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Rinicella and Wharton take F4 UAE poles in Kuwait

by Ida Wood

Photo: F4 UAE

Valerio Rinicella and James Wharton topped Formula 4 United Arab Emirates’ first ever qualifying sessions in Kuwait.

MP Motorsport’s Rinicella and Prema’s Ugo Ugochukwu carried over their pace from free practice, where Ugochukwu had been fastest, to fill the top two positions in Q1 although there were many more contenders for pole position.

Keanu Al Azhari was first to the top, with Arvid Lindblad then moving two seconds clear of the field. Pinnacle VAR’s Jack Beeton was the first driver with a proper flying lap, setting a 1m57.885s to also trump Lindblad by two seconds, but moments later team-mate Kai Daryanani went 0.739s faster than him.

Daryanani was quickly shuffled back to fourth as Tuukka Taponen set a 1m55.536s, going 0.970s up on Bianca Bustamante and 1.314s faster than Hamda Al Qubaisi.

But they also only spent a handful of seconds towards the top, as Ugochukwu and Rinicella then came to the fore, with Jesse Carrasquedo Jr 0.232s behind in their wake.

The top three went unchanged as Q1 entered its final five minutes, with Noah Stromsted jumping up to fourth, then with four-and-a-half minutes remaining Federico Rifai bettered Ugochuwu by just 0.001s.

Everyone else was improving too though, and Rinicella crossed the line with a 1m54.135s lap to go clear by 0.362s ahead of Wharton. The gap between those two closed, with Theophile Nael sneaking into third place.

After the chequered flag was waved, Al Azhari went third fastest but qualified fourth as Ugochukwu left it late to secure second place on the grid. He was 0.107s slower than Rinicella.

Q2 started with PHM Racing’s Jakob Bergmeister being investigated for an unsafe pit release, and this time Beeton was the early pacesetter at 1m56.613s.

He was down to sixth when the session reached its halfway point, with R-ace GP’s Raphael Narac now on top ahead of Akshay Bohra.

Pinnacle VAR’s debuting Hiyu Yamakoshi bettered both, then Ugochukwu went to the top by over a second.

He was still a second clear going into the final five minutes, with R-ace’s test topper Zachary David in second and back on track after only completing three laps in Q1 and failing to qualify.

Ugochukwu was usurped by 0.095s with four minutes to spare as Wharton went fastest, and Rinicella, Taponen and Carrasquedo all bettered David.

The order was then frozen by a red flag stoppage with three minutes to go, and following the retart there was no change in the top four meaning Wharton took pole. David and Carrasquedo did improve, knocking Noah Lisle from fifth to seventh.

Qualifying round-up
Race 1 grid
1 Valerio Rinicella MP Motorsport 1m54.135s
2 Ugo Ugochukwu Prema +0.107s
3 James Wharton Mumbai Falcons +0.245s
4 Keanu Al Azhari Yas Heat +0.341s
5 Tuukka Taponen Mumbai Falcons +0.466s
6 Kanato Le Hitech GP +0.719s
7 Noah Lisle Xcel Motorsport +0.784s
8 Theophile Nael Sainteloc Racing +0.791s
9 Federico Rifai Xcel Motorsport +0.915s
10 Arvid Lindblad Hitech GP +0.934s

Race 3 grid
1 Wharton 1m53.594s
2 Ugochukwu +0.095s
3 Rinicella +0.345s
4 Taponen +0.470s
5 Zachary David R-ace GP +0.764s
6 Jesse Carrasquedo Jr R-ace GP +0.777s
7 Lisle +0.980s
8 Al Azhari +1.051s
9 Rifai +1.069s
10 Dion Gowda Carlin +1.072s