Andrea Kimi Antonelli Retains Championship Lead after Kuwait Debut

Andrea Kimi Antonelli Retains Championship Lead after Kuwait Debut

29.01.2023: Formula Regional Middle East Championship Certified by FIA (FRMEC) Kuwait Motor Town Sunday January 29th 2023 Race victory continues to elude exciting Italian Rookie


Formula Regional Middle East Championship Certified by FIA (FRMEC)
Kuwait Motor Town
Sunday January 29th 2023




• Race victory continues to elude exciting Italian Rookie


• Dino Beganovic, Taylor Barnard and Sami Meguetounif take win apiece


• Drivers hail new Kuwait Motor Town facility




The first visit by the Formula Regional Middle East Championship Certified by FIA (FRMEC) to the new Kuwait Motor Town facility was a festival of the unpredictable and dramatic. Dino Beganovic, Taylor Barnard and Sami Meguetounif emerged as the three race winners. Yet, just as he did after the opening round at Dubai Autodrome, Andrea Kimi Antonelli came away as the series leader, despite not yet having won a race.



The new Kuwait Motor Town facility was a step into the unknown for all teams and drivers, providing a fascinating competitive level playing field. However, 19-year-old Swede Beganovic would not have predicted that he would get into the lead of the opening race in Kuwait in the first few corners having started ninth on the grid.



Once in front, Beganovic wasn’t about to give up his advantage and, following a red flag due to a first-corner pile-up, he led Mercedes F1 protégé and Mumbai Falcons Racing team-mate Antonelli (the Italian also won the Rookie Cup) to the finish. Taylor Barnard finished third, but a penalty for the Briton for being adjudged to be one of those at fault for the first-lap accident promoted PHM Racing team-mate Dufek to the final podium position.



The second race kept up the level of drama. From the reversed grid, Rafael Villagómez was the initial leader, while Nikhil Bohra then had a turn in front in between the early safety-car interludes. Finally, it was the unstoppable Swiss Dufek who came through for an apparent victory. Barnard, remarkably from 14th on the grid, also got past the R-ace GP car of Indian-American (and Singapore-licensed) Bohra to complete a PHM 1-2, and also took Rookie Cup honours.




However, there disappointment in store for Dufek when the rear anti-rollbar links of his car were found not to conform with homologation requirements, and he was excluded. Barnard was handed victory from Bohra and Rafael Câmara. This time, Antonelli was sidelined with broken suspension and Beganovic finished outside the points after a pit stop for a new front wing.



After a frustrating run of fortune so far in FRMEC, Sami Meguetounif led all the way from pole position in the final race – reward at last for the Hyderabad Blackbirds with MP Motorsport team. The 18-year-old Frenchman initially led team-mate Joshua Dürksen, before Antonelli came charging through into second.



Antonelli closed the gap to the leader, but had to make do with Rookie Cup honours once again as Meguetounif stayed firm in front. Beganovic finished fifth, which means he is second in the championship, just 12 points adrift of Antonelli, with Barnard in third and 19 points off the summit.





Driver Quotes


Race 1 winner: Dino Beganovic / Mumbai Falcons



“Qualifying was a bit disappointing but we focussed on the race – we had good race pace yesterday. We knew that we would challenge, but challenge for the win was not maybe the plan. I got an amazing start. Got the flow coming in to T2, avoided the mess and was in the front row in the braking already.



It was a very nice race, an eventful race. After the safety car restart, I settled into the pace. Kimi [Antonelli] is fast, so I tried to be as consistent as I could and keep the pace. It was tough but it was fun!”



Race 3 winner: Sami Meguetounif/Hyderabad Blackbirds by MP Motorsport



“This last race wasn’t easy – even if I started on pole. On this track, the straight is so long that to keep the first position at the start is really difficult. So we managed to make it and then I tried to just look forward and tried to keep my pace and my own rhythm with the car.


Kimi [Antonelli] was coming quite fast
. At the end I managed to keep him behind without defending, so I’m really happy. We had really bad luck in Dubai, we had bad luck yesterday in the race; after starting P3 I had to go out because of the crash. It’s super nice to finish the weekend like this; for me, for the team, for everyone, so thanks to the team. They did mega work all week!”





2023 FORMULA REGIONAL MIDDLE EAST CHAMPIONSHIP CERTIFIED BY FIA PROVISIONAL CALENDAR



January 9-10
Dubai Autodrome, UAE
Pre-Season Test

January 13-14
Dubai Autodrome, UAE
Round 1 (Races 1-3)

January 27-28
Kuwait Motor Town, Kuwait
Round 2 (Races 4-6)

January 31-February 1
Kuwait Motor Town, Kuwait
Round 3 (Races 7-9)

February 11-12
Dubai Autodrome, UAE
Round 4 (Races 10-12)

February 18-19
Yas Marina Circuit, UAE
Round 5 (Races 13-15)



Nikki Kemp - photos FRMEC

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29.01.2023 / MaP

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