Abu Dhabi: The sensational start of 2022 action at Yas Marina Circuit continued this weekend, as the F4 UAE championship kicked off its sixth season in dramatic fashion at the region’s home of motorsport.
Across three days of intense racing on track, 27 drivers from 11 teams contested the season opener in Abu Dhabi in the new, second-generation T-421 Tatuus car for 2022 with Prema Racing’s Andrea Kimi Antonelli winning the first two races, MP Motorpsort’s Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak claiming the Race 3 victory, while new entrant PHM Racing scored the Race 4 win with first-time victor Taylor Barnard.
Antonelli, after his two wins on the newly reconfigured Yas Marina Circuit course said “It’s been really competitive, and I feel that the track is also really good for racing because it’s pretty wide, so it’s not really hard to make overtakes. I think it’s a really nice track and the layout really help to make racing more interesting.”
Inthraphuvasak, who started on pole for the season opener, stalled on the grid and dropped to the rear of the field, with Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Aiden Neate (#57) taking the lead ahead of his teammates which lead to one of the closest finishes in the category’s history.
On his performance across the weekend, Inthraphuvasak said “It’s been really good. The team and I worked really hard, and we found the pace. There’s the car change and also the track layout change, so it took a bit of time to adapt, but I’m happy with how it’s going so far.”
Crossing the line in a photo finish of just 0.003 seconds clear of each other, Antonelli (#99) took the victory in the opening race by the smallest of margins ahead of Neate and Aussie rookie James Wharton (#13) in third and making his single-seater debut for Prema Racing.
Despite Antonelli not returning to compete until Round 3, he leads the championship lead ahead of Inthraphuvasak and Neate respectively. The F4UAE Championship next heads to Dubai Autodrome for Rounds 2 to 4, starting next week from January 28-30. The 2022 season contests five rounds over five weeks.
In the first round of action in the Formula Regional Asian Championship, the 3-race weekend would see victories split between Mumbai Falcons’ Sebastian Montoya, 3Y Technology UAE’s Gabriel Bortoleto and Hitech Grand Prix’s Gabriele Mini.
Montoya, led from pole position to win in difficult circumstances following a race filled with flash-points which resulted in the Mumbai Falcons’ driver taking the his first single-seater victory behind the safety car. In the weekend’s second race, Bortoleto held off teammate Lorenze Fluxa in a final lap shootout to earn victory as the safety car was deployed following another race filled with incidents on the Yas Marina Circuit course.
Emirati sensation Amna Al Qubaisi, racing alongside her father, Khaled and sister, Hamda secured a top 10 spot following her performance in Race Two of the weekend while Gabriele Mini took advantage of the chaotic start to the final race of the weekend to earn victory at the region’s home of motorsport.
Driving line up
In the latest stage of the Hankook endurance series, the 6 Hours Abu Dhabi race saw Baron Motorsport #86 take victory, as their star driving line up of Kirchmayr, Baron, Ziemian, Jefferies and Mac maintained the race lead throughout to earn the victory, completing 166 laps of the iconic Yas Marina Circuit track. JR Motorsport’s #2 led by van Vilet and Weering took second, passing third placed Saalocin by Kox Racing’s #48 in the closing stages and round out the podium spots respectively.
The latest edition of the Gulf Radical Cup saw JWR’s George King get the edge over the TT Racing trio of Khazzoum, Feyzulin and Bukhantsov to stand on top of the podium despite some late drama in the shape of a 20 second penalty given to JWR’s #14 for not complying with the mandatory pit stop requirements.
Racing fans can look forward to a thrilling year of racing to come at Yas Marina Circuit, with the third round of Yas Racing Series takes place 17-20th February, as well Yas Super Street Challenge and Emirates Drift Championship set to continue at the region’s home of motorsport.