Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli took his first Formula Regional win in the opening race of the Middle East championship’s third round at Kuwait Motor Town.
Antonelli started fourth behind the Hyderabad Blackbirds powered by MP trio of Joshua Duerksen, Sami Meguetounif and Mari Boya, who managed to almost entirely ruin their races at the start.
Boya went on the inside of his team-mates – by actually going off the track – on the run to turn two to take the lead while Duerksen and Meguetounif collided at the corner and spun down the order.
Despite a thick layer of fog covering the circuit and reducing visibility, the safety car was not summoned and Boya spent the first five laps keeping Antonelli behind.
On lap six Antonelli made use of the slipstream on the long run to turn two to pass Boya for the lead, and a lap later the safety car was finally summoned (after being a mainstay in the all the races over the last week) as Pinnacle VAR’s debuting Ayato Iwasaki stopped on track.
With the worsening fog, there was no restart until lap 12 and Antonelli had to hold off Boya at turn two and then also after the chicane as he got crossed up and it enabled Boya to get alongside on the outside and Mumbai Falcons team-mate Rafael Camara to also attack for the lead.
Antonelli ended the lap ahead, with Boya 1.234 seconds behind and Camara a further three tenths back. After that, Antonelli raced away and took victory by 2.383s, while Camara got ahead of Boya to finish second.
Camara had established himself in third early on, while there was frantic battling for fourth initially between Nikita Bedrin and Rafael Villagomez. Lorenzo Fluxa got himself involved and passed Villagomez, then Bedrin got put under investigation for going off at turn four.
Villagomez got back by Fluxa, then Bedrin got some breathing room as Taylor Barnard came through the fog to pass Sami Meguetounif and Fluxa at turn two before chasing down Villagomez and putting him under pressure too.
After the safety car period, Barnard got ahead of Villagomez into fifth and took two laps before also passing Bedrin for fourth into turn two.
Fluxa regained sixth from Villagomez on the final lap and even challenged Bedrin again, and Aiden Neate escaped a lengthy battle with Kirill Smal late on to pass Joshua Dufek and finish eighth.
Race result (15 laps)
|Andrea Kimi Antonelli
|Fastest lap: Barnard, 1m48.364s