Gianluca Petecof claimed this year’s Formula Regional championship title in an action-packed final weekend at the Vallelunga circuit that went down to the wire in the third race, in which the Ferrari Driver Academy student finished fifth.
Satisfaction. “I am very, very happy,” commented Petecof. “It’s been a very tough year with more than a few difficult moments, especially in the mid-season. I gritted my teeth and I learned how important it is to do one’s best even when not fighting for the win. I knew just a few points would decide the title and I tried to avoid making mistakes and scoring as many as possible in every race. This result is down to all the hard work with the Prema team and the FDA over the course of the whole season.”
Arthur KO’d in qualifying. The excitement kicked off right from the start of qualifying. Having completed two laps in Q1, the other Prema and FDA driver, Arthur Leclerc had to stop with an engine problem, having failed to set a time. He thus found himself at the back of the grid for all three races, which was a real knock out blow given that he was only two points behind the leader Petecof. The 18 year old Brazilian did not have the best of times in qualifying either, securing fifth place on the grid for Race 1 and fourth and sixth for the last two races.
Race-1. Petecof was third for much of the first race on Saturday, but with six laps to go he had to give best to Patrik Pasma and came home fourth. However, it meant he extended his lead over Leclerc to six points. The Monegasque having started last, was very quick in the wet but on the opening lap, he spun, collecting Jamie Chadwick, which cost him a five second penalty. He still raced well, climbing to fifth at the flag, but classified sixth because of the penalty.
Race-3. More drama on Sunday morning: the rain was so heavy that Race 2 was cancelled, which meant the title would go down to the wire in Race 3. Track conditions improved a bit but the start was given behind the Safety Car, which stayed out for eight minutes, at which point Leclerc immediately tried to move up the order. He quickly made up four places but on lap 5, he spun off and got stuck in a gravel trap. It was a heartbreaking end for Arthur’s hopes for the title which thus fell to Petecof. Having been informed of Leclerc’s fate, Petecof took no risks and finished the last race of the year in fifth place. He took the title with 359 points and Leclerc was second, 16 points down.