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Sztuka holds off Camara to take maiden Italian F4 win at Imola

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: ACI Sport

Kacper Sztuka resisted intense pressure from a flying Rafael Camara to take his maiden Italian Formula 4 victory in Sunday’s third race at Imola.

The US Racing driver beat poleman Ivan Domingues off the line and by the end of lap one had already built up a lead of 1.131s over his pursuers.

Ferrari junior Camara was quickly up to third from fifth on the grid, before passing Domingues before the braking zone for Tamburello and beginning to reel in the Pole out front.

As Camara set a series of fastest laps, the gap to Sztuka was down below 1s by the end of lap five. Camara had several looks into Tamburello but was never close enough to attempt a passing move, Sztuka driving superbly to fend him off.

Sztuka’s US Racing team-mate Alex Dunne, winner of race two, was lucky to emerge undamaged from a trip across the gravel at Tamburello on lap one. Dunne was also on a charge from ninth on the grid, moving up to third by lap six, although unable to close on the pair in front.

Antonelli’s difficult weekend seemed set to continue as he fought to move up from 10th on the grid. On lap 10 he made an overly optimistic move on team-mate James Wharton into Rivazza, the Italian locking up as he nudged Wharton off the track, dropping the Australian to 11th.

A late safety car bunched up the field, as the Prema cars of Camara and Antonelli tried to find a way past their US rivals. Camara tried to the inside at Tamburello and again at Tosa but Sztuka never allowed Camara the opportunity to get alongside.

Taylor Barnard enjoyed a strong race for PHM Racing to take fifth ahead of Martinius Stenshorne from Van Amersfoort Racing with Nikita Bedrin, Charlie Wurz and Marcus Amand completing the top 10.

The stewards investigated the contact between Antonelli and Wharton after the race and gave the former a 10-second penalty, relegating him to 10th place behind Wharton. It means he leaves the opening round with just a single championship point.

Race result (17 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Kacper Sztuka US Racing 32m04.994s
2 Rafael Camara Prema Racing +0.465s
3 Alex Dunne US Racing +2.217s
4 Taylor Barnard PHM Racing +3.967s
5 Martinius Stenshorne Van Amersfoort Racing +4.510s
6 Nikita Bedrin PHM Racing +4.846s
7 Charlie Wurz Prema Racing +5.116s
8 Marcus Amand US Racing +5.219s
9 James Wharton Prema Racing +11.752s
10 Andrea Kimi Antonelli Prema Racing +12.628s
11 Frederik Lund R-ace GP +12.883s
12 Pedro Perino US Racing +13.359s
13 Conrad Laursen Prema Racing +14.053s
14 Alex Partyshev Jenzer Motorsport +16.204s
15 Arias Deukmedjian Van Amersfoort Racing +17.102s
16 Jonas Ried PHM Racing +17.590s
17 Emerson Fittipaldi Jr. Van Amersfoort Racing +18.794s
18 Alfio Spina BWR Motorsport +18.803s
19 Elia Sperandio Maffi Racing +20.115s
20 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing +23.599s
21 Giovanni Maschio AS Motorsport +27.718s
22 Ismail Akhmed AKM Motorsport +31.052s
23 Jules Castro Van Amersfoort Racing +31.273s
24 Rishab Jain BWR Motorsport +31.943s
25 Pedro Clerot AKM Motorsport +34.602s
26 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport +1m03.191s
27 Ivan Domingues Iron Lynx +1 lap
28 Maya Weug Iron Dames +1 lap
29 Marcos Flack R-ace GP +1 lap
30 Andrea Frassineti Cars Racing +1 lap
31 Viktoria Blokhina PHM Racing +1 lap
Ret Nikhil Bohra US Racing
Ret Ricardo Escotto Cram Motorsport
Fastest lap: Camara, 1m46.006s

Championship standings
1 Dunne 58   2 Camara 47   3 Sztuka 43   4 Stenshorne 30   5 Wharton 29   6 Bedrin 25   7 Barnard 21   8 Amand 20  10 Wurz 12   10 Weug 9