(Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates): Italian racer Andrea Kimi Antonelli was crowned champion at the 2023 Giti-Powered Formula Regional Middle East Championship (FRMEC) after the final round at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Antonelli and main title rival, Taylor Barnard, battled for the lead in Race One and the spectators saw Antonelli take the chequered flag. However, due to a penalty for a collision, the 16-year-old Italian was left without a single race win on Sunday, 19 February 2023. Despite this setback, Antonelli still maintained his points lead to emerge as the overall champion of the series.
This was the first time after Covid-19 that the Yas Marina Circuit was graced with an overwhelming crowd who were excited to witness cars zipping around and fans cheering on their favourite teams. The fans also had an opportunity to get up close and personal with their favourite drivers and cars on race track before the start of the final race.
British racer Barnard’s struggle away from the startline in Race Two effectively settled the championship in favour of Antonelli. In the final, Antonelli applied constant pressure to Barnard’s PHM Racing team-mate Nikita Bedrin before finishing a close second. For 17-year-old Bedrin, it was a fine way to end the season and resulted in his second victory in this season’s FRMEC.
Mari Boya was elevated to victory for Hyderabad Blackbirds by MP Motorsport in the Race One following Antonelli’s penalty. The 18-year-old Spaniard had just passed team-mate Sami Meguetounif for third place when Antonelli made contact with Barnard, spinning the Briton towards the tail of the field. That was enough for Boya to claim the win from Frenchman, Meguetounif, and Mumbai Falcons’ Ferrari Driver Academy youngster, Rafael Câmara, who took the Rookie Cup.
Another Spaniard, Pepe Martí, triumphed in race two after a terrific drive from fifth on the grid. The 17-year-old Pinnacle VAR racer had to close in on long-time leader Michael Shin and passed him in the closing stages of the race. While that was disappointing for South Korean Shin, second place was by far the best FRMEC result for the Prema Racing man and he also scored Rookie Cup honours. Third went to Mumbai Falcons racer, Kirill Smal.
In the final race, Câmara bagged another third place behind Bedrin and Antonelli in an all-rookie podium. Both the Brazilian and Mumbai Falcons team-mate Lorenzo Fluxá had arrived in Abu Dhabi with the slenderest of mathematical chances of the title, but were eliminated from contention after Race One. Nevertheless, the two podium finishes meant Câmara defeated Spaniard Fluxá to third place in the final standings by nine points.
At the top of the table, Antonelli finished the season heading Barnard by 40 points and Câmara by 61. Antonelli also claimed the Rookie Cup title in Race Two, with Barnard finishing second in this classification and Nikhil Bohra grabbing third from Câmara on a results tiebreak. With this, the Mumbai Falcons had swooped the Teams title.
At the closing of the 2023 Formula Regional Middle East Championship, Giti adds yet another victory to its impressive track record at races around the world. When asked about the Giti’s top highlight of being at these acclaimed races, Chris Bloor, Executive Director of International Sales & Marketing at Giti Tire, commented: “adding on to our focus on environmentally friendly tires for electric vehicles, it really rounds up the focus on results and performance on the track.”