Photo: Formula Pilota China
Italian rookie secures championship crown with victory in opening race of final weekend in Malaysia…
The final title decider to be covered by us at PaddockScout in 2012 happened to be the sixth round of the Formula Pilota China series, which wrapped up its season with another visit to Sepang.
The emerging Italian junior single-seater hope, Antonio Giovinazzi, went into the final round of the year with a 40 point lead over his title rival, Dan Wells, with 54 points up for grabs. And, while racing even in 2012 has seen crazier comebacks than that, Giovinazzi spent the entire round in control and secured the title with ease.
You wouldn’t have been able to tell it from the qualifying sessions, though, as Giovinazzi lined up in a hardly-impressive seventh for the first race and in fourth for race two. Wells managed fourth and fifth respectively, while it was Aidan Wright, the Australian JK Racing Asia Series regular, who picked up pole for both races in his first FPC outing. Indian Raj Bharath and Afiq Ikhwan from Malaysia qualified up in second and third respectively for both of the feature races. Unusual results but they are fairly easily explained by the wet weather conditions in which the sessions took place.
Come race day, and Giovinazzi found his feet at the track he’s dominated previously, going from seventh at the start to first to the finish line, claiming the title in the first race of the weekend. Bharath and polesitter Wright completed the podium while Wells finished in fourth.
The second race, which saw Giovinazzi start from pole, did not go quite so well for him, as he was first passed by Ghorpade and then went off the track around lap six in very wet conditions. The challenging weather situation made it so that only six cars completed the race, with Ghorpade taking his third win of the year. Wells and Sean Gelael completed the podium as many other contenders failed to finish.
The final race of the year was a less hectic one as Gelael took his first and only victory of the season, with Giovinazzi and Ikhwan completing the podium. Poleman Wright ended up only fifth yet still one spot ahead Wells.
In his first year of car racing, Giovinazzi managed to nicely wrap up the Formula Pilota China title, which, along with his excellent showing in Formula Abarth, should generate decent interest. Wells wrapped up the season in second while Ghorpade took the Best Asian Driver Trophy alongside with third in the overall standings.
PaddockScout Driver of the Weekend: Antonio Giovinazzi – yeah, he might have not finished one of the three races of the round, but at that point he was already the champion due to his excellent performance in the first race. The low grid spots weren’t exactly his fault as it was the entire team that struggled in the wet conditions and in the races he did finish, he more than made up for the poor qualifying by taking a win and a podium. A worthy champion.
Next season: That’s it for the racing on PaddockScout’s radar in 2012. The roundup will be back in January when the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand kicks off the 2013 action. In the meantime, look out for the final two parts of our top 50 drivers of 2012 countdown between now and Christmas.