Home Formula RegionalFRegional Middle East Pepe Marti dominates for his first FRegional win at Dubai

Pepe Marti dominates for his first FRegional win at Dubai

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: FRME

Pinnacle VAR’s Pepe Marti claimed a lights-to-flag victory in an action-packed Formula Regional Middle East race at Dubai Autodrome.

It was the Fernando Alonso protege’s maiden FRegional win, despite being the 2022 Asian championship runner-up.

Reversed-grid polesitter Marti held on to the lead at the start as countryman Lorenzo Fluxa overtook Prema’s Aiden Neate around the outside of turn one for second place.

Taylor Barnard had rose from eighth to sixth on lap one, and tried to pass PHM Racing team-mate Nikita Bedrin at turn one of lap two but was denied.

Pinnacle VAR’s Niels Koolen sent R&B Racing’s Giovanni Maschio into a spin in the air after clipping the rear of the latter as they exited the last corner alongside each other. Maschio was able to pit for a new front wing, whereas Koolen pulled off at the pit exit.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli was another soon making up places. After dropping one place to 11th at the start, the Mumbai Falcons driver got past team-mate Rafael Camara and then Hyderabad Blackbirds powered by MP driver Brad Benavides.

Camara and Kiril Small would benefit from Antonelli’s move and also overtook Benavides, who then came under pressure from Hitech GP’s Sebastian Montoya.

Antonelli kept progressing, diving into the inside of PHM’s Joshua Dufek at turn 10 halfway through the race for eighth. Further ahead, PHM’s Nikita Bedrin overtook R-ace GP’s Tim Tramnitz for fourth, and started to chase down Neate as Marti led comfortably.

After several laps of trying, Barnard also passed Tramnitz around the outside of turn 10. Mari Boya and Antonelli quickly followed, and Tramnitz tried to regain his place on Antonelli into turn one. The championship leader closed the door and he had to use the run-off, meaning Tramnitz lost out to Dufek too.

With one lap to go, Kirill Smal attempted a move on team-mate Camara for 10th, but hit him and broke his rear-right suspension.

Bedrin had closed the gap on Neate, and in the last lap he also went for a desperate move at turn 10. Bedrin hit the rear of Neate, who spun round. Neate was able to rejoin and finish sixth, whereas Bedrin ended up in 12th place. Barnard inherited a podium finish as a result, with Antonelli only one place behind in fourth.

Both of the late incidents are being investigated post-race.

Race result (16 laps)

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Pepe Marti Pinnacle VAR 31m19.641s
2 Lorenzo Fluxa Mumbai Falcons +1.197s
3 Taylor Barnard PHM Racing +6.906s
4 Andrea Kimi Antonelli Mumbai Falcons +10.954s
5 Mari Boya Hyderabad Blackbirds +11.484s
6 Aiden Neate Prema +14.206s
7 Joshua Dufek PHM Racing +14.750s
8 Tim Tramnitz R-ace GP +15.922s
9 Kirill Smal Mumbai Falcons +16.437s
10 Sebastian Montoya Hitech GP +17.922s
11 Martinius Stenshorne R-ace GP +18.233s
12 Nikita Bedrin PHM Racing +22.424s
13 Brad Benavides Hyderabad Blackbirds +22.509s
14 Levente Revesz R-ace GP +22.868s
15 Nikhil Bohra R-ace GP +23.642s
16 Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak Pinnacle VAR +25.026s
17 Michael Shin Prema +26.826s
18 Sebastian Ogaard Hyderabad Blackbirds +29.557s
19 Sami Meguetounif Hyderabad Blackbirds +32.178s
20 Cenyu Han R&B Racing +35.923s
21 Rafael Villagomez Pinnacle VAR +39.174s
22 Daniel Mavylutov Hitech GP +45.222s
NC Rafael Camara Mumbai Falcons +1 lap
Ret Giovanni Maschio R&B Racing
Ret Niels Koolen Pinnacle VAR
Fastest lap: Barnard, 1m56.941s

Championship standings
1 Antonelli 173   2 Barnard 122   3 Camara 101   4 Fluxa 90   5 Boya 71   6 Dino Beganovic 62   7 Bohra 59   8 Dufek 56   9 Neate 52   10 Meguetounif 47