Stellar Entry for Inaugural Formula Regional Middle East Championship

Published on Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Stellar Entry for Inaugural Formula Regional Middle East Championship

Much of the world’s most exciting young racing talent, including numerous champions, is gearing up for the opening round of the Formula Regional Middle East Championship Certified by FIA at the Dubai Autodrome. The huge, international field will begin its schedule of five triple-header events on 13-14 January in support of the Dubai 24 Hours, before four more rounds, the entire season held at FIA Grade I circuits.

Last year’s Formula Regional champion in the Middle East was Arthur Leclerc, the Ferrari Driver Academy member who used it as a springboard for his FIA Formula 3 campaign and has now graduated to Formula 2. Plenty will be looking to follow in his footsteps, including a strong line-up from the Mumbai Falcons team with which Leclerc raced.

Mumbai Falcons runs with assistance from Italian single-seater powerhouse Prema, and it is this team’s reigning Formula Regional European (FREC) champion Dino Beganovic on whom many eyes will be focused. The Swede is another member of the Ferrari Driver Academy and is joined in the squad by Spaniard Lorenzo Fluxá (another FREC contender) and Prema’s two top stars of Formula 4 in 2022. Italian Andrea Kimi Antonelli, who is backed by the Mercedes F1 team, took an astonishing 26 race wins in F4 last year and carried off not only the Italian and ADAC (German) titles but also the FIA Motorsport Games gold medal. Brazil’s Rafael Câmara, another youngster from the Ferrari stable, scored six wins on his way to runner-up in the F4 UAE standings and pressed Antonelli throughout the European season.

Representing Prema itself in the series are Aiden Neate, third in F4 UAE with the team last year, and South Korean Michael Shin. Both of them step up from British F4.

British operation Hitech Grand Prix, based just outside the gates of Britain’s Silverstone Circuit, has also pulled out the stops with its quartet of contenders.

Gabriele Minì finished runner-up to Beganovic in FREC last year, so the Italian will be a force. So too will Sebastián Montoya, the son of racing hero Juan Pablo and who, like Minì and Beganovic, was a FRegional race winner in the Middle East in 2022. American Red Bull Junior Jak Crawford was a leading contender in FIA F3 last year, and Daniel Mavlyutov moves up from Hitech’s British F4 line-up.

Pinnacle Motorsport has a strong record in the Middle East and the team has now paired up with Dutch single-seater loyalists Van Amersfoort Racing under the Pinnacle VAR banner. Pepe Martí was runner-up to Leclerc in FRegional in early 2022 so he will be a contender, and joining the Spaniard are VAR’s Mexican FIA F3 racer Rafael Villagómez, Thai F4 front-runner Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak and Dutch F4 graduate Niels Koolen.

The other Dutch single-seater powerhouse is also represented with Hyderabad Blackbirds with MP Motorsport. Spain’s Mari Boya and Frenchman Sami Meguetounif showed strong form in FRegional in Europe last year, while American Brad Benavides raced in FIA F3 and Dane Sebastian Øgaard was a race winner in Euroformula Open.

French squad R-Ace GP has always been competitive at this level. It is represented by European FRegional racers – Italian Francesco Braschi and Peruvian Matías Zagazeta – as well as Singapore’s Nikhil Bohra and Hungary’s Levente Révész, who both step up from F4. So too does German team PHM Racing, which has only been existence for one year but has assembled some good talent for its FRegional bow. British racer Taylor Barnard was runner-up to Antonelli in ADAC F4 last season with PHM. He is joined by his 2022 team-mate Nikita Bedrin and Swiss FRegional European ace Joshua Dufek. China’s R&B Racing is also new to FRegional, and is represented by countrymen Cenyu Han and Zhongwei Wang as well as Italian Giovanni Maschio.

2023 Formula Regional Middle East Championship certified by FIA
Provisional Calendar

Date

Venue

Event

January 9-10

Dubai Autodrome, UAE

Pre-Season Test

January 13-14

Dubai Autodrome, UAE

Round 1 (Races 1-3)

January 27-28

Kuwait Motor Town, Kuwait

Round 2 (Races 4-6)

January 31-February 1

Kuwait Motor Town, Kuwait

Round 3 (Races 7-9)

February 11-12

Dubai Autodrome, UAE

Round 4 (Races 10-12)

February 18-19

Yas Marina Circuit, UAE

Round 5 (Races 13-15)

 

 

 

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