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F3 Regional: Jamie Chadwick P8 in Vallelunga Race 1 after being spun on opening lap

After her best qualifying of the season, British racer Jamie Chadwick was spun around on the opening lap of the first race in Vallelunga, in Formula Regional European Championship’s final round of 2020.

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The eighth and final round of the 2020 Formula Regional European Championship got underway in Vallelunga, outskirts of Rome, where Arthur Leclerc, Gianluca Petecof and Oliver Rasmussen are fighting for championship glory.

In the first race of the weekend, the Prema Danish driver started from pole after dominating the qualifying sessions this morning. On the other end, Leclerc took the start at the tail-end of the grid following an engine issue that forced him to sit out both Q1 and Q2. The Monegasque, who was 2 points adrift championship leader Gianluca Petecof, was on a mission to recover the most places - with his main rival starting fifth.

W Series reigning champion Jamie Chadwick enjoyed her best qualifying of the season and clinched an impressive fourth place in Q1 in remerkably difficult conditions: heavy showers overnight had in fact washed out the track, but the rain had ceased hours before the start of the on-track action.

On a still very slippery and tricky track, Chadwick shone.

“Q1 was surprising actually.” - she told us. “The pace didn’t feel that good, but for physical position to start fourth it’s really good, I think it’s the best qualifying we’ve had, so really happy with that." - she concluded.

When the lights went out in the early afternoon in Vallelunga, Rasmussen held the top position from Van Amersfoort’s Dennis Hauger and Pierre-Louis Chovet. Jamie Chadwick dropped to fifth when Petecof had a better getaway - but it was Arthur Leclerc to impress, moving ahead of Marinangeli, Pesce and Henrion in the opening corners.

Unfortunately, the driver of the #14 Prema Tatuus T318 went a bit too hot into turn 8 and hit Chadwick - spinning the Rodin Cars-sponsored Prema.

The 23-year old lady rejoined quickly, but dropped to ninth, as also Marinangeli spun on the first lap.

Leclerc was quickly under the stewards scrutiny and he received a 5 second-penalty for the accident.

Ahead, Hauger found a way past Rasmussen for the lead but the Dane remained at striking distance. Chovet also came under increasing pressure from Patrik Pasma and on lap 8, the Finn made the move stick and advanced to fourth.

Chovet’s charge, though, was short-lived as the Frenchman came to a halt in the run off of Turn 8 and retired. No Safety Car was necessary to remove the stricken Van Amersfoort’s car though.

Rasmussen tried to win his leading position back and signed a series of fastest laps, but he couldn’t ultimately attempt a move.

Leclerc charged back - he attacked and passed Henrion, with Jamie Chadwick also close behind. The Brit was significantly faster than the Gillian Track Events’ driver, but struggled to pass when she got closer.

Leclerc chased Lappalainen with a fastest lap and moved up to fifth - but the championship fight was kept alive by Patrik Pasma, who overtook Petecof on lap 13. Pasma would later get past Rasmussen as well to claim second, while Hauger extended his lead in the final laps and crossed the line to take his first win of the season.

Pasma and Rasmussen claimed the final podium positions, ahead of Gianluca Petecof - who could nonetheless extend his championship lead over Leclerc, the latter finishing fifth on track but was classified sixth after the penalty was applied to his total race time.

Jamie Chadwick was P8 and led Pesce and Marinangeli to round out the top-10.

“A bit frustrating as I think we actually had quite a good pace today.” - she said.

“Of all the races this year where this could have happened, this one was probably the one that had the most tricky conditions.”

“Actually our pace in the end wasn’t so good for the whole team, I think we can make some improvements tomorrow and even if I’m starting a bit further back we can still have a better day.”

“It was an ok race, I just struggled when I got close to the car in front - I couldn’t follow and I couldn’t challenge for a move even though I thought if I was past him maybe I could have much better pace. I think tomorrow will be even wetter, so let’s see.”

The final day of the Formula Regional European Championship 2020 season will see Race 2 and 3 going green on Sunday morning and early afternoon - at 09:00 and 14:00 CEST respectively. Jamie Chadwick will take the start from the seventh grid slot.

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