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Ugochukwu keeps Italian F4 title hopes alive with Vallelunga victory

by Peter Allen

Photo: ACI Sport

Ugo Ugochukwu won the first race of the Italian Formula 4 finale at Vallelunga to halt Kacper Sztuka’s victory streak and keep his title hopes alive.

From third on the grid, McLaren junior Ugochukwu got the best getaway of the leading drivers, immediately moving up into second place before passing points leader Sztuka around the outside of the double-apex Cimini right-handers.

His Prema team-mate Tuukka Taponen also got past Sztuka into the Tornantino harpin, while behind, Nikhil Bohra was pushed into the gravel by Brando Badoer as they fought over fifth.

In the second half of the race, Ugochukwu was able to start pulling away while Sztuka remained on the tail of Taponen.

Ugochukwu clinched his third win of the season – and first since round three at Spa-Francorchamps in May – by 1.5 seconds while Taponen held off Sztuka by less than three tenths.

With that, Ugochukwu moves from 18 points behind Sztuka to just eight, but with only the drivers’ best 16 scores counting towards the championship, dropped scores now come into effect. Ugochukwu is therefore actually 11 points behind, while Arvid Lindblad – who finished sixth – is 9.5 away from Sztuka.

Zachary David was a relatively lonely fourth, with James Wharton holding off Lindblad for fifth.

Ariel Elkin came from 12th to finish on Lindblad’s tail in seventh for Jenzer Motorsport, beating Badoer, Nicola Lacorte and James Egozi.

Race result (20 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Ugo Ugochukwu Prema Racing 31m38.218s
2 Tuukka Taponen Prema Racing +1.547s
3 Kacper Sztuka US Racing +1.829s
4 Zachary David US Racing +3.828s
5 James Wharton Prema Racing +6.741s
6 Arvid Lindblad Prema Racing +8.050s
7 Ariel Elkin Jenzer Motorsport +8.653s
8 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing +8.842s
9 Nicola Lacorte Prema Racing +9.763s
10 James Egozi PHM Racing +10.551s
11 Gianmarco Pradel US Racing +14.710s
12 Matheus Ferreira Van Amersfoort Racing +15.952s
13 Jack Beeton Van Amersfoort Racing +16.782s
14 Alex Powell Prema Racing +17.585s
15 Freddie Slater Van Amersfoort Racing +18.061s
16 Raphael Narac R-ace GP +18.822s
17 Rashid Al Dhaheri Prema Racing +19.319s
18 Davide Larini PHM Racing +20.440s
19 Matteo Quintarelli R-ace GP +20.916s
20 Alfio Spina BVM Racing +22.260s
21 Shimo Zhang Jenzer Motorsport +27.212s
22 Aurelia Nobels Prema Racing +29.759s
23 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport +30.564s
24 Giacomo Pedrini PHM Racing +31.718s
25 Tina Hausmann AKM Motorsport +31.883s
26 Kabir Anurag US Racing +32.519s
27 Tom Kalender PHM Racing +33.357s
28 Viktoria Blokhina PHM Racing +33.958s
29 Finn Wiebelhaus Jenzer Motorsport +35.766s
30 Diego De La Torre AKM Motorsport +46.889s
31 Guido Luchetti Airflow Racing +51.107s
32 Ruiqi Liu US Racing +1m05.454s
33 Kamal Mrad AKM Motorsport +1 lap
Ret Akshay Bohra US Racing
Fastest lap: Badoer, 1m34.223s

Championship standings
 Sztuka 273   2 Lindblad 263.5   3 Ugochukwu 262   4 Wharton 187.5   5 Taponen 163   6 Badoer 140   David 136   8 Bohra 113   9 Lacorte 75  10 Al Dhaheri 65