We have already reached the halfway point of the 2022 Formula Challenge season. The first round was run behind closed doors and the second round was truly the embodiment of chaos. Turkka Hakkinen and Martin Hemmingsen took a victory each but Sander Kallas remains an ever-present threat as the Formula Pro Series Playoff draws ever closer.
Round 3’s location was Daytona International Speedway, specifically the old NASCAR layout. This offers a very different challenge to Spa-Francorchamps and Monza. Essentially a half-oval, managing cornering speed alongside your tactical decisions in slipstream trains would make or break an individual’s event.
Round 3 Daytona: Qualifying
Both winners to this point struggled greatly in qualifying with neither able to secure a top ten starting grid position. Hakkinen was over five tenths away from pole position in eleventh, while Hemmingsen was dismayed down in sixteenth; a far cry from his front row start just two weeks ago.
Jean Alesi Esports Academy has hedged their bets this season and this time their third pilot came through. A sensational lap from Joseph Hurlock came out of the blue to beat Philipp Drayss of the needracing.com team. Christian Michel has been a consistent force in the top ten this year and would line up third with his best shot at the top spot thus far.
Darius Andrei and Sander Kallas looked strong once more while Jordy Zwiers was back on the pace.
Round 3 Daytona: Race
Unique for this particular circuit, the Formula Challenge grid made a rolling start. On paper, this should have given Hurlock better tools to defend with as the lights went green. His reaction time was sluggish, however, and almost led to Drayss taking the lead. Timotej Andonovski, meanwhile, flew up the order in his R8G machine to fourth. This wouldn’t last long thanks to Zwiers and his early pace.
Starting in the midfield did not pay well for either Hemmingson or Hakkinen, both in the barriers before the five-minute mark had been reached.
A lap later, Drayss slipped up the inside of Hurlock; his compromised line allowing Zwiers to rob Michel of third. The Brit then mounted the Bus Stop chicane which cost him a further five places.
Zwiers had done well to this point but was swiftly re-passed by Michel. Then came Andonovski who pushed him down to fourth. Although Zwiers was swiftly back onto the podium, the flux between the three was giving Drayss the room to stretch his legs up front.
The R8G driver cracked under the pressure just shy of 30 minutes left to run – the Bus Stop chicane claiming another victim. It was a big hit this time and the North Macedonian was ruled out of major points contention. Then it was the turn of Zwiers who got caught up in a spin following Michel into Turn 1.
The sadness of others was the happiness of Andrei and Kallas who had been promoted into the battle for the final podium slot. Kallas made good on this opportunity slipping through just five minutes on from the carnage.
The Estonian was not done there either, eagerly jumping into combat with Michel with successful results. It was turning into a stunning drive from the championship leader, even despite the German finding a way back through.
The move of the race would arrive towards the end as Andrei, now involved in the podium fight, went under the double-yellow lines to double-overtake both Michel and Kallas. An extraordinary manoeuvre that was so outside of the box that its legality was questioned by the commentators!
Kallas, unflappable, would not be deterred and found it within himself to muster two final, definitive overtakes that netted him second. With Drayss claiming victory seconds ahead, the scene was very different for Andrei and Michel as they crossed the line side-by-side with thousandths in it. Michel finished just outside the podium spots in fourth.
Then came the final twist in the tale, delivered with brutal timing by the race stewards. Andrei’s move of the race was deemed illegal and thus a ten-second time penalty was applied moments after the chequered flag had flown, elevating Michel to third.
2022 Formula Challenge Series, Round 3 Daytona results
- Philipp Drayss – needracing.com
- Sander Kallas – SimRacing Club
- Christian Michel – Cetrez Nitor Velox
- Jordy Zwiers – Jean Alesi Esports Academy
- Joseph Hurlock – Jean Alesi Esports Academy
- Jimi Nisula – Satellite Racing
- Daniel Stepkowski – Rookie Sim Racing
- Rory MadDuff – Cetrez Nitor Velox
- Jelle Binsbergen – Jean Alesi Esports Academy
- Darius Andrei* – Volante Racing
* Post-race penalty applied
2022 FORMULA CHALLENGE SCHEDULE
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