Home Featured Beganovic wins FRMEC’s inaugural race after intense Mini fight

Beganovic wins FRMEC’s inaugural race after intense Mini fight

by Ida Wood

Photo: Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Photo Agency

Formula Regional Middle East’s inaugural race was won by the category’s European champion Dino Beganovic in thrilling style at Dubai Autodrome.

Poleman Gabriele Mini swerved several times down the pit straight at the start, preventing Andrea Kimi Antonelli from trying to make a move.

There was actually little action in the top half of the field on lap one, but further back PHM Racing’s Taylor Bard was on the charge from 27th and last on the grid and he was 17th by the end of the lap.

Barnard had been disqualified from the second qualifying session, yet was put to the back of the race one grid which is based on the Q1 laptimes. Reported mechanical problems also meant Zhongwei Wang was unable to take part in the day’s action.

On lap two Barnard made up only one place, while Dino Beganovic passed Mumbai Falcons team-mate Antonelli and then set fastest lap in his chase of leader Mini.

Barnard’s rise up the order came to a stop in 12th place when the safety car was summoned on lap six due to the car of R-ace GP’s Levente Revesz coming to a halt. He was able to get going again and return to the pits, meaning the safety car was only out for a lap.

The focus of the action following the restart was once again Barnard, who battled past Hitech’s Jak Crawford who was twice warned for track limits abuse. He was then attacking Aiden Neate when the race got put under safety car conditions again following a huge crash at turn one.

Nikita Bedrin and Sami Meguetounif had gone into the corner side-by-side and interlocked wheels, sending Meguetounif’s car airborne and them slamming into the barriers nose-first at speed. He also tagged Bedrin’s team-mate Joshua Dufek, who had passed him the previous lap, as his out-of-control car hurtled towards the tyre wall.

That promoted Barnard to seventh, and there was even more action during the second safety car period as Cenyu Han slowed and fell to the back, Brad Benavides pitted with an issue and then Crawford got put under investigation after he lost places but chose to make up all but one of them before reaching the safety car line for the restart.

Barnard made a move for sixth on the restart lap, and cleared Antonelli and team-mate Rafael Camara on the penultimate lap which began with Beganovic trying to pass Mini on the outside of turn one.

Beganovic had more pace but couldn’t get alongside long enough to then brake later into the next corner, with the exact same thing happening several times around the lap. They made contact once, then out of the final corner Mini swerved to cover the inside. Beganovic was almost forced into the pit wall and they went into the final lap 0.014 seconds apart.

But Beganovic and the chasing Matias Zagazeta then got past Mini before turn one, and he dropped down to sixth by the chequered flag. Beganovic won, with Barnard completing a remarkable recovery drive to finish on the podium in third.

Some time after the race, Crawford was in fact penalised three positions in the race result. The stewards also hit Mini with a five-place penalty to 11th, ensuring he did not score and would not benefit from race two’s reversal of the top 10 to form the grid.

Race results (14 laps)

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Dino Beganovic Mumbai Falcons 31m29.836s
2 Matias Zagazeta R-ace GP +1.140s
3 Taylor Barnard PHM Racing +3.298s
4 Andrea Kimi Antonelli Mumbai Falcons +3.756s
5 Rafael Camara Mumbai Falcons +4.489s
6 Joshua Dufek PHM Racing +7.168s
7 Sebastian Ogaard Hyderabad Blackbirds +7.242s
8 Lorenzo Fluxa Mumbai Falcons +7.433s
9 Aiden Neate Prema +7.774s
10 Nikhil Bohra R-ace GP +8.068s
11 Gabriele Mini Hitech GP +6.398s
12 Mari Boya Hyderabad Blackbirds +8.329s
13 Francesco Braschi R-ace GP +8.696s
14 Pepe Marti Pinnacle VAR +8.909s
15 Sebastian Montoya Hitech GP +9.761s
16 Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak Pinnacle VAR +11.715s
17 Rafael Villagomez Pinnacle VAR +11.897s
18 Michael Shin Prema +13.107s
19 Jak Crawford Hitech GP +11.217s
20 Giovanni Maschio R&B Racing +13.791s
21 Cenyu Han R&B Racing +13.968s
22 Niels Koolen Pinnacle VAR +15.399s
23 Daniel Mavlyutov Hitech GP +17.114s
24 Brad Benavides Hyderabad Blackbirds +17.321s
Ret Sami Meguetounif Hyderabad Blackbirds
Ret Nikita Bedrin PHM Racing
Ret Levente Revesz R-ace GP
Fastest lap: Beganovic, 1m56.192s