Open Formula Challenge, the series for Formula Regional and Formula 4 cars in China launched last year, has announced plans for a five-round season in 2023.
There was only one event held in 2022, at Zhuhai last September, and the organiser Top Speed (who also promote FRegional Middle East) allowed cars built for Formula Abarth (the category that preceded FIA F4) and Formula Renault 2.0 to compete.
It had initially launched a year ago with plans for a four-round season based primarily at Zhuhai. That did not proceed to happen, and Zhuhai’s own Circuit Formula Hero Race series also failed to get off the ground, while many of the FR2.0 owners went to race their cars in FR Super Challenge, the successor to the longlived Asian FR series.
There were five FRegional cars and two FR2.0 cars that raced in the one Open Formula Challenge event that did take place.
TRT Racing’s Gao Yujia took pole by over a second and comfortably converted that into race one victory. He had a lead of 1.6 seconds afer two laps, and had grown that past three seconds before a crash led to the safety car being summoned.
Racing resumed with a few laps remaining and Yujia immediately pulled away by 1.5s. He was almost three seconds clear again when he met the chequered flag, with R&B Racing’s Zhongwei Wang in second place and Asia Racing Team’s Li Zhicong winning the FR2.0 class in third overall. Lu Weilin passed Lou Ray after the safety car period to finish fourth.
Yujia took pole again for race two, this time by 0.141s over Wang. The latter stalled at the start sent him to the back, and Weilin inherited second place.
Over the course of the race, Wang managed to catch back up with the field make his way through the order until a failed move for Zhicong on third led to a collision and his race ending in the gravel trap at turn seven.
The safety car was called out while his car was retrieved, and the top two broke away from the rest of the field when racing resumed. Zhicong held third after the crash, but following the restart was pressured by Lin Nan and eventually passed by him. Weilin closed in on Yujia at the end but was not close enough to pass, meaning the latter won again.
Top Speed plans for the same event format of two qualifying sessions and two races lasting 23 minutes plus one lap to be used in 2023, with the target for F4 cars to fill the secondary class. There is already a national F4 championship in China.
The first full Open FChallenge season will start on April 14-16 at Shanghai, which is set to welcome back single-seater racing after being unable to host events in 2022. Round two will also be held at the circuit on May 12-14, Ningbo will host round three on June 23-25 and two weeks later the series heads to Zhuzhou for round four.
A location and date is yet to be confirmed for the fifth and final round of the year, while there is a possibility that Top Speed will organise races in China later in 2023 for the FRegional Asian Championship.