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Leclerc extends FRAC points lead with third win

by Jordan Edwards

Photo: FRAC

Arthur Leclerc has extended his points lead in the Formula Regional Asian Championship, taking victory after battling with fellow Formula 1 junior Paul Aron.

Mercedes-AMG junior Aron qualified on pole and was immediately under pressure at the start but able to hold onto the lead initially from Mumbai Falcons’ Leclerc and Dino Beganovic, who were also trying to fend off their title rival Isack Hadjar.

Within a lap, Aron had stretched out a gap of over seven tenths of a second to Leclerc. However, the gap closed over the next few laps.

Leclerc attempted to overtake on the inside of turn one once he was close enough to attack, but Aron held onto the lead despite going off the track. Ferrari junior Leclerc then passed in the following corners to take over up front.

Meanwhile Hadjar had come under increasing pressure and was then passed for fourth by his Hitech GP team-mate Gabriele Mini. There was a battle behind them too, with Ollie Bearman and Pepe Marti squabbling and being chased by Patrik Pasma.

A place was gained by Pasma, while Bearman made a trip to the pits on lap seven of 15 and rejoined outside of the points. That freed Marti to hunt down Hadjar, with Michael Belov and later Jak Crawford and Pasma doing the same and as Hadjar dropped down the order he fell out of title contention.

As Hadjar’s title hopes expired, Beganovic’s race did the same as he slowed from third place and later retired. That promoted Mini to the podium, but a post-race penalty then knocked him back down the order and put Marti in third.

With Leclerc taking a comfortable win ahead of Aron, it means he now has a 40-point lead over Marti going into the final round. There is still a five-way fight for the title runner-up spot.

Race result (15 laps)
Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Arthur Leclerc Mumbai Falcons 31m12.558s
2 Paul Aron Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema +5.137s
3 Pepe Marti Pinnacle Motorsport +15.643s
4 Gabriele Mini Hitech GP +15.580s
5 Michael Belov Evans GP +15.900s
6 Jak Crawford Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema +16.068s
7 Patrik Pasma Evans GP +21.036s
8 Ido Cohen BlackArts Racing +22.915s
9 Francesco Braschi 3Y by R-ace GP +24.519s
10 Isack Hadjar Hitech GP +26.209s
11 Pierre-Louis Chovet BlackArts Racing +29.774s
12 Dilano van’t Hoff Pinnacle Motorsport +29.978s
13 Nicola Marinangeli Evans GP +30.822s
14 Oliver Goethe 3Y by R-ace GP +32.039s
15 Lena Buhler 3Y by R-ace GP +32.245s
16 Lorenzo Fluxa 3Y by R-ace GP +33.148s
17 Levente Revesz Evans GP Academy +42.300s
18 Hamda Al Qubaisi Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema +42.918s
19 David Morales Evans GP Academy +43.556s
20 Amna Al Qubaisi Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema +1m01.543s
21 Khaled Al Qubaisi Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema +1m05.305s
22 Thomas Luedi BlackArts Racing +1m07.017s
23 Ayato Iwasaki Pinnacle Motorsport +1m23.657s
24 Ollie Bearman Mumbai Falcons +1m33.167s
25 Owen Tangavelou Hitech GP +1m40.974s
Ret Salih Yoluc Pinnacle Motorsport
Ret Dino Beganovic Mumbai Falcons
Fastest lap: Beganovic, 1m56.364s

Championship standings
1 Leclerc 178   2 Marti 138   3 Hadjar 97   4 Sebastian Montoya 92   5 Beganovic 88   6 Crawford 86   7 Mini 83   8 Hadrien David 64   9 Fluxa 58   10 Aron 55