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Draeta domination at Imola!

Apex Racing Academy F3 VRS Super Series R2 Imola 

Raoul Hyman kicked off his Apex Racing Academy F3 VRS Super Series campaign with a dominant win at the Nurburgring last week. On the eve of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the ARA F3 paddock took to the virtual Imola circuit for round two of the championship. Utilising the dramatic, quick fire heat racing format, every place counts in ARA F3. An early mistake will punish a driver for the rest of the meeting.

Qio-Tiago Marteau kicked off proceedings on pole position for the opening heat race. Whilst unmitigated carnage unravelled further behind, a four-car pack made a swift brake away at the front. Brian Kroon, Jordan Kelly, Mitch Greene, and Qio-Tiago Marteau constantly switched positions throughout the opening laps.

Marteau was first to drop off the scent of the lead pack. A tap from Jordan Kelly under brakes into the Alta chicane was enough to spin Marteau’s Dallara around into a sub-optimal direction of travel.

While Kelly struggled to regroup after the incident, Brian Kroon and Mitch Greene made their escape at the front. Eventually, Mitch Greene stretched away to win the heat while Kroon faded into the clutches of the resurgent Kelly. Despite Kelly’s best efforts, Kroon managed to resist the challenge of the young Irishman.

Paulo Draeta exploited the privilege of pole position to full effect in the second heat. From the drop of the flag, the Brazilian bolted away to a comfortable victory ahead of Connor Bell.

For those who couldn’t grasp an automatic invite to the feature race from their heat, the consolation race loomed. Starting on pole position, Adam Coles enjoyed a clear view to turn one. However, Coles couldn’t escape the clutches of Jack Reeve and Damien McMullen in the early stages.

On the second lap, a collision between Coles and Reeve plucked the latter out of the lead battle. Although Coles carried on, the Briton’s Dallara was liberated of its front wing. Smelling blood, Chuck Mauro promptly arrived on the scene and pushed to the front. Despite a mistake on the next pass at Piratella, Mauro returned to the front of the pack without delay. This time Mauro made it stick and sealed the win. Maintaining consistency while others faltered, Damien McMullen finished second and booked his spot in the feature.

Mitch Greene and Paulo Draeta started on the front row of the grid for the feature race. Although Mitch Greene made a swift getaway into the lead, an unforced error on lap one handed the early advantage to Draeta.

Draeta soon settled into a rhythm, with Connor Bell close behind. While Draeta pushed on at the front, Bell’s challenge faded. Recovering from his heat race incident with Jordan Kelly, Qio-Tiago Marteau progressed to second place with five minutes to go. However, Draeta had already checked out for his first win of the season. Nevertheless, Marteau’s second place overall confirmed the Dutchman as the triumphant winner of the AM class.

Immediately after the chequered flag, several of the championship protagonists shared their thoughts with viewers on Apex Racing TV:

Will Redford: “I didn’t have a lot of practice. I hadn’t driven this combination until earlier today! I wasn’t feeling very confident about pushing the car. I just tried to bring it home.”

Connor Bell: “I’m pretty disappointed. I could have got a lot more points in that race. I was just over driving and pushing too much.”

Aaron Smith: “That was an amazing day today! I’m really happy with that, I’m ecstatic!”

Next up for the Apex Racing Academy F3 VRS Super Series is Circuit Zolder on Apex Racing TV on the 24th April. A highly technical challenge with few overtaking opportunities, this Belgian woodland circuit will pose a stern challenge to the ARA F3 paddock.

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