Home Formula 4Italian F4 Sztuka holds off Badoer to win Italian F4 opener at Imola

Sztuka holds off Badoer to win Italian F4 opener at Imola

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: ACI Sport

US Racing’s Kacper Sztuka drove a measured race to win the Italian Formula 4 season opener at Imola despite late pressure from Brando Badoer.

Once he had found a way past a fast-starting Akshay Bohra, Badoer began to narrow the gap to Sztuka with a series of fastest laps, closing from 3.3 seconds behind to just 0.6s at the chequered flag, although a delighted Sztuka had enough in hand to hold on for victory.

The Pole made a perfect getaway from pole position, with a grid consisting from qualifying groups B and C after the 37-car entry had to be divided due to exceeding grid capacity.

Bohra immediately found a way round the outside of Prema’s front row starter Niko Lacorte at Tamburello to move up to second, with Van Amersfoort Racing’s Badoer tucking into fourth.

As Sztuka extended his lead out in front, the three ran nose-to-tail as they battled for second.

R-ace GP’s Matteo De Palo headed the next group, already 1.8s behind Badoer with Zachary David and James Wharton right behind him.

Badoer managed to get inside Lacorte into Rivazza on lap three, while in the midfield Prema’s Tuukka Taponen ran wide at Acque minerali while challenging team-mate Rashid Al Dhaheri for 10th, dropping him back to 12th.

At the same time a couple of incidents in quick succession at Tosa involved backmarkers Manuel Quodamcarlo and Viktoria Blokhina going off, while Aurelia Nobels and Tina Hausmann also tangled dropping to the back of the field.

With Sztuka comfortable out front, Badoer got a good run out of Tamburello to snatch second from Bohra into Villeneuve, and Lacorte followed through.

Badoer immediately set about chasing down Sztuka, lapping 0.3s per lap faster as he closed to within a second, although ultimately running out of laps to challenge for victory.

Behind them Lacorte held on for an excellent third place ahead of Bohra and BVM Racing’s Alfio Spina.

Wharton and De Palo had continued to put pressure on Bohra throughout the race, with Wharton having a look at the Villeneuve chicane as de Palo then tried a move on the Australian into the following Tosa corner.

With two laps to go, Wharton and De Palo made contact at Tosa, locking wheels and forcing both into retirement, although with both cars off the track a local yellow was deemed sufficient.

David and Al Dhaheri took sixth and seventh, ahead of James Egozi in eighth. Enzo Deligny fought through to ninth on his car racing debut for AKM Motorsport, just ahead of fellow karting sensation Taponen.

Race result (16 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Kacper Sztuka US Racing 28m07.034s
2 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing +0.641s
3 Niko Lacorte Prema +8.314s
4 Akshay Bohra US Racing +11.265s
5 Alfio Spina BVM Racing +12.570s
6 Zachary David US Racing +13.113s
7 Rashid Al Dhaheri Prema +13.269s
8 James Egozi PHM Racing +15.482s
9 Enzo Deligny AKM Motorsport +15.847s
10 Tuukka Taponen Prema +17.171s
11 Ariel Elkin Jenzer Motorsport +28.156s
12 Kim Hwarang Jenzer Motorsport +28.572s
13 Raphael Narac R-ace GP +31.427s
14 Griffin Peebles AKM Motorsport +34.499s
15 Finn Wiebelhaus AS Motorsport +43.461s
16 Ismail Akhmed Van Amersfoort Racing +44.304s
17 Manuel Quondamcarlo AS Motorsport +59.821s
18 Ruiqu Liu US Racing +1m20.155s
19 Tina Hausmann AKM Motorsport +1m44.501s
20 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport +1 lap
21 Aurelia Nobels Prema +1 lap
22 Viktoria Blokhina PHM Racing +1 lap
23 James Wharton Prema +3 laps
24 Matteo De Palo R-ace GP +3 laps
Fastest lap: Badoer, 1m44.521s