Home Formula 4Italian F4 Dunne fends off Wharton to win chaotic first Italian F4 race in Austria

Dunne fends off Wharton to win chaotic first Italian F4 race in Austria

by Ida Wood

Photo: ACI Sport

US Racing’s Alex Dunne held off Prema’s James Wharton to win a chaotic first Italian Formula 4 race of the weekend at the Red Bull Ring.

Dunne and Wharton started third and fifth on what was a wet track, with Prema’s Rafael Camara and debuting Ugo Ugochukwu filling the front row.

PHM Racing’s Taylor Barnard was fourth on the grid, but made a great start to immediately attack Ugochukwu. He got through into second, and Dunne was then able to attack Ugochukwu while also trying not to lose to Wharton.

Their fight was neutralised pretty quickly though as chaos ensued behind. PHM Racing’s Nikita Bedrin spun AKM Motorsport’s Valerio Rinicella at Turn 3, then Van Amersfoort Racing’s Martinius Stenshorne ran deep at turn four, leading to Iron Lynx’s Iron Domingues spinning and then going backwards into the path of BVM Racing’s new signing Alfio Spina.

US Racing’s Marcus Amand also came to a stop after running off, and only after almost causing a pile-up at Turn 6, and Stenshorne picked up a right-rear puncture that required him to pit.

The resultant safety car period lasted until the end of lap four, by which point the sun had come out, and Barnard took the lead exiting Turn 3 on lap five as Camara ran wide. Camara then made at Turn 4 to try to reclaim the place, and he, Barnard and Dunne were then three-wide going into Turn 6.

Camara ended up losing his front wing as they tried entering the corner together, Barnard also picked up damage and plummeted down the order, and Dunne emerged as the leader ahead of Wharton, US Racing’s Nikhil Bohra and Ugochukwu.

Both Camara and Barnard were able to make it to the pits for repairs, but were now both way out of points contention.

Ugochukwu passed Bohra for third at Turn 3 on lap six, and set about pursuing the top two who were also getting closer together. Initially Dunne had a gap of just under a second to Wharton, but he halved that before they spent several laps fighting almost wheel-to-wheel for the lead.

Dunne’s defensive work not only kept him ahead but also enabled Ugochukwu to home in on the quicker, and once he started attacking Wharton in the last few laps it gave Dunne a little bit of breathing room. On the last lap the battle for second got really tense, and meant Dunne could break away by 2.5s for his second win of the season.

Wharton just held off Ugochukwu for second, and Bohra finished a distant fifth after being passed by a charging Bedrin who had also got by R-ace GP’s Adam Fitzgerald.

Stenshorne made an impressive recovery to seventh place, Cetilar Racing’s Iron Lynx-run single-seater debutant Niko Lacorte scored a point in 10th with an impressive drive and fellow debutant Arvid Lindblad finished 15th for VAR.

Camara claimed fastest lap down in 18th place.

Race result (16 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Alex Dunne US Racing 26m38.287s
2 James Wharton Prema +2.505s
3 Ugo Ugochukwu Prema +2.775s
4 Nikita Bedrin PHM Racing +4.052s
5 Nikhil Bohra US Racing +5.806s
6 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing +8.808s
7 Martinius Stenshorne Van Amersfoort Racing +13.496s
8 Adam Fitzgerald R-ace GP +17.340s
9 Jules Castro Van Amersfoort Racing +18.193s
10 Niko Lacorte Cetilar Racing by Iron Lynx +20.546s
11 Jonas Ried PHM Racing +20.890s
12 Victoria Blokhina PHM Racing +21.109s
13 Pedro Perino US Racing +21.287s
14 Valentin Kluss Jenzer Motorsport +21.578s
15 Arvid Lindblad Van Amersfoort Racing +22.554s
16 Elia Sperandio Maffi Racing +26.307s
17 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport +30.284s
18 Rafael Camara Prema +38.162s
19 Giovanni Maschio AS Motorsport +40.074s
20 Andrea Frassineti Cars Racing +59.139s
21 Ismail Akhmed AKM Motorsport +59.321s
22 Taylor Barnard PHM Racing +1m02.260s
Ret Ivan Domingues Iron Lynx
Ret Alfio Spina BVM Racing
Ret Marcus Amand US Racing
Ret Valerio Rinicella AKM Motorsport
Fastest lap: Camara, 1m31.857s

Championship standings
Antonelli 219   2 Camara 183   3 Dunne 157   4 Wharton 130   5 Wurz 104   6 Sztuka 88   7 Amand 83   8 Barnard 69   9 Stenshorne 58   10 Bedrin 66