Home Formula 4Italian F4 Niko Lacorte escapes battling pursuers to take maiden Italian F4 win

Niko Lacorte escapes battling pursuers to take maiden Italian F4 win

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: ACI Sport

Prema’s Nicola Lacorte put in a composed performance to take victory in the third Italian Formula 4 race at Imola.

Starting alone on the front row after poleman Ugo Ugochukwu had been eliminated in a horrific start line crash that required the race to be restarted, Lacorte took an immediate lead and was never seriously challenged.

Behind him, his pursuers led by Red Bull junior Arvid Lindblad battled amongst themselves allowing Lacorte to build up a gap of over two seconds.

Lindblad led a train of four cars comprising Van Amersfoort Racing pair Brando Badoer and Ivan Domingues, and Prema’s Ferrari junior James Wharton who had rapidly closed onto their tails in the early laps.

Wharton was able to put pressure on Domingues, drawing alongside as they passed the pits at the end of lap four. The Australian tried in vain to find a way through at Tamburello and later at Piratella, allowing Badoer to pull away slightly and to think about challenging Lindblad.

Coming into Tamburello on lap 12, Badoer tried to find a way past Lindblad around outside into corner, but carrying too much speed was unable to make the corner.

Badoer was launched over the kerbs, flying across the gravel and fortunate to be able to continue having lost just one place to team-mate Domingues when he rejoined the track.

Behind the front five, a separate race-long battle between PHM Racing’s Valentin Kluss and R-ace GP’s Matteo De Palo went Kluss’s way, although they were 5.6s adrift of Wharton at the finish.

The first start had been aborted after a horrific accident as Prema’s Ugochukwu stalled on the grid with a clutch issue and was collected by BVM Racing’s Andrea Frassineti.

Starting back on the 11th row, Frassineti was left unsighted by Davide Larini’s AKM Motorsport-run car directly in front of him, and he struck the back of Ugochukwu’s car with force, flipping onto the roll hoop and skating down the track before coming to a stop on its side. The race was immediately red flagged, and both drivers appeared to escape injury.

After a 25-minute delay, and with the race shortened by five minutes, the cars reassembled for a second standing start and an interruption-free race.

Race result (13 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Niko Lacorte Prema 22m49.182s
2 Arvid Lindblad Prema +2.290s
3 Ivan Domingues Van Amersfoort Racing +3.002s
4 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing +3.430s
5 James Wharton Prema +3.625s
6 Valentin Kluss PHM Racing +9.263s
7 Matteo de Palo R-ace GP +9.603s
8 Nandhavud Bhirombhakdi PHM Racing +15.881s
9 James Egozi PHM Racing +16.287s
10 Jack Beeton Van Amersfoort Racing +17.108s
11 Gianmarco Pradel US Racing +18.810s
12 Kim Hwarang Jenzer Motorsport +20.940s
13 Matteo Quintarelli R-ace GP +21.301s
14 Jesse Carrasquedo Jr BVM Racing +22.412s
15 Raphael Narac R-ace GP +22.678s
16 Matheus Ferreira Van Amersfoort Racing +22.934s
17 Griffin Peebles AKM Motorsport +24.575s
18 Davide Larini AKM Motorsport +25.634s
19 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport +28.665s
20 Finn Wiebelhaus AS Motorsport +38.100s
21 Guido Luchetti Airflow Racing +40.445s
Ret Ruiqu Liu US Racing
Ret Ariel Elkin Jenzer Motorsport
Ret Andrea Frassineti BVM Racing
Ret Ugo Ugochukwu Prema
Fastest lap: Wharton, 1m44.658s

Championship standings
1 Lacorte 40   2 Lindblad 36   3 Badoer 30   4 Domingues 27   =5 Kacper Sztuka & Ugochukwu 25   7 Zachary David 23   8 Alfio Spina 20   9 Kluss 16   10 Akshay Bohra 12