Jamie Chadwick closes Formula Regional campaign with P7 in Vallelunga
In a rain-affected and shortened season finale, Jamie Chadwick rounded out her 2020 Formula Regional European Championship season with a P7 in Vallelunga, as Petecof clinched the title.
The final day of the 2020 Formula Regional European Championship season at Autodromo Piero Taruffi of Vallelunga started with a lengthy delay to Race 2, before the competition was finally called off due to the heavy rain that had fallen on the Italian venue.
The drivers thus had to wait until 14:00 local time after the rain had finally eased a bit, allowing cars on track.
W Series reigning champion Jamie Chadwick, behind the wheel of the #55 Rodin Cars-sponsored Prema car, had a positive final round in Vallelunga: with a third and sixth place in Friday practice sessions, the British racer was fourth fastest in qualifying - her best starting position of the season.
Unfortunately, Chadwick’s Race 1 was soon compromised by a contact with Prema teammate and championship contender Arthur Leclerc, who was forced to a charge from the back of the field after a blown engine in qualifying.
After an impressive start, quickly Leclerc caught up with the front-runners but went deep into Turn 8 and hit and spun around Jamie Chadwick. She would eventually cross the finish line in eighth place.
Following a dominant performance on Saturday, Oliver Rasmussen saw his title hopes fading away when the race direction ultimately scrapped Race 2 on Sunday morning, leaving only Petecof and Leclerc in the heated championship battle.
Rasmussen, though, was again starting from the top spot, sharing the first row with KIC Motorsport’s Patrik Pasma.
In very wet conditions but no more under the falling rain, the drivers followed the Safety Car for the opening minutes of the race, as they came to terms with the tricky grip levels even behind the pace car.
When the green flag was finally waved with 22 minutes left on the clock, Rasmussen held the lead and immediately openend a small gap over KIC teammates Pasma and Lappalainen. Hauger and Chovet followed.
Jamie Chadwick took the start from P7 after another solid Q2 on Saturday morning. She had a good restart and remained in the leader’s group, while Arthur Leclerc was again on a mission and was making up places at the back of the field. The Monegasque overtook Henrion, Pesce and Marinangeli - the latter going wide in a couple of occasions in the first laps.
Eighth-placed Leclerc caught up with Chadwick but, on lap 4, he made a mistake into Cimini corner and went off into the gravel trap. There, his championship hopes were wiped off - effectively handing the 2020 title to Gianluca Petecof.
The Safety Car was again called out to remove the stricken Prema and the race could resume on lap 7.
Meanwhile, Pasma had lost two places to the Van Amersfoort Racing drivers and struggled a bit more to keep up the pace with the top-3, as he also came under pressure from Petecof.
Ahead, Hauger and Chovet were closer than ever to Rasmussen, but they were never at striking distance.
Petecof pushed hard and went side by side with Pasma coming into the hairpin: the Finn went wide into the grass and dropped to eighth - also allowing past Jamie Chadwick, who advanced to P6.
Petecof got a warning flag for the pushing Pasma off, but no further action was required. Hauger set the fastest lap on lap 9 and closed in on Rasmussen, but the Dane responded back one lap later.
A recovering Pasma closed the gap on Chadwick and the battling duo would spend the remaining laps of the race in a tight fight for sixth place. Jamie drove defensively and could initially held position, but the KIC Motorsport’s driver - after receiving a warning for track limits - could ultimately pull a move on the British lady on the very final lap of the race.
After 16 laps in extremely tricky weather conditions, Oliver Rasmussen crossed the line to take a dominant win in Vallelunga’s season finale, followed by Dennis Hauger and Pierre-Louis Chovet.
Lappalainen, also setting the fastest lap of the race, would eventually overtake freshly-crowned champion Gianluca Petecof on the last lap and taking the chequered flag in fourth place.
Jamie Chadwick closed a roller-coaster of a championship with Vallelunga’s Race 3 in seventh position - showing skillful defensive driving and finishing ninth in championship standings, just one point behind Juri Vips.
Henrion, Marinangeli and Pesce rounded out the top-10.
Brazilian driver Gianluca Petecof, one year after being Italian F4 Vice-Champion, claims the very competitive Formula Regional European Championship title with 359 points - 16 points ahead of Arthur Leclerc and Oliver Rasmussen, both equal on points at 343.
“Obviously a challenging season, but lots of positives to take”, said Chadwick. “Personally, being part of a team like Prema, in a championship like this, has been an incredible experience for me” - she continued.
“To be part of that has been really cool and for sure I’ve learnt a huge amount with that.”
“From my side, on the results point of view, of course it has been really disappointing and frustrating not to be able to maximise the opportunity I’ve had, but ultimately lots of lessons have been learned and I hope this makes me a stronger driver going forward.”
The 23-year old Brit will return to the track on 20-21 March, as she will tackle the new Extreme-E championship with Veloce Sports - a completely new driving experience for her.
Returning to the more familiar environment of single seaters, we are likely to see Jamie Chadwick behind the wheel of a F3 car in the 2021 W Series championship, as she will try to defend her title.