Mumbai Falcons’ Andrea Kimi Antonelli and PHM Racing’s Nikita Bedrin claimed the final poles of the Formula Regional Middle East season at Yas Marina Circuit.
R&B Racing’s Giovanni Maschio was first to set a lap, but it was ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ with his time at the top as Hyderabad Blackbirds powered by MP driver Mari Boya and then R-ace GP’s Martinius Stenshorne brought the pace down quickly.
Pinnacle VAR’s Pepe Marti was an early second behind Stenshorne, but would be one of several drivers to lose laptimes to track limits violations, and Hyderabad Blackbirds’ Owen Tangavelou was then on top with a 1m51.827s lap.
Stenshorne reclaimed first place with a 1m51.501s, putting him just under a tenth of a second ahead of team-mate Tim Tramnitz, then Marti briefly held top spot before Antonelli broke into the 1m50s and his team-mate Rafael Camara rose into third place but a huge 0.589 seconds off his pace.
Going into the second half of the 15-minute session, PHM’s Taylor Barnard brought the gap to Antonelli down to 0.278s, then Meguetounif trimmed it to 0.256s.
Neither could lap sub-1m51s however, something both Antonelli and Camara did on their next laps. Camara set a 1m50.895s to briefly get within 0.056s of his team-mate, only for Antonelli to improve and sit on provisional pole by 0.592s going into the final five minutes.
Barnard lapped 0.130s slower than Antonelli to regain second, with Boya jumping from last to third with a 50.493s after his previous best lap had been deleted. Marti meanwhile went from 10th to last as his last lap was lost to a track limits violation.
After a lap of cooling the tyres, the next set of flying laps came in after the chequered flag had waved. Antonelli found even more pace to take pole by 0.211s over Barnard, and Camara improved but was shuffled down to sixth by Meguetounif and Bedrin.
Marti and Stenshorne ended up qualifying on the sixth row of the grid, while Alpine junior Nikola Tsolov – being co-run by R&B and Global Racing Service – qualified 19th for his FRegional debut.
Track limits abuse played an even bigger part of proceedings in Q2, with several drivers topping the times before being knocked to the bottom for going beyond the white lines.
R&B’s Cenyu Han was fastest at first, before Hyderabad Blackbirds’ Brad Benavides set a 1m52.385s to lead the way. Maschio went two tenths faster, then Boya knocked almost a second off the pace until his lap was deleted and Mumbai Falcons’ Lorenzo Fluxa was promoted into first place.
PHM’s Joshua Dufek and Bedrin were first to break into the 1m50s, but Dufek had exceeded track limits and it put Meguetounif on pole.
Bedrin knocked him off top spot with a 50.296s lap, with Antonelli going 0.058s slower to move into second place. They held those positions through the final five minutes of Q2, with Camara nabbing third place from Boya with 30s to go.
Race 1 grid
1 Andrea Kimi Antonelli Mumbai Falcons 1m50.222s
2 Taylor Barnard PHM Racing +0.211s
3 Mari Boya Hyderabad Blackbirds +0.271s
4 Sami Meguetounif Hyderabad Blackbirds +0.481s
5 Nikita Bedrin PHM Racing +0.663s
6 Rafael Camara Mumbai Falcons +0.673s
7 Lorenzo Fluxa Mumbai Falcons +0.718s
8 Joshua Dufek PHM Racing +0.775s
9 Nikhil Bohra R-ace GP +0.796s
10 Aiden Neate Prema +0.917s
Race 3 grid
1 Bedrin 1m50.296s
2 Antonelli +0.013s
3 Camara +0.149s
4 Boya +0.232s
5 Kirill Smal Mumbai Falcons +0.437s
6 Barnard +0.468s
7 Meguetounif +0.472s
8 Dufek +0.524s
9 Owen Tangavelou Hyderabad Blackbirds +0.533s
10 Tim Tramnitz R-ace GP +0.600s