Home Formula 4Italian F4 Ugochukwu, Sztuka and Wharton share Italian F4 poles at Paul Ricard

Ugochukwu, Sztuka and Wharton share Italian F4 poles at Paul Ricard

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: ACI Sport

Prema’s Ugo Ugochukwu and US Racing’s Kacper Sztuka took turns to top the two qualifying sessions for Italian Formula 4 at Paul Ricard to earn a pole position each.

Ugochukwu’s team-mate James Wharton will start race three from pole, having recorded the fastest second-best laptime across the two sessions.

However, championship leader Arvid Lindblad was unable to match the speed of his Prema team-mates, finishing Q1 in ninth and Q2 in fifth.

Ugochukwu headed Q1 with a 2m04.988 set on his final lap to pip practice pacesetter Sztuka by 0.112 seconds.

Both drivers had taken turns at the front earlier in the session but with a minute remaining it was Prema’s Tuukka Taponen who had looked on course for his first pole since Misano in May. However, the Finn was only able to improve by 0.001s on his final lap, dropping to third, ahead of US’s Zachary David and Wharton.

Van Amerfoort Racing’s Brando Badoer could not maintain his early-session pace, dropping to sixth at the close, one place ahead of team-mate Ivan Domingues.

PHM Racing’s James Egozi continued his strong progress recently to qualify eighth.

Sztuka was able to make amends in the faster Q2, edging Wharton by just 0.006s in a truncated session.

A spin from Jenzer Motorsport’s Ariel Elkin in the final corner brought out the red flags with less than two minutes remaining, and the session did not restart so nobody could make a last-minute improvement.

Wharton, however, gained some compensation by taking race three pole courtesy of his second-fastest lap in Q2, with Sztuka making it a hat-trick of front-row starting positions.

For most of the session, Sztuka had been circulating at the front of a five-car US Racing train on the timesheet.

Ugochukwu was third fastest in Q2 ahead of team-mates Taponen and Lindblad, with Badoer once again sixth.

Prema’s Niko Lacorte qualified eighth, with David and Egozi again in the top 10.

Qualifying round-up
Q1 results
1 Ugo Ugochukwu Prema 2m04.988s
2 Kacper Sztuka US Racing +0.112s
3 Tuukka Taponen Prema +0.179s
4 Zachary David US Racing +0.230s
5 James Wharton Prema +0.428s
6 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing +0.449s
7 Ivan Domingues Van Amersfoort Racing +0.571s
8 James Egozi PHM Racing +0.579s
9 Arvid Lindblad Prema +0.581s
10 Gianmarco Pradel US Racing +0.647s

Q2 results
1 Sztuka 2m04.702s
2 Wharton +0.006s
3 Ugochukwu +0.137s
4 Taponen +0.277s
5 Lindblad +0.352s
6 Badoer +0.390s
7 Niko Lacorte Prema +0.555s
8 David +0.645s
9 Egozi +0.684s
10 Raphael Narac R-ace GP +0.761s

Second-best laps
1 Wharton 2m04.795s
2 Sztuka +0.127s
3 Taponen +0.373s
4 Ugochukwu +0.417s
5 Badoer +0.480s
6 Lindblad +0.540s
7 David +0.671s
8 Akshay Bohra US Racing +0.700s
9 Alfio Spina BVM Racing +0.836s
10 Egozi +0.891s