With the victory in Race 2, the mathematical confirmation has arrived. Kacper Sztuka is the 10th Champion of the Italian F.4 Championship. The Pole from US Racing sealed the deal by winning a complex race, where he had to manage two starts. In both cases, he skillfully resisted the attacks from Prema Racing drivers. However, during the restart behind the Safety Car, the Pole made a mistake in following the correct procedure and received a 5-second penalty. The penalty didn't take away Sztuka's victory in the race. Kacper Sztuka put his mark on the Championship with 8 total victories, starting his comeback from the 5th round when he consecutively won 6 races, monopolizing the top step of the podium at Paul Ricard and Mugello. Sztuka, who had also won the opening race of the season at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, has thus closed the circle, waving the colors of Poland on the Italian Championship promoted by ACI Sport and WSK Promotion. Second on the podium was Tuukka Taponen, once again fiercely competitive at Vallelunga. The Ferrari Driver Academy from Prema attacked right from the very beginning. Then again at the re-start and for a long time during the race, with the top drivers all at close distances during many parts of the race, in a fiercely contested battle. On the third step of the podium waved the Italian flag, with Brando Badoer from Van Amersfoort Racing. Unstoppable Badoer in Race 2, where he showcased excellent speed. The Italian from VAR climbed up to fight for the second position, then dropped back to fourth, only to finish on the podium with a final move overtaking Ugochukwu at Tornantino. Precisely the junior McLaren driver from Prema Racing, with the fourth-place finish, had to give up the dream of the Italian F.4 Championship, as with Sztuka's victory, the American needed only the second position to keep the duel alive this Sunday.
The second race of the ACI Racing Weekend at Vallelunga was anything but simple, with the first twist coming shortly after the start. There was indeed an incident in the group involving numerous cars. Among the retirees following this incident were Kabir Anurag and Akshay Bohra from US Racing, Finn Wiebelhaus and Shimo Zhang from Jenzer Motorsport, Tom Kalender from PHM Racing, Guido Luchetti from Airflow Racing, Diego De La Torre, and Tina Hausmann from AKM Motorsport. Precisely the Swiss driver had to postpone the final duel with Victoria Blokhina from PHM Racing to tomorrow, duel that will assign the Women's Trophy. Tina Hausmann indeed had her first match point today, but the final reckoning is deferred to tomorrow, with a head-to-head battle that will bring victory, in the last of the standings remained open, to the female driver who will finish ahead of the other in the last race of the year.
Red flag with cars called into the pit-lane before restarting with the original grid behind the Safety Car, with the race duration reduced by 5 minutes.
Alex Powell from Prema Racing was penalized post-race with a drive-through converted to 25 seconds added to the total race time for causing the stop. The Jamaican junior Mercedes driver thus lost sixth place. At the second start, Sztuka maintained the leadership, defended from attacks, bringing home the eighth victory and the Championship. On the podium with him, Taponen and Badoer climbed the remaining steps, while the fourth place went to Ugochukwu.
Fifth in Race 2 was Freddie Slater, the very fast UK driver from Van Amerfoort Racing. Slater is one of the great interpreters of the top fight; he even touched the rear of his teammate Brando Badoer in the most hectic phases, with no consequences for both in the race. Zachary David from US Racing finished seventh under the checkered flag; he received a drive-through converted to 25 seconds for causing an incident that ended Jack Beeton's race from Van Amersfoort Racing. The same fate also befell Nicola Lacorte from Prema Racing for the incident that ended Matteo Quintarelli's race from R-ace GP. Australian James Wharton, Ferrari Driver Academy driver with the colors of Prema Racing, finished sixth in the second race at Vallelunga. Behind him, James Egozi from PHM Racing and Ariel Elkin from Jenzer Motorsport finished the race seventh and eighth, while completing the top 10 were Arvid Lindblad and Rashid Al Dhaheri, both Prema Racing drivers. For the Londoner Arvid Lindblad, already crowned Rookie Champion, the chance to win the overall title has definitively slipped away. He can still boast a highly successful debut season, where his dominance was established in the first part of the year.
Another race tomorrow, Sunday, October 15, for the grand finale of the Italian F.4 Championship 2023, starting at 11 for 30 minutes + 1 lap.
The races of the weekend will be visible live with English commentary on the Italian F.4 Championship's YouTube and Facebook pages and on Motorsport TV (https://eu.motorsport.tv/); airing with Italian commentary on ACI Sport TV (Sky channel 228 and 52 Tivùsat), on www.acisport.it, and on the Facebook page @acisporttv.
The free ticket to access the event is available upon registration on the official website of the racetrack: https://ticket.vallelunga.it/en/arw-settembre2023/individual-registration
Kacper Sztuka: “It was really good. Talking about the race, was of course difficult because of the red flag, then the re-start. I just controlling the pace, then I had no fights, but of course I had to focus on keep it clean. The Championship is ours, cannot be better. Great Job. We were working on it for the last year and this year. A great comeback, some lost hope already in the mid-season, but we came back and we are really strong. Great job by everybody, I’m super happy. I want to thank all the Polish fans. I had great support from them. Of course, my sponsors, my family especially, all the Team, everybody working hard on it. I’m just grateful and very happy.”
Tuukka Taponen: “We were struggling with the downshifting after the red flag, so I lost a lot of speed, then I got a pressure from behind and I needed just to defend and hold my position. I want to win a race, of course, tomorrow it will be a tough one.”
Brando Badoer: "It was a tough race. I had a good start. Then the red flag. I did well in the restart; I think the pace was very good. I managed to pass Ugo. In the battle with Tuukka for the second position, I slipped to fourth, but in the end, I brought home the third position by overtaking Ugo again. I am happy with the race; the pace was good, I made some nice overtakes, and I think not much more could have been done, so I am happy about it. Tomorrow, we will start again to win; let's see what we can do."