Antonelli leads as Dufek loses victory: 4 takeaways from FRMEC Round 2 at Kuwait Motor Town

The Kuwait Motor Town circuit made its debut in Round 2 of the Formula Regional Middle East Championship. The circuit received a lot of praise from the drivers, and with no prior experience, it offered a level playing field. The three races saw two new winners, a big accident and some of the closest racing we’ve ever seen in the Middle East. Join us as we step through the four biggest takeaways from the action of Round 2 in Kuwait.

By Tyler Foster

Consistent Antonelli remains top

The championship’s resident Mercedes junior showed for a second time in Formula Regional that he is already a premier talent at this level. Leading the standings after the first round in Dubai, Andrea Kimi Antonelli repeated the pace that saw him score pole last time out in the latter qualifying session. Unfortunately, a consecutive pole was denied as a result of the Italian exceeding track limits on his fastest lap. As a result, Antonelli settled for P2 and P4 going into Race 1 and 3 respectively.

A chaotic start to the opening race helped the battle for the win come between the Mumbai Falcons duo of Antonelli and reigning FRECA champion, Dino Beganovic. Numerous safety car periods shortened the opportunity for the pair to duel under green flag conditions, with the race finishing under the second one. A second win for the Swedish Ferrari junior helps him to a comfortable P2 in the standings, behind the more consistent Antonelli.

Whilst ‘Dynamite Dino’ has been on the top step of the FRMEC podium twice, he has scored just 12 points from the remaining four races. On the other hand, his Italian teammate has achieved consistent results despite having yet to win a race; Antonelli has finished in second place three times and has only one DNF to his name.

The second podium of Beganovic’s weekend came in Race 3, after starting on the front row alongside polesitter, Hyderabad Blackbirds by MP Motorsport’s Sami Meguetounif. Whilst we have yet to see the best of Antonelli, the 16-year-old is already the class of the field. Now 12 points ahead of Beganovic at the top of standings, it is only a matter of time before Antonelli opens his account of Formula Regional victories.

Benavides barrel rolls as nine retire in first race

To kickstart the weekend’s racing, a chaotic opening lap in the first race saw ten retirees after a series of collisions. A chain reaction was caused by the tight nature of the pack coming into turn two. Polesitter Joshua Dürksen was eliminated, alongside FIA F3 driver Brad Benavides who ended up barrel rolling and suffering the worst of the damage.

The American driver would miss out on any further racing for the weekend, as the extent of the accident caused the repairs to be too severe to continue. He will, however, return for Round 3 in Kuwait on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Alongside the two aforementioned retirees, a further six drivers — Mari Boya, Lorenzo Fluxá, Gabriele Minì, Nikita Bedrin, Pepe Martí and Francesco Braschi — had their races ended by the opening lap incident. Meguetounif was able to get going again but dropped to the back of the pack.

The race continued following a red flag period, when the damaged vehicles were extracted from the gravel traps. PHM’s Joshua Dufek showed awesome pace and managed to advance up to Sebastián Montoya in the battle for fourth.

The close racing between the pair came to an end, when Dufek made a move on Montoya and squeezed the Colombian on the exit of turn two, causing the pair to come together. This unfortunately ended Montoya’s afternoon due to suspension damage from the collision.

Taylor Barnard was deemed responsible for the opening lap incident. The British driver received a ten-second time-penalty and lost a potential podium as he dropped down the order to P14. It was his PHM teammate, Joshua Dufek, who gained from this, as he joined race winner Beganovic and second-placed Antonelli on the podium.

PHM still take victory despite Dufek losing win

The star of the weekend should have been PHM’s Joshua Dufek, as he opened the weekend up with a strong podium finish. However, his crowning moment should have come in the second race, where victory was denied by a technical infringement.

Following his P3 in Race 1, Dufek started the reverse-grid race in eighth. A solid start saw him rise to third-place behind Rafael Villagómez and Levente Révész. R-ace GP’s Nikhil Bohra pulled off the overtake of the series so far, as he launched from fourth to first in one single corner. A safety car period due to a broken suspension for championship leader Antonelli interrupted the action.

With five laps remaining, Dufek stole the lead off of Bohra. His teammate Barnard followed suit to make it a PHM 1-2. Unfortunately for the Swiss driver, an exclusion for an illegal rear bar meant that he was disqualified from the race. In an ironic twist on the outcome of the first race, it was Barnard who this time benefitted from a penalty. The Brit was subsequently awarded the race win, helping him stay third in the championship standings.

Hyderabad Blackbirds by MP Motorsport take surprise poles

The opening round in Dubai saw Gabriele Mini and Andrea Kimi Antonelli claim the two pole positions available. However, while some stars faltered, two Hyderabad Blackbirds by MP Motorsport drivers took poles in Kuwait — Joshua Dürksen and Sami Meguetounif.

The Paraguayan-born Dürksen competed as a rookie in FRECA last year with Arden, where he made progress throughout the season and went on to finish fourteenth in the championship. With Sebastian Øgaard only competing in the first round, Dürksen entered FRMEC from the second round and immediately showed his potential.

This was realised with an excellent pole position in the first qualifying session, where Dürksen edging out championship leader Antonelli by just four tenths of a second. Whilst Dürksen was forced to retire in the opening race, he set the third-fasted time in the second qualifying session. This allowed him to shine in Race 3, where he was able to secure an impressive podium.

Header photo credit: Formula Regional Middle East Championship


Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s