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FRegional Middle East series created via rebrand and tweaked calendar

by Ida Wood

Photo: FRAC

Formula Regional Asian Championship promoter Top Speed has relaunched its plans for the 2023 season by creating a new championship.

FRAC was launched in 2018 with races in China and Malaysia, and in 2019 added Japan and Thailand to the schedue. China and Japan were swapped out in 2020 for the United Arab Emirates, where the series has raced exclusively ever since.

For next year it had added a round in another Middle Eastern country, Kuwait, but a recent calendar revision has come alongside a relaunching of the series; for 2023 there will be a FRegional Middle East Championship, taking on the set of races that FRAC would have done.

The five-round series’ first official event will be a pre-season test at Dubai Autodrome on January 9/10, with the inaugural FRMEC races taking place at the track on January 13/14.

The change from the original schedule for FRAC is that round two at Yas Marina Circuit on January 21/22 has been swapped out for what will now be the first ever visit to Kuwait Motor Town on January 27/28.

Kuwait appears again on February 1-3, which was originally set to be the first trip to a country which will only hold international car racing for the first time this December, then the season concludes with rounds at Dubai (February 11/12) and Yas Marina (February 18/19).

“We are delighted to announce the creation of the Formula Regional Middle East Championship,” said Davide De Gobbi, general manager of series promoter Top Speed.

“The enormous success of FRAC held here over recent seasons has shown the Middle East is a burgeoning centre for junior single-seater motorsport, and we believe a dedicated championship will further strengthen this position.

“FRAC will resume in Southeast Asia when circumstances permit, and details of the venues and calendar will be announced at that time.”

A full announcement on the relaunched 2023 season from Top Speed is expected soon.

As Formula 4 UAE supports FRMEC at every event, it means it will also be swapping out Abu Dhabi for Kuwait that weekend. It will be getting underway with a non-championship round at Yas Marina supporting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 18-20.

Swiss team Maffi Racing is one of the European additions to the F4 UAE grid for 2023, while the new Yas Marina-based Yas Heat Racing has announced its line-up.

Yas Heat started off as an Esports squad, and partnered with successful F4 UAE team Xcel Motorsport to run an academy programme and a recent shootout to choose its F4 drivers. The winners of that were Emirati karter Keanu Al Azhari and Italy’s Matteo Quintarelli.

Al Azhari won the fifth running of the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy shootout to earn a paid-for seat in Spanish F4 next year, and half of the funds required for the F4 UAE campaign will be paid for by Yas Heat.

In 2022, the 14-year-old factory Tony Kart driver Al Azhari has raced on OK and KZ2 shifter karts, his rookie year in both, coming 36th in the CIK-FIA European Karting Championship and 43rd in the World championship. Last year he was ninth in the Champions of the Future series on OK-Junior karts and 24th in the European championship.

Quintarelli, aged 15, has spent the majority of his karting career in the Middle East. He was 37th in last year’s IAME Euro Series for X30 Junior karts, then second in the UAE Series in the 2021-22 season.