Wahbeh breaks Aberdein's F4UAE winning streak for Team Motopark

Wahbeh breaks Aberdein's F4UAE winning streak for Team Motopark

30.01.2017: Team Motopark’s Jonathan Aberdein has won two from three races at the third round of the 2016/17 Formula 4 UAE Championship





Team Motopark’s Jonathan Aberdein has won two from three races at the third round of the 2016/17 Formula 4 UAE Championship, but it was his Venezuelan teammate Sebastian Wahbeh who became the first new driver to claim victory in the inaugural season of the Middle East’s newest open-wheeler championship.
 


For the first two championship rounds, the experienced German F4 team had claimed victory in all seven previous races thanks to South African, Aberdein (#21), but Motopark’s expansion from a two-car to four-car operation at the Dubai Autodrome round this weekend saw added competition among the field.



Wahbeh – who competed fulltime in the Italian F4 Championship last year with one race win and pole position to his credit – was well equipped to apply pressure to the established outfit.



Finishing second in his first race on Friday evening, the 16-year-old claimed honours in the reverse grid Race 9 on Saturday morning with Team Motopark principal Timo Rumpfkeil impressed with how his new driver performed.



“Sebastian showed good results, strong pace, he had two front-row qualifying results, a second place finish and one win, so it’s all positive for his development as a racing driver,” said Rumpfkeil.



“He has already done his winter testing in Europe but this was the first time he has driven the German F4-spec car. With his plans to race again in Italy in a few months time, it was really important for him to get back into racing mode and we’re happy with how he has competed against everyone and also worked with the team.



“For Jonathan, there has been a lot of pressure on him this year, especially with his teammate Logan [Sargeant] pushing him the whole time.



He was unlucky not to get that win at the end of the day Sebastian was there, and it is unrealistic to win everything. But these results are good preparation for European racing which starts in a few months time,” concluded Rumpfkeil.



Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of ATCUAE and Emirates Motor Sports Foundation, added his praise for all competitors as the season heads towards its final two rounds.



“I would like to congratulate all of our competitors for their sportsmanship and passion in developping their racing careers here in the UAE. We are very happy to see everyone improving their results, especially our drivers from the GCC, and we wish everyone all the best as we end the year at Yas Marina Circuit in the next two months,” said Ben Sulayem.





PRACTICE & QUALIFYING SUMMARY



Sixteen-year-old Wahbeh (#7) and circuit racing debutant Charles Weerts (#25) from Belgium both impressed for Team Motpark early in the weekend, never sitting outside the top four positions through official practice and qualifying.



Wahbeh was the first driver to lap the Dubai circuit in the 1m37s bracket, until Aberdein topped qualifying for the third straight event with a best lap of 1m37.591s. Dubai-based Sean Babington (#4) from Energy Dubai F4 Racing Team qualified fastest of the local drivers in fifth, behind the four Team Motopark competitors.




RACE SUMMARIES



Aberdein lead from pole position to his eighth race win of the championship, while his full-season teammate and leading rookie Sargeant stalled off the startline. Wahbeh benefitted, moving from third to second place, where he remained until the end of the 20mins session.


An eventful reverse grid Race 9 on Saturday morning saw Rasgaira’s David Malukas from the USA take the lead on lap one, holding off the majority of the field until Wahbeh charged from the last row to first place by the completion of the race.



Holding out the remaining hungry Team Motopark drivers, Malukas claimed his second podium finish in second outright, ahead of Aberdein in third.



Australian Oscar Piastri (88) from Dragon F4 and Babington maintained third and fourth positions respectively for most of the first race, until Sargeant carved through the field to overtake both by the chequered flag, and taking the final step on the podium.



First lap incidents in Saturday morning’s Race 9 saw Sargeant and Weerts both suffering front-end damage; Sargeant by out-braking himself at turn one and meeting the tyre barriers, while Weerts collided with Qatar’s Ahmad Al Muhannadi.



Piastri and Babington again finished fourth and fifth, with Piastri’s results being his highest to date after only having made his circuit-racing debut at the last round in Abu Dhabi.



With Race 10’s starting grid decided by each driver’s second-fastest qualifying lap, Team Motopark had the advantage rom the get-go with Aberdein and Sargeant back on the top two steps of the podium, with Babington claiming his sixth third-place finish for the season. Wahbeh finished seventh after stewards gave him a drive-through penalty for a jump start.




GCC NATIONS TROPHY


In the battle of the GCC competitors, QMMF F4 Team’s Abdulrahman Tolefat (#20) showed consistent improvement on his previous lap times after having benefitted from extended pre-event testing. However, Qatar teammate Ahmad Al Muhannadi (#22) was able to qualify fastest and finish first across all three races.



With the weekend seeing F4UAE promoters introducing the new GCC Nations Trophy plate – awarded to the highest-placed finishing GCC driver for every race of the season moving forward – Al Muhannadi was awarded the GCC honours, and leads the points standings for the outright GCC Nations Cup title set to be awarded at season's end; a big achievement considering the 2016/17 F4UAE season is his first in circuit racing.




SUMMARY



South African Jonathan Aberdein maintains his driver’s championship points lead heading into the penultimate round of the 2016/17 F4UAE Championship at the Home of F4UAE, Yas Marina Circuit.



Round four of F4UAE, scheduled from February 10-11, will see Races 11 to 14 of the season contested at the Abu Dhabi circuit and remaining there for the season finale in March.



More information about F4UAE can be found at www.f4uae.com






 Sura Manhal,  Automobile and Touring Club of UAE  photos

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/wahbeh-break-aberdein-f4uae-team-motopark---160314.html

30.01.2017 / MaP

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