Home Formula RegionalFRegional Middle East Antonelli on top in qualifyng as FRegional Middle East returns to Dubai

Antonelli on top in qualifyng as FRegional Middle East returns to Dubai

by Ida Wood

Photo: FRME

Andrea Kimi Antonelli was first and second in the two Formula Regional Middle East qualifying sessions at Dubai Autodrome.

In both of the 15-minute sessions it took a long time before anyone set a lap, with only six drivers having set laps in Q1 after six minutes had passed. Giovanni Maschio was the early pacesetter, then Daniel Mavylutov and Tasanapol Inthtraphuvasak lowered the pace into sub-two minute laps.

Mari Boya was the sixth to set a flying lap and he went fastest in the session’s second half, with a flurry of cars then crossing the line after him to record a representative pace.

Hyderabad Blackbirds powered by MP driver Sami Meguetounif was quickest before Rafael Camara set a 1m55.762s lap to go top, then Joshua Dufek went 0.439 seconds faster and Taylor Barnard slotted into second place before red flags were waved with six minutes and 11 seconds remaining after Niels Koolen struck trouble on track.

At this point Antonelli was 11th, and it looked like he would remain there until the final minute. The first flying lap to be set post-restart was by Sebastian Montoya, and that was with two minutes to go, then with 93 seconds remaining several drivers rose up the order in the top 10.

Camara regained top spot with 72s left on the clock, posting a 1m55.298s lap, then with 50s to go Antonelli recorded a 1m55.032s. Dufek improved in second shortly after and Barnard also went faster in fourth before the chequered flag came out.

Although he found more pace with his final lap, Camara could not improve from third place and his Mumbai Falcons team-mate Antonelli went a tenth faster to secure his second pole position of the season.

R-ace GP’s debuting Tim Tramnitz qualified sixth, and late improvements from others shuffled the returning Pepe Marti down to 12th. Frontrunners Lorenzo Fluxa and Nikhil Bohra could only qualify 14th and 19th respectively.

Q2 followed a similar pattern, with Maschio first to set a lap and sitting on top of the timesheet for the session’s first half.

Camara was the driver who knocked him off the top, setting a 1m55.143s, then a minute later Boya broke into the 1m54s. Nikita Bedrin and Dufek quickly bettered him, and going into the final five minutes it was a PHM Racing one-two while Antonelli was down in 23rd place.

He jumped up to second place with four minutes to go, but could not improve any further and it meant Bedrin took pole by 0.066s over the championship leader.

Dufek and Boya filled row two, with Barnard, Fluxa, Camara, Brad Benavides, Marti and Sebastian Ogaard completing the top 10. Bohra qualified down in 13th place.

Qualifying round-up
Race 1 grid
1 Andrea Kimi Antonelli Mumbai Falcons 1m54.907s
2 Joshua Dufek PHM Racing +0.236s
3 Rafael Camara Mumbai Falcons +0.391s
4 Taylor Barnard PHM Racing +0.408s
5 Nikita Bedrin PHM Racing +0.617s
6 Tim Tramnitz R-ace GP +0.733s
7 Sami Meguetounif Hyderabad Blackbirds +0.776s
8 Mari Boya Hyderabad Blackbirds +0.818s
9 Brad Benavides Hyderabad Blackbirds +0.824s
10 Aiden Neate Prema +0.853s

Race 3 grid
1 Bedrin 1m54.428s
2 Antonelli +0.066s
3 Dufek +0.222s
4 Boya +0.349s
5 Barnard +0.359s
6 Lorenzo Fluxa Mumbai Falcons +0.504s
7 Camara +0.556s
8 Benavides +0.706s
9 Pepe Marti Pinnacle VAR +0.762s
10 Sebastian Ogaard Hyderabad Blackbirds +0.766s