Absolute Racing drivers managed to salvage points from a very tough second F3 Asian Championship meeting of the season at the Dubai Autodrome.
The weekend delivered yet another rollercoaster set of results for the Absolute Racing squad, with changeable weather conditions and tire degradation upsetting much of the running order for the Asian F3 grid during the action-packed rounds 4, 5 and 6.
Qualifying took place on Thursday with Devlin DeFrancesco completing the laps with consistent, solid times which enabled him to start eighth on the grid for race one just a tenth of seventh. Whilst Jamie Chadwick was tenth and Tommy Smith was only fourteenth. On the second qualifying session Chadwick found even more pace to post a 1:53.878 which placed her in P8 for the last race of the weekend. DeFrancesco qualified tenths as Smith managed to set the eleventh fastest lap time.
Thursday ended with race one which proved to be a thrilling race for the crowds with DeFrancesco finishing fifth, just ahead of Chadwick, who climbed four positions to finish sixth. Starting from P14 in the grid, a non less impressive Smith finished in eight, following a great start and 16 strong laps.
Two more races were scheduled for Friday. With the fastest laps setting the grid for round 5, the second race of the weekend took place in the morning and saw Absolute Racing drivers starting from P8 (DeFrancesco), P11 (Smith) and P12 (Chadwick). Due to the rain overnight, the first wet race of the season had two formation laps and its duration was reduced to 27 minutes.
After making a stunning start on the greasy track, DeFrancesco moved up four positions to fourth. The Canadian ace regrettably tumbled down the order as soon as he started struggling with wet tyre sudden degradation and eventually crossed the line frustrated in P6.
Caught in the messy mid-field, contact in lap five derailed Chadwick chances of moving up the order and into the points-scoring zone and she eventually crossed the line in P12. Blamed for the contact with his teammate, Smith received drive through converted to a 20-second time penalty. The Australian racer finished sixth overall, dropping down the ranks to P13 after the penalty.
Race three saw DeFrancesco moving into the top-five after six laps. Once again, the Canadian driver struggled to keep his tires alive in the race, losing two positions and getting back one spot just before the chequered flag. Due to a rival’s penalty DeFrancesco was promoted into the top-five again and took points for a four place finish.
2019 W Series Champion Chadwick lapped most of the race in ninth, moving up to eight with five laps to go, coming way with points for a seventh place finish. Smith endured a tough last race, also struggling with the tire degradation. He managed to move into the scoring positions on lap 10, but eventually had to settle for 12th place in the final classification.
After two rounds and six races, the Absolute Racing trio of DeFrancesco, Chadwick and Smith lie fourth, ninth and thirteenth respectively. Absolute Racing remains second in the Teams’ standings.
The F3 Asian Championship will stay in the Middle East. The next event takes place in the state-of-art Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi from 16th to 18th of January.
Ingo Matter (Team Director): “We leave Dubai with a sense of unrealised potential. Overall the results were not what we expected. Ultimately, our race results were determined by the qualifying sessions result, which put us on the back foot in terms of track position. Nevertheless Devlin and Jamie managed to score points in every race and Tommy showed a great upwards trend throughout the entire event There was some great racing in the middle pack with our drivers deeply involved. We now look forward and work hard to prepare for next week’s race at the Yas Marina circuit.”
15 Jamie Chadwick (Q1: P10 / Q2: P8 / Rnd 4: P6 / Rnd 5: P12 / Rnd 6: P8): “Dubai threw a lot at us with mixed conditions and unexpected tire degradation. All three races were pretty chaotic so I was happy to get some points on the board. We made some good steps as a team and I’m excited to push for more in Abu Dhabi next weekend.”
16 Tommy Smith (Q1: P14 / Q2: P11 / Rnd 4: P8 / Rnd 5: P13 / Rnd 6: P12): “I knew the weekend was going to be tough going into it as I had never been to the Dubai Autodrome before. Qualifying was a disaster not putting everything together and therefore had to start a long way back for the races. Race 1 I came from 14th to finish in my highest ever position in 8th. Race 2 I was starting out of 11th and ended up finishing in 6th but unfortunately I happened to hit my teammate Jamie mid race, giving me a 20-second time penalty which ruined a good result. I started 11th for the last race. It was a very difficult race with tire degradation, finishing in a disappointing 12th. Overall it was an up and down weekend but for sure there were signs of improvement from Malaysia.”
17 Devlin DeFrancesco (Q1: P7/ Q2: P10 / Rnd 4: P5 / Rnd 5: P6 / Rnd 6: P5): “Overall, I think we’ve had a solid weekend. We’ve been hugely consistent despite struggling with tire degradation and have added a good haul of points to our tally. Obviously we’re heading straight into the race at Yas Marina so we have to now just look forward to that, but overall I think we can be happy with what we’ve done this weekend.”