Hyderabad Blackbirds powered by MP pair Joshua Duerksen and Sami Meguetounif topped Formula Regional Middle East qualifying at Kuwait Motor Town.
Through much of Q1 the pace was set by Andrea Kimi Antonelli, who usually improved with each lap.
His Mumbai Falcons team-mate Dino Beganovic set the first benchmark, and Antonelli comfortably eclipsed it to go half a second clear of other team-mate Rafael Camara.
Pinnacle VAR’s Niels Koolen briefly went 0.155s faster than Antonelli, but was shuffled down the order when the rest of the pack crossed the line.
Antonelli regained top spot by 0.543s over Beganovic, with Camara and Pinnacle’s Pepe Marti the only others within a second of him, and he improved by 0.005s next time by.
PHM Racing’s drivers came out on track at this point and immediately shot up the order, with Barnard getting within a tenth of Antonelli to slot into second ahead of Duerksen, his own team-mate Joshua Dufek and Duerksen’s team-mate Sami Meguetounif.
With three-and-a-half minutes remaining, Meguetounif lapped 0.085s off Antonelli’s benchmark, and the provisional poleman failed to improve next time by.
He was denied pole just after the chequered flag, as Duerksen posted a 1m47.676s that put him 0.043s ahead.
The next best driver to improve at the end was Mumbai Falcons’ Lorenzo Fluxa, who rose to sixth, and Camara and Beganovic also got faster but could do no better than eighth and ninth ahead of Hitech GP’s debuting Luke Browning.
Prema’s Michael Shin was the surprise early pacesetter of Q2, with Camara then laying down a 1m49.954s benchmark.
There was not a representative pace set by many drivers at first, with Beganovic scrubbing 0.061s off of his team-mate’s time while most had not even lapped sub-1m52s going into the final seven minutes.
There was then a flurry of improvements, with Camara returning to the top by 0.094s over Marti. Browning and Aiden Neate went third and fourth, and Shin improved in fifth.
The Hyderabad Blackbirds drivers followed the pack a little later and their strategy resulted in the trio filling the top three places with Meguetounif leading Duerksen and Brad Benavides.
PHM left it late again, and this time it looked costly as Nikita Bedrin struck trouble on his first flying lap and caused Q2 to be red-flagged with five minutes remaining.
Following the restart, the first improvements (and laps from Bedrin’s PHM team-mates) came in the last minute.
Antonelli and Camara went third and fourth fastest, with team-mates Beganovic and Fluxa slotting into sixth and seventh. Barnard then got within a tenth of Meguetounif to go second as the chequered flag appeared, with Marti rising to sixth.
There was still time for one more lap, and Antonelli pipped Meguetounif by 0.015s. Camara and Fluxa went fifth and sixth, and Beganovic improved to ninth.
However Antonelli, Boya, Camara and Shin had their last laps deleted for track limits abuse, handing Meguetounif pole and dropping Antonelli to fourth, Camara to ninth and Boya from eigith to 25th.
Race 1 grid
1 Joshua Duerksen Hyderabad Blackbirds 1m47.676s
2 Andrea Kimi Antonelli Mumbai Falcons +0.043s
3 Sami Meguetounif Hyderabad Blackbirds +0.128s
4 Taylor Barnard PHM Racing +0.140s
5 Joshua Dufek PHM Racing +0.343s
6 Lorenzo Fluxa Mumbai Falcons +0.354s
7 Mari Boya Hyderabad Blackbirds +0.409s
8 Rafael Camara Mumbai Falcons +0.409s
9 Dino Beganovic Mumbai Falcons +0.452s
10 Luke Browning Hitech GP +0.585s
Race 3 grid
1 Meguetounif 1m47.230s
2 Barnard +0.094s
3 Duerksen +0.206s
4 Antonelli +0.311s
5 Fluxa +0.508s
6 Pepe Marti Pinnacle VAR +0.576s
7 Beganovic +0.752s
8 Brad Benavides Hyderabad Blackbirds +0.754s
9 Camara +0.993s
10 Aiden Neate Prema +1.087s