Mumbai Falcons’ Tuukka Taponen resisted pressure from Keanu Al Azhari to complete a clean sweep of victories at Dubai Autodrome.
The Ferrari junior heads to the final round of the Formula 4 United Arab Emirates season in Abu Dhabi next week just six points behind team-mate and championship leader James Wharton, who finished third in Dubai race three.
A second formation lap was needed for the race as several cars were out of their grid position. As a consequence, race length was reduced by three minutes to 20 minutes plus one lap. On the first lap, R-ace GP’s Jesse Carrasquedo Jr and Cram Motorsport’s Flavio Olivieri had to be pushed to the pitlane as they could not get going from the grid.
Taponen comfortably led away from pole with an excellent getaway when the race did start, and behind him Yas Heat Academy’s Al Azhari momentarily fell behind Hitech GP’s Arvin Lindblad and Wharton. However, he committed to the inside in the first corner and regained second place.
Al Azhari soon closed the gap Taponen had built in the opening lap, and started to put pressure on the Finn. Meanwhile Wharton battled Lindblad for third, and got by the Red Bull junior before the end of lap three.
MP Motorsport’s Valerio Rinicella benefited from Wharton’s move and also passed Lindblad. However, the latter would retake the place a lap later.
Also on lap three, PHM Racing’s Akshay Bohra overtook Hitech’s James Piszcyk for seventh, and went on to attempt a move on Prema’s Ugo Ugochuwku. It soon became a five-car battle as Pinnacle VAR’s Luca Badoer and Sainteloc Racing’s Theophile Nael joined the fight.
Nael eventually advanced them all to finish the race in sixth place, from 16th on the grid.
As the race progressed, Taponen continued to fend off Al Azhari and they soon had Wharton on their tail. The trio would we split by 0.740 seconds at the finish, with Al Azhari never quite close enough to go have a strong attempt at passing Taponen.
Al Azhari still got to celebrate his first championship podium as Taponen made it three wins out of three, but with no reason to smile was former points leader Ugochukwu who finished 10th and is now a distant third in the standings.
Race results (11 laps)
|Keanu Al Azhari
|Hamda Al Qubaisi
|Jesse Carrasquedo Jr
|Fastest lap: Wharton, 2m03.057s