It’s only been three weeks since it began, but we have already passed the halfway stage of the Formula Regional Asian Championship. We’ve seen some drivers such as Gabriele Mini, Hadrien David and Gabriel Bortoleto leave the series to focus on their main campaigns. Meanwhile, FRAC Round 3 stayed in Dubai as the teams and drivers start taking bigger risks as the battle for the title hots up. Here are five points of interest from the weekend’s action.
By Tyler Foster
Of the three Mumbai Falcons drivers this year in FRAC, Dino Beganovic has been outshone by his two teammates. Despite racing for the most dominant team on the grid, just one podium from the first two rounds was not a totally impressive start to his campaign. He has been improving with each week however, and now sees his hard work finally pay dividends in a weekend that saw him score a podium and his first race win.
The young Swede had a disappointing qualifying performance, finishing 6th and 10th in the two sessions. After Jak Crawford struggled off the line at the start of Race 1, Beganovic was at the front of a train harassing Leonardo Fornaroli for third place. He eventually passed the Italian rookie and finished on the bottom step of the podium.
Despite starting eighth for race two, he finished the first lap in fourth. He then once again overtook Fornaroli, before making the move of the championship so far with a wonderful overtake on Dilano van’t Hoff. He capped this strong performance off by pressuring reverse-grid pole-sitter Michael Belov into a mistake and winning his first race of the series. The man nicknamed ‘Dynamite Dino’ now sits fourth in the championship and is only improving with every race.
Falcons finish 1-2-3
While Dino Beganovic was a star in Round 3, it could be argued that the performance of the weekend goes to the Mumbai Falcons for their 1-2-3 in Race 1. Their team have been the strongest outfit so far and are seemingly on their way to the Teams’ Championship Title later this month. They had managed a one-two in the previous round but obviously weren’t done there.
It all started with Sebastián Montoya claiming his third consecutive pole of the series. Montoya controlled the field throughout and took a demanding victory. Unfortunately, the Colombian will now be leaving the championship, being replaced by British phenom Ollie Bearman for the remaining two rounds. Meanwhile, Arthur Leclerc came from eight to finish second while Beganovic completed the Mumbai Falcons lockout of the podium.
This performance was an exclamation of just how dominant the Mumbai Falcons have been in FRAC. For the Indian team with big aspirations, this is the perfect way to announce yourselves to the world.
Van’t Hoff puts in on pole
Despite the current F1 World Champion being a Dutchman, the extent of young Dutch talent is not particularly long. Dilano van’t Hoff may be slowly changing this. The 17-year-old is the reigning Spanish F4 Champion and has now added a FRAC pole and podium to his growing resume.
After missing the first round in Abu Dhabi due to COVID, he had a lot of time to make up. He showed pace in the practice sessions in round two but never managed to make good on it, struggling in the races and only scoring one points finish.
For Round 3 however, the Dutchman finally brought his A-game with a pole position in the second qualifying session. With decent points in the first two races of the weekend, it looked extremely hopeful going into Race 3. Unfortunately, the pressure of Leclerc and Pepe Marti was too much and he had to settle for third but this is still a major improvement from last week. With two rounds left, Van’t Hoff will be a major contender for podiums and possibly wins.
Penalty for podium-sitters
One of the worst things for a driver in motorsport is receiving penalties when you are in a commanding position on track. For Isack Hadjar and Leonardo Fornaroli, this was a tough reality they had to face in Race 1 this weekend. The pair, who are teammates for Hitech GP, lined up P2 and P4 after a strong qualifying session. Unfortunately, they both made the same error before the race had even begun.
Despite being awarded a five second penalty during the race, they were penalised for a grid box regulation infringement. In other words, they failed to line up in their grid slot properly. Understandably, neither driver took this news well and were frustrated to have what would have been a double podium for Hitech GP taken away from them, with Hadjar second and Fornaroli third at the flag.
While this meant that both drivers would then have a better starting position for the reverse-grid Race 2, neither driver capitalised on this as they finished outside the points. The setback from Race 1 had a clear effect on the duo throughout the weekend and Hitech have now lost out on major points.
Martí making consistency work
One driver surprising everyone this series is young Spaniard Pepe Martí. The 16-year-old is competing in Formula 3 this year as a rookie for Campos despite only finishing third in Spanish F4 last year. It is becoming clear why he was signed up however, as he has been extremely consistent and finds himself second in the championship with two rounds remaining.
Since retiring in the first two races in Round 1, he has been in the points for every race. This includes three podiums and another good points haul in Round 3 that included two fourth-place finishes and a second-place podium. His consistency stems from his strong qualifying performances. He has also found points from great performances in the reverse-grid races.
It seems a win this series for the Spaniard is only a matter of time.
Header photo credit: Formula Regional Asian Championship