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Sztuka becomes Italian F4 champion with a race to spare

by Peter Allen

Photo: ACI Sport

Kacper Sztuka has won the Italian Formula 4 championship with victory in the penultimate race of the year at Vallelunga.

The win for the US Racing driver, combined with fourth place for Ugo Ugochukwu and 11th for Arvid Lindblad, gives him a 28-point lead over the former on dropped scores, with only their 16 best scores across the season counting.

The race was red-flagged on lap one following chaos in the middle of the pack at Cimini in which Lindblad and his Prema team-mate James Wharton were caught up.

Akshay Bohra was one of eight drivers who could not continue and make the restart, and it took over half an hour for the track to be cleared and the race to get back underway.

As in race one, Ugochukwu got a great launch at the initial start but Sztuka could keep hold of the lead this time. Positions were returned to original grid order anyway for the restart, which began with two laps behind the safety car.

After the field was eventually released, Sztuka retained the lead but got tapped from behind by Tuukka Taponen in the Tornantino hairpin on the second lap of racing, and fortunately managed to avoid being spun around.

Just behind, Brando Badoer overtook Ugochukwu for third. The two McLaren-contracted drivers would keep trading places over the following laps before Badoer sealed the place.

With Taponen unable to break free of that battle, Sztuka could build a gap out front and took victory by over five seconds in the end – his seventh win in the space of eight races.

Taponen held off Badoer and Ugochukwu to finish second, with Freddie Slater beating Alex Powell to finish fifth.

Lindblad took the restart in 11th and finished in the same position. The Red Bull junior led the championship prior to Sztuka’s late surge of success, but has not finished on the podium since his hat-trick at round four at Monza.

Race result (15 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Kacper Sztuka US Racing 26m51.198s
2 Tuukka Taponen Prema Racing +5.317s
3 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing +5.711s
4 Ugo Ugochukwu Prema Racing +6.081s
5 Freddie Slater Van Amersfoort Racing +6.511s
6 Alex Powell Prema Racing +7.173s
7 Zachary David US Racing +7.752s
8 James Wharton Prema Racing +9.166s
9 James Egozi PHM Racing +10.146s
10 Ariel Elkin Jenzer Motorsport +10.368s
11 Arvid Lindblad Prema Racing +11.415s
12 Nicola Lacorte Prema Racing +15.870s
13 Rashid Al Dhaheri Prema Racing +16.334s
14 Raphael Narac R-ace GP +16.991s
15 Matheus Ferreira Van Amersfoort Racing +17.726s
16 Alfio Spina BVM Racing +18.826s
17 Ruiqi Liu US Racing +19.170s
18 Davide Larini PHM Racing +20.018s
19 Gianmarco Pradel US Racing +20.535s
20 Aurelia Nobels Prema Racing +21.549s
21 Giacomo Pedrini PHM Racing +22.628s
22 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport +23.601s
23 Viktoria Blokhina PHM Racing +24.195s
24 Kamal Mrad AKM Motorsport +27.530s
Ret Matteo Quintarelli R-ace GP
Ret Jack Beeton Van Amersfoort Racing
Ret Kabir Anurag US Racing
Ret Akshay Bohra US Racing
Ret Finn Wiebelhaus Jenzer Motorsport
Ret Tina Hausmann AKM Motorsport
Ret Shimo Zhang Jenzer Motorsport
Ret Tom Kalender PHM Racing
Ret Guido Luchetti Airflow Racing
Ret Diego De La Torre AKM Motorsport
Fastest lap: Sztuka, 1m34.188s

Championship standings (best 16 scores)
 Sztuka 298   2 Ugochukwu 270   3 Lindblad 263.5   4 Wharton 191.5   5 Taponen 181   6 Badoer 155   David 142  8 Bohra 113   9 Lacorte 75  10 Al Dhaheri 65