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    Camara wins, Taponen extends lead

    Camara wins, Taponen extends lead

    Maranello 05 febbraio 2024

    A solid performance from both Scuderia Ferrari Driver Academy students in the Formula Regional Middle East series in Dubai, with a win for Rafael Camara in Race 3, while Tuukka Taponen extended his championship lead.

    The Dubai Autodrome hosted the third of five rounds of the Formula Regional Middle East series, which went well for Camara and Taponen. The 18 year old Brazilian secured his first pole and win of the year in a spectacular Race 3. With two second places and a seventh, the Finn extended his championship lead to 32 points over second placed British driver Taylor Barnard.

    Race-1. Camara started off taking pole position for Race 3 and second place for Race 1 with Taponen right behind him in both sessions, pleased with his performance, but a bit annoyed at how small the gap was to pole. “In the first session, I missed out on the front row by just 16 thousandths,” he said. “In the second, I was 10 off pole.” Taponen got off the line well in the first race, to pass Camara and tuck in behind poleman Barnard with whom he scrapped all the way the chequered flag. A poor start saw Rafael drop to fourth but he took third off Mari Boya with an aggressive move at turn 1, for which he was penalised after the race, so that he was again fourth.

    Race-2. The top ten finishing order of the first race was reversed to form the grid for the second one, so that Camara and Taponen lined up seventh and ninth respectively. They both moved up two places by the chequered flag to finish fifth and seventh, with Camara pulling off a spectacular move on lap 3 to pass two cars in one move.

    Race-3. For the final race of the weekend, the two SFDA drivers locked out the front row of the grid. Camara led away from the lights and he and Taponen fought hard, with Tuukka getting ahead by the end of lap 2. Rafael gritted his teeth and retook the lead on the next lap before building up a 2 second lead by lap 12, when the Safety Car came out, with the race actually ending two laps early. The win sees Camara move up to fourth in the standings on 77 points.
    “It was great to finish the weekend on a high,” said Rafael with a smile at last.
    “Especially after such a tough fight for the first few laps with Tuukka! This weekend we looked good right from the start thanks to the work we did at the previous round at Yas Marina. It was a positive progression and so we scored plenty of points, more than anyone else – 47, against 42 for Taponen and 41 for Barnard – and I think we are on the right path. Now we must keep working to stay at this level. I want to thank the team, my mechanics and my engineer for doing a great job and I think we all deserved this win.” Taponen was also pleased” I’m very happy with how the weekend went overall, even if it was a slightly trickier weekend than the previous ones,” he said. “However, we still got some solid results.
    In all the races, I made the most of a good start and I have to say the races were hard fought and intense. I didn’t risk too much, but I battled hard with different drivers. Next weekend we go back to Yas Marina and it will be important to qualify at the front. The aim is to score as many points as possible as it’s the penultimate round and the final rush is not far off.”