Antonelli leads action-packed Formula Regional Middle East Championship in Dubai

The Mumbai Falcons’ 16-year-old Mercedes Formula 1-backed talent won Race 1

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Andrea Kimi Antonelli (centre). — Supplied photo
Andrea Kimi Antonelli (centre). — Supplied photo

Published: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 6:36 PM

Many witnessed thrilling, action-packed racing in the Formula Regional Middle East Championship (FRMEC) as the Giti-powered series returned to the Dubai Autodrome from Kuwait Motor Town. The weekend of high-octane races culminated in Italian Andrea Kimi Antonelli taking the points lead into the final round at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

But the fourth round in Dubai had been the most unpredictable race of the season so far. Kimi Antonelli may have shared wins in Dubai with Pepe Martí and Nikita Bedrin, but it was Taylor Barnard who scored the biggest points and remains very much in the picture for the title.

Ace Antonelli had to work hard for his victory in race one. The Mumbai Falcons’ 16-year-old Mercedes Formula 1-backed talent had dropped to third on lap one in a thrilling three-wide battle against PHM Racing pair Barnard and Josh Dufek. Antonelli soon recovered second from Swiss ace Dufek and then wrested the lead from British talent Barnard following an early safety car. Antonelli’s Mumbai Falcons teammate Rafael Câmara was also making advancement. The Brazilian, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, pulled off brilliant outbraking manoeuvres on Dufek for third and then on Barnard to claim second.

After missing the previous round at Kuwait Motor Town, Martí returned to action for Pinnacle VAR and led the second race throughout from the reversed-grid pole position. The 17-year-old was fervently pursued the entire race by Mumbai Falcons driver and fellow Spaniard, Lorenzo Fluxá, as others continued ferocious battles in their wake. The battles for positions came to a climax on the final lap when Aiden Neate was turned around at Turn 10 by Bedrin during their battle for third. Barnard slipped through for another podium finish plus the Rookie Cup prize. Antonelli finished fourth on the road, but two penalties dropped him to 10th.

There was redemption for Bedrin in the final race in Dubai. The 17-year-old led Dufek and Barnard in a PHM Racing 1-2-3 for much of the distance in a race much interrupted by the safety car. Barnard strove to find a way past Dufek and his late-race bid to do so failed to come off. Instead, it let Antonelli past, but the Italian immediately attacked Dufek and after contact was made, both ran wide and Barnard sailed past to claim second position from Dufek and Antonelli.

It leaves Barnard 37 points behind Antonelli, with 75 on the table in Abu Dhabi. Also in mathematical contention are Câmara and Fluxá, although they are respectively 73 and 74 points behind.

As Giti continues to support these budding racers during the Formula Regional Middle East Championships, Giti is able to enjoy “the unique opportunity for incredible achievements born from the synergy between engineering and racing teams”, shared Chris Bloor, Executive Director (International Sales & Marketing), from Giti Tire.

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