerc prevailed, with Minì giving chase and Hadjar nudged down to fourth. Moments later though, Minì found his way past Leclerc, just seconds before the safety car was called out for a second time.

By the second safety car, Crawford had fought his way back up to 11th in the order while – crucially – Bortoleto had climbed to tenth. As the remaining minutes ticked away, racing was unable to resume, with Montoya taking his maiden championship ahead of Minì, with the Colombian’s Mumbai Falcons Racing teammate Leclerc claiming the final podium place. The tenth-place finish for Bortoleto earned him pole position for Race 2 under the championship’s new-for-2022 reversed grid rules.

Evans GP’s Freddie Lubin was the second-best Rookie finisher in seventh overall, ahead of Hitech GP’s Leonardo Fornaroli and his teammate Joshua Dufek, who secured a front-row start for Race 2 alongside Bortoleto.

In the Master Cup category, Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema Emirati driver Khaled Al Qubaisi took the first win of the season, ahead of championship newcomer Salih Yoluç of Pinnacle Motorsport and BlackArts Racing’s Thomas Luedi.

Two drivers picked up five-place grid penalties for Race 2; Pepe Marti, for the incident with Bortoleto, and Cem Bolukbasi for his Turn 6 contact with 3Y R-ace GP’s Hadrien David.

 

Race 2
With the first five rows in the finishing order of Race 1 and then reversed, 3Y R-ace GP’s Gabriel Bortoleto started from pole, with Hitech Grand Prix Rookie Joshua Dufek alongside, and points-leader Sebastian Montoya the furthest back of the Mumbai Falcons Racing trio on P10.

Bortoleto wasted no time maximizing his pole advantage, a strong getaway giving him the momentum to pull clear of the field – crucial in an action-packed race which was to see a high rate of attrition. Joshua Dufek held on to second chased by Leonardo Fornaroli, while behind them Isack Hadjar was up to fourth from P7.  

An early incident between Master Cup drivers Pinnacle Motorsport’s Salih Yoluç and Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Khaled Al Qubaisi saw their race end early, allowing BlackArts Racing’s Thomas Luedi to take the class win unchallenged.

Meanwhile, back at the sharp end, Hadjar found his way past Fornaroli and into podium contention, with Lorenzo Fluxá having to contend with a hard-charging Arthur Leclerc, up to sixth from P8. Next Hadjar picked off Dufek to go second, while behind the pair a three-wide standoff between Dino Beganovic, Gabriele Minì and Race 1 winner Montoya ended in disaster for all but the Colombian.

The incident brought out the safety car, annihilating Bortoleto’s 1.838s advantage, and putting the hungry Hadjar right on his tail. At the restart mid-way through the 30-minute race, Bortoleto held the lead but this time had to fight to shake off Hadjar. Behind the leading duo, Dufek dropped down the order from third to seventh, putting Fluxá into podium contention, the 17-year-old getting the bit between his teeth and heading off in search of Hadjar.

However, it was not to be when the outcome of another three-way battle, this time between Evans GP’s Cem Bolukbasi, Pinnacle Motorsport’s Pepe Marti and 3Y R-ace GP’s Hadrien David, brought out the safety car for a second time with just seven minutes remaining.

As Hadjar prepared for the restart behind the safety car, a technical glitch forced him into the pits, dashing his hopes of a podium finish and promoting Fluxá to second ahead of Leclerc who, as the cars were released for one last charge to the flag, withstood a fierce last-gasp attack from teammate Montoya. Bortoleto sailed over the line to take a well-deserved lights-to-flag first championship victory, while Montoya took the Rookie win from Fornaroli and Dufek.

 

Race 3
Cem Bolukbasi, Hadrien David and Leonardo Fornaroli all received grid penalties for the start of Race 3, but that did not affect the front rows with Gabriele Minì lining up on pole with Red Bull Junior Team American Jak Crawford alongside, and Race 2 winner Gabriel Bortoleto and Isack Hadjar on row two.

As the lights went out, Minì was slow to get away allowing Crawford to shoot into the lead, but back on row 10, Bolukbasi had stalled. While some drivers were able to take evasive action to avoid the stricken car, Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Amna Al Qubaisi and Pinnacle Motorsport’s Salih Yoluç were caught up in the melee. None of the drivers were hurt in the incident, but it brought out the red flag and a lengthy stoppage as the track was cleared.

That gave Minì a second chance at converting his pole position into a win and, at the restart behind the safety car and with 27 minutes on the clock, the Hitech GP driver expertly controlled the field. Behind Minì, Hadjar pulled alongside Crawford with Bortoleto joining the party. A bold move around the outside of Hadjar saw Bortoleto snatch third in the order, before the furious Frenchman reclaimed the position moments later. The battle behind allowed Minì to increase his lead to almost three seconds as Crawford continued his pursuit and Hadjar’s attempts at closing in were thwarted by an unrelenting Bortoleto.

Behind the top four, Rookie Pepe Marti had made strong progress from his P7 grid position, the Pinnacle Motorsport driver holding Paul Aron at bay, who was soon under fire from Arthur Leclerc. Leclerc got by Aron, but Marti was also on the move and up to fourth and clear of the Monegasque with just minutes remaining. Leclerc went one better before the flag, diving past Bortoleto to cross the line fifth.

Minì took the win with a 2.659 margin over Crawford, with Hadjar taking the final podium place and Marti finishing top Rookie in fourth overall ahead of Sebastian Montoya and Evans GP Academy’s Levente Révész, after Joshua Dufek was handed a post-race 10 second time penalty.

In the Master Cup class, Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Khaled Al Qubaisi and BlackArts Racing’s Thomas Luedi fought tooth and nail for the class honours, a thrilling end to the weekend for the on-track arch-rivals.

 

Formula Regional Asian Championship certified by FIA 2022

Drivers’ Championship standings after Round 1 (top 10)

 Pos

No.

Driver

Nat

Points

1

4

Gabriele MINÌ

ITA

43

2

28

Arthur LECLERC

MON

40

3

46

Sebastian MONTOYA (R)

COL

38

4

18

Gabriel BORTOLETO

BRA

34

5

16

Lorenzo FLUXÁ

ESP

30

6

6

Isack HADJAR

FRA

27

7

52

Jak CRAWFORD

USA

24

8

5

Leonardo FORNAROLI (R)

ITA

14

9

23

Pepe MARTI (R)

ESP

12

10

10

Dino BEGANOVIC

SWE

10

10

78

Frederick LUBIN (R)

GBR

10

10

7

Joshua DUFEK (R)

SUI

10

 

Rookie Cup standings after Round 1 (top 10)

 Pos

No.

Driver

Nat

Points

1

46

Sebastian MONTOYA

COL

68

2

5

Leonardo FORNAROLI

ITA

35

2

7

Joshua DUFEK

SUI

35

3

78

Frederick LUBIN

GBR

34

4

11

Levente RÉVÉSZ

HUN

33

5

23

Pepe MARTI

ESP

25

6

55

Ayato IWASAKI

PHI

24

7

88

Hamda AL QUBAISI

UAE

22

8

21

Brice MORABITO

LUX

16

9

77

David MORALES

USA

6

10

27

Dilano van’t HOFF

NED

0

 

Masters Trophy standings after Round 1

 Pos

No.

Driver

Nat

Points

1

9

Thomas LUEDI

SUI

58

2

66

Khaled AL QUBAISI

UAE

50

3

34

Salih YOLUÇ

TUR

18

 

Teams’ Championship standings after Round 1

Pos 

Team

Points

1

Hitech Grand Prix

70

2

Mumbai Falcons India Racing

50

3

3Y by R-ace GP

36

4

Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema

30

5

Pinnacle Motorsport

12

6

Evans GP

10

7

Evans GP Academy

2

8

BlackArts Racing

0

 

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)

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rate this article:
No rating
Comments (0)Number of views (274)
Print

Documents to download