Pierre-Louis Chovet Strengthens Championship Lead as Title Fight Goes Down to the Wire

Pierre-Louis Chovet Strengthens Championship Lead as Title Fight Goes Down to the Wire

14.02.2021: - Two wins for Pinnacle Motorsport talent earn Frenchman 32-point Driver Classification lead - Patrik Pasma and 3Y Evans GP celebrate maiden series victory in Race 11 - Guanyu Zhou keeps title hopes alive with two podiu

- Two wins for Pinnacle Motorsport talent earn Frenchman 32-point Driver Classification lead



- Patrik Pasma and 3Y Evans GP celebrate maiden series victory in Race 11


- Guanyu Zhou keeps title hopes alive with two podium finishes





The competition for the 2021 F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA title intensified this weekend at the 5.39km Dubai Autodrome, with the Round 4 triple header bringing both elation and heartache in equal measure.


Pinnacle Motorsport’s Pierre-Louis Chovet took victory in Races 10 and 12 to further strengthen his points lead in the Driver Classification, while 3Y Evans GP’s Patrik Pasma delivered the team their maiden championship win in Race 11, and finished third in the final race of the weekend.



Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Guanyu Zhou fought hard to keep his title hopes alive despite an eventful three races, his points haul from runner-up finishes in Races 10 and 11, plus a heroic comeback in Race 12, ensuring he remains in title contention heading into the season finale.


Hitech Grand Prix’s Red Bull Junior Team driver Ayumu Iwasa took his first overall podium and debut Rookie Cup win in Race 10, while series newcomer David Vidales of Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema impressed with a second-place finish in just his third championship race.


Iwasa’s team mate Reece Ushijima also took his first Rookie Cup win in Race 11, collecting a second in Race 12 after Motorscape’s Roberto Faria picked up a post-race penalty.


Chovet heads into the season finale with a healthy but not unassailable lead at the top of the Driver Classification with 221 points, 32 ahead of Zhou. Mumbai Falcons India Racing Ltd.’s Jehan Daruvala, who endured an unlucky Round 3, remains in mathematical title contention on 156 points, with a maximum 75 up for grabs in the final three races. However, with the top nine all set to earn super license points, much remains at stake for the front runners.



In the Rookie Cup, Iwasa leads the way on 176 points, 14 clear of Hitech Grand Prix team mate Ushijima, while BlackArts Racing’s Cem Bolukbasi climbs to fourth behind Evans GP’s Isack Hadjar. In the race for the Teams title, Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema continues to top the table ahead of Pinnacle Motorsport, Evans GP, Mumbai Falcons India Racing Ltd., Hitech Grand Prix, BlackArts Racing and Motorscape.


The fifth and final round of the 2021 F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA season will be held on February 19 and 21 at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit, where the three titles – Driver, Rookie Cup and Team – will be decided across three 30-minute races.



Race 10




Guanyu Zhou took pole position for the first race of Round 3, with points leader Pierre-Louis Chovet alongside and Ayumu Iwasa and Jehan Daruvala behind on the second row.


It was all change as the lights went out though when, despite the pole-sitter making a good start, Chovet’s was masterful, the Frenchman plunging into the lead into Turn 1. Zhou fought back, getting alongside as the pair hurtled through the corners, but Chovet held firm.



Patrik Pasma was another driver to make a blinding getaway, catapulting from seventh on the grid to third in the order by the end of the opening lap, leading Iwasa, Daruvala and Roman Stanek. However, the Finn was to pay the price post-race. Having gained two places when he left the track, Pasma handed one back but was given a one-place penalty by the Stewards for failing to concede the second.


Daruvala’s team mate Kush Maini, who had taken a 10-place grid penalty hit for an engine change, was back in the pits with a gear issue early on, but it was not the last to be seen of the young Indian. His Mumbai Falcons India Racing Ltd. team got him back out on track and, although he only completed eight of the 15-lap race, he set the fastest time, thereby securing pole position for Race 11.



With one third of the 30-minute race gone, Chovet looked comfortable in the lead but Zhou made sure he continued to fill the Pinnacle Motorsport driver’s mirrors. Pasma, meanwhile, was keeping the leading pair within striking distance should either blink, but was unable to get close enough to the Chinese driver ahead to make a move.


Likewise, try as he might, Zhou couldn’t rattle the ice-cool Chovet and was losing out to his rival on the straights
despite gaining in the corners.



Further down the order behind Iwasa, Daruvala and Stanek, Cem Bolukbasi continued to show improved form, climbing to seventh ahead of Roy Nissany, Roberto Faria and series newcomer David Vidales.


In the dying minutes of the race, just as Rafael Villagomez had found his way past Alexander Bardinon, the pair were involved in an incident along with Lorenzo Fluxa. That brought out the safety car and, for the first time this season, the cars filed across the finish line behind it.



Chovet took a well deserved fifth championship win to further increase his points lead, while Zhou moved up to second in the Driver Classification. Pasma was third on the road but his penalty dropped him to fourth. That promoted Iwasa to third, the talented Japanese driver taking his first series overall podium as well as his maiden Rookie Cup victory.




Race 11



Saturday’s Race 11 was another which was high on drama. Kush Maini lined up on pole for the first time in the championship, with Patrik Pasma alongside and Guanyu Zhou and Pierre-Louis Chovet behind. As the lights went out, a canny Maini made a textbook start, pulling across to close the door on Pasma while Chovet got by Zhou behind, just as he had done in Race 10.



This time though Zhou was determined to keep his title rival behind him and fought back hard, despite coming under pressure from Roman Stanek behind. Zhou made his move on Chovet, diving past and up to third, but the Frenchman fell into the clutches of the hard charging pack, dropping down to fifth.



Suddenly, as if from nowhere, Roy Nissany appeared in the mix having launched through the field from P8. The Hitech Grand Prix driver ploughed past Zhou and up to third on the opening lap.



As Maini set about trying to pull a gap from Pasma, further down the order Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Amna Al Qubaisi and Evens GP’s Irina Sidorkova had a coming together at Turn 11. The incident ended the race for the Emirati while the Russian able to continue, but their clash brought out the safety car.


At the restart at the beginning of Lap 7, Maini made a clean getaway to hold the lead, but Pasma was on the attack, diving first on the outside then the inside, the pair two abreast before the Finn made the move stick and roared off in search of his first championship victory.


For Maini though, disaster was about to strike after Nissany mounted an energetic bid to snatch second. The pair made contact, the incident ending both their races and bringing out the safety car for a second time with a little over 10 minutes remaining on the clock.


As the two cars were recovered, the clock counted down to zero and Pasma took his and Evans GP’s maiden championship victory behind the safety car, becoming the fourth winner this season and leading home Zhou and Chovet. David Vidales was fourth on the road, but a five second post-race penalty for contact with Roberto Faria dropped him to 11th.



That promoted Roman Stanek to fourth, with Hitech Grand Prix’s Reece Ushijima fifth overall and taking his first Rookie Cup victory ahead of fellow rookies Alex Connor of Evans GP and the BlackArts Racing trio of Lorenzo Fluxa, Cem Bolukbasi and Rafael Villagomez. Pinnacle Motorsport’s Alessio Deledda rounded out the top ten.



While Zhou had closed the gap to championship leader Chovet to just 19 points, fellow title contender Jehan Daruvala finished out of the points for the first time this season, crossing the line in 12th behind Alessio Deledda.



Race 12


Guanyu Zhou lined up on pole for the final race of Round 3, with Ayumu Iwasa alongside, but both stumbled as the lights went out and were quickly swamped by the oncoming field, dropping down to 15th and 18th in the order respectively.


Pierre-Louis Chovet in P3 didn’t need a second invitation and led the field away as the front row pair were swamped. David Vidales also didn’t hesitate, ploughing past Patrik Pasma and up to second behind the Frenchman. Kush Maini also made a good start and was up to fifth from P8 behind Brazilian Roberto Faria.



The action was suspended almost as soon as it began when Rookie Cup driver Amna Al Qubaisi spun and hit the barrier, her stranded car bringing out the safety car. At the restart, Chovet expertly controlled the pack, but Vidales and Pasma stayed with the leader.


Further down the order, Jehan Daruvala was looking to pass Cem Bolukbasi, the Indian driver diving down the inside. The pair made contact and came to a halt in front of Alexandre Bardinon who had nowhere to go. The incident brought out the red flag and the remaining field filed in to pit lane.



The clock was reset to give 15 more minutes at the restart, and again Chovet led the way, but Pasma was all over the back of Vidales into Turn 1. Zhou continued his strong recovery, passing both Reece Ushijima and Roy Nissany to climb to sixth in the order behind Kush Maini and Faria. The Chinese ace wasn’t done yet though, climbing to fourth before the flag.



Up ahead there was no stopping Chovet, who crossed the line 2.454 seconds ahead of Vidales, with Pasma taking the final podium place ahead of Zhou. Faria was fifth on the road before a post-race penalty dropped him to ninth, which promoted Maini, Ushijima, Nissany, Rafael Villagomez and Iwasa up one place, with Iwasa claiming the final championship point.







Nikki Kemp - photos FIA F3 Asia

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14.02.2021 / MaP

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