Mugello Circuit - Ugo Ugochukwu writes his name in a new chapter in the history of young single-seater racing, winning the first-ever race of the Euro 4 Championship, the new series promoted by ACI Sport and WSK Promotion. The junior McLaren driver from Prema Racing started in third position and quickly moved up to second place at the start, then chasing after pole-sitter Kacper Sztuka, the extremely fast Polish driver from US Racing. The battle lasted throughout the race, with a rapid exchange of overtakes that briefly saw the American driver take the lead. The change of leadership finally occurred on the last lap when Ugochukwu attempted an outside pass and then made the move on the inside. It was a brilliant maneuver that allowed him to run away and secure his first victory of the season. Sztuka put up a strong defense throughout the race, leading in the early stages, but he then lost a bit of pace during the 30-minute race as the fast Tuscan track, combined with the high temperatures, impacted heavily on the tyres. The Polish driver had to settle for second place after providing a great show on the track.
Akshay Bohra, the Singaporean driver from US Racing, claimed the third spot on the podium while also securing the Rookie class victory. Bohra built a gap and challenged for the race lead in the early stages but was slowed down by the battle with Arvid Lindblad. The two drivers’ car even made wheel-to-wheel contact in the final stages of the race. At the checkered flag, Akshay Bohra secured the final available position on the overall podium, enduring pressure from behind in the latter part of the race. Arvid Lindblad, the Red Bull junior driver representing Prema Racing, finished in fourth place after starting from the sixth block on the grid, the furthest back he will start during the weekend. Before pursuing Bohra, noteworthy battles on track took place between Lindblad and Wharton. Nicola Lacorte, the local driver at the Tuscan track, contributed to Prema Racing's points tally, finishing in fifth place, followed by his teammate James Wharton, the Australian driver from the Ferrari Driver Academy, in sixth position. Zachary David, the driver from US Racing, crossed the finish line in seventh place, ahead of Finnish driver Tuukka Taponen from Prema Racing's Ferrari Driver Academy. Brando Badoer, the Italian driver from Team Van Amersfoort Racing, claimed ninth place, bringing the Team's colors into the top 10. Rashid Al Dhaheri from Prema, the Emirati driver, was the tenth to cross the finish line, but he received a 10-second penalty for a jump start, losing the final point in favor of French driver Raphael Narac from R-ace GP.
Two more races are scheduled for tomorrow, with Lindblad and Wharton starting from pole position. The next appointment at Mugello Circuit is set for Sunday, July 10th. Race 2 will start at 11:20 (30' + 1 lap), followed by the thrilling conclusion of the first event of the Euro 4 Championship with Race 3 at 18:15 (30' + 1 lap).
Ugo Ugochukwu: “It was a great race, I'm extremely happy. I started third and had a strong start, quickly moving into second position. Sztuka was very fast in the beginning, and I focused on managing my tires well, as they wear out quickly in this heat. Towards the end, I had the advantage, and I attempted several overtakes, but he defended really well. On the last lap, I managed to overtake him on the outside of Turn 2. The car felt really good, and I want to thank the entire Prema Team. We've worked hard to get to this point. I'm already happy, and we'll see what we can do in the upcoming races, starting from the front again.”
Kacper Sztuka: “It was a very good race. In the beginning I made gap, then he [Ugochukwu] closed it. We had a few fights and, unluckily for me, in the last lap he got passed. I’m not fully happy for sure with P2, but still is a podium, we have a good pace. We keep going, we keep doing the best as we can and see what happens there. In Mugello degradation is pretty big, this is a fast circuit. I think we did quite a good job, but maybe Prema did a little bit better, and that’s why we have lost in the end. We have to analyze it and see what we can do tomorrow.”
Akshay Bohra: “It was a pretty good race, it was difficult starting from the outside line, I was struggling a bit for traction, and then we were into P3 already by the first lap. I just managed my race, I saw this big gap behind me, so I just focused in front. I was struggling a bit for pace, well, I was just managing the tyres, Arvid ended up arriving and I just kept my cool and focused on making the best lap time possible. I think we managed to do that, P3 is a solid result, but I think there is more we can extract. Mugello itself is a very tyre degrading track. Is very high-speed, especially on the left side with Arrabiata and a lot of fast corners. You pair that with the hot summer in Tuscany, that’s pretty hard on the tyres. It’s important to be very smooth and not over use tyres, but at the same time, if you’re slowing down, everyone is going to attack you. I you have to think about that in the moment. Tomorrow we are going to start P4 and P6, there are still a lot of opportunity to play for.”