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Monolite Racing expected to withdraw from FREC

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: FRECA

Monolite Racing is expected to be absent from the 2024 Formula Regional European Championship grid.

The Italian outfit has raced in FREC since 2020, and would be the second team to drop out this year as earlier this month Arden’s Garry Horner confirmed to Formula Scout that his team would no longer remain in the championship.

Monolite had been racing to raise a budget for the season, and had been in discussions with GB3 race-winner James Hedley and French Formula 4 race-winner Kevin Foster.

Having missed the opening pre-season test at Barcelona, the team had been hopeful of fielding two cars for this week’s test at Paul Ricard. However, with no sign of the team’s cars on track in France, Formula Scout understands that the team has been unable to generate funding to allow it to compete this season.

The team is not currently planning to sell its cars and is understood to be working on a testing programme.

Monolite was established in 2004 by Rudi Mariotto, who is the team principal, and competed in Formula Abarth and the Austrian Formula 3 Cup before arriving in FREC. It competed with one car in 2020, expanded to two in 2021 and then to three in 2022.

The team had only recorded one top-five finish prior to last season, and the drivers it ran last year all failed to score. Kirill Smal showed promise in testing but was replaced mid-season by the experienced Hadrien David, as the team sought to develop its car. Nikita Bedrin then took over the seat at Zandvoort, and finished the two races there ninth and fifth but as a guest driver was ineligible for points.

Despite losing two teams, FREC still has a 32-car grid for 2024. There are eight teams running three-car line ups, and two who are allowed to field a fourth car for F1 Academy graduates. Prema’s additional entry is driven by champion Marta Garcia, who has recently received Iron Dames’ backing, and ART Grand Prix has Lena Buhler in its four-strong line-up.

The championship regulations permit the participation of additional wildcard entries “depending on the number of cars entered, the configuration of the track, and the overall level of driving standards during previous events”.

Each team is allowed to enter such a car for a maximum of three events, although this figure can be reduced to two or one if there are more than 30 full-season entries, as is the case this year.

Formula Scout understands that at least one team has approached championship organisers about being able to run a fourth car on a more permanent basis.