Alexis Clapano has taken the 2018 RF2 Asia GP3 championship in Singapore! In an incident strewn race which saw a number of retirements and a dominant Daniele Vidimari claim a full house of pole position and victories in both races.
Vidimari did absolutely everything he could throughout the event, with a qualifying time of 1:54.189, some seven and a half tenths faster than Clapano. Speaking afterwards, Clapano explained that he felt he had the pace to take the fight to Vidimari in qualifying, but just couldn’t stitch a lap together. With a surprise, but welcome appearance from Arwin Taruna it was clear that the first race would be an explosive battle. However, a turn one incident where fourth place Chris Shire was tagged by Jason Back left chaos through the field. With Taruna’s unfortunate retirement with frame rate issues, it clearly became a two horse race between Vidimari and Clapano for the win. The two were neck and neck for the entire race, with lead swaps on lap 3 and 18. The pair were so dominant they lapped all but two of the field. Clapano, admittedly battling nerves, set remarkably consistent last times but eventually had to settle for second by just eight tenths of a second. Vidimari felt that he struggled in dirty air through much of the race, but pushed hard in the latter half for the win.
Further down the field saw an intense battle between Audie Devanugraha and Mark Robinson for the podium. Both had tactically not set a qualifying time and so avoided the Turn 1 incident. Devanugraha pushed hard, but ultimately his choice of the soft tyre left him outpaced by Robinson on the more durable mediums to secure the final podium position.
Race two saw a reverse grid with Chris Shire starting on the front row, with Devanugraha alongside. Shire bogged down off the start line which allowed Devanugraha to take the lead up the inside of Turn one. However, Devanugraha had a wobble coming out of T12 and Shire made an opportunistic dive for the lead at the end of the Anderson Bridge. However he admitted that the sight of a rapidly closing Vidimari and Clapano in his mirrors caused him to move over to let them past least he negatively affect the title fight. As Vidimari and Clapano once again streaked away, Shire settled for the final podium position.
A spirited drive from HengOn Sam enabled his best finish in the series in fourth place following the unfortunate retirements of Robinson and Devanugraha. The only other car left running was Chris Payne who steered his car with no prior practice but plenty of admirable steely determination to the finish.
The front pair were once again in a field of their own, although a rare mistake from Clapano meant he did not run Vidimari quite as close to the finish in race two. Vidimari suggested that keeping the focus in the race was challenging, but felt that the pressure was off him as he was chasing for the championship rather than defending a lead. He attributed his blistering pace to high downforce on the front wing and adjusting the rear to give speed through the corners. This pace led him to another dominant victory to complete a memorable event.
Is this the beginning of a rivalry between the Team RSI and ANBU racing drivers? One would hope so given the recent unveiling of RF2 Asia’s new open wheel championship in the Formula Renault 3.5’s. Vidimari explained that he had noticed Clapano’s speed in Endurance races in other series and is definitely considering an entry into the new open wheel series.
With the 2018 RF2 Asia GP3 championship drawing to a close, congratulations must be given to the champion Alexis Clapano who has achieved this through an impressive three wins, three pole positions and three fastest laps. Despite missing four races, his pace has been consistently outstanding and he is surely a worthy first champion in an RF2 Asia 2018 series.
Congratulations must also go to all 33 participants in races across the series. RF2 Asia prides itself on friendly and inclusive competition and the participants really make the series. Many thanks from the admin team to all those who have participated and we hope to see you compete in our other upcoming events in the future!
See you on track!