2023 REVIEW - fORMULA regional

Today we take a look back at all the Formula Regional level racing series in 2023, including series such as the GB3 Championship, Eurocup-3 or Super Formula Lights. We started the year with Formula Regional Middle East and Formula Regional Oceania in January and February, before heading into the main seasons in Europe, the US and Japan.


At the start of the year, the Middle East was mainly home to drivers preparing for the Formula Regional and Formula 3 seasons in Europe. On the first weekend in Dubai, Gabriele Minì and Andrea Kimi Antonelli secured pole positions for the main races 1 and 3. Minì maintained his lead at the beginning of the first race, with Dino Beganovic overtaking Antonelli for second place. Despite two safety car interventions, Minì and Beganovic fiercely contested the lead throughout the race. A timing glitch displayed the "last lap" message prematurely, and Minì's team mistakenly conveyed this information to him. As a result, he slowed down, allowing Matías Zagazeta to claim second place, while Taylor Barnard, starting from 27th, impressively secured third. The second race, featuring Nikhil Bohra's lights-to-flag victory from the reverse-grid pole, proceeded smoothly. Aiden Neate finished in second, and Barnard, starting in 22nd, once again claimed third. In the third race, Mari Boya surpassed Antonelli on the first lap and maintained the lead, securing a gap and controlling the race. The race proceeded without interruptions, and Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak secured third place. Antonelli's consistent performance propelled him to a six-point lead over Rafael Câmara in the overall standings. 


In the first FR-level race at Kuwait Motor Town, newcomer Joshua Dürksen began on pole, but a chaotic first corner led to multiple crashes, including the poleman's retirement. Beganovic seized the opportunity, leading the restart and securing the win ahead of Antonelli. Race two saw lead changes, with Dufek initially winning but later disqualified, promoting Barnard to victory. The final race had Meguetounif on pole, holding off Dürksen, but Antonelli extended his championship lead despite not winning a race. In the subsequent Kuwait race, Antonelli gained ground in race one, overtaking Dürksen and eventually winning. Debutant Smal led race two briefly, but Antonelli, starting tenth, climbed steadily to secure another victory. Antonelli led race three off-track, anticipating a penalty, but tire wear led to him falling behind Barnard, who claimed the win. Despite a penalty, Antonelli's double win increased his lead to 44 points over Barnard.


In the penultimate round in Dubai, Antonelli and Bedrin shared poles. Antonelli dropped to third in the first race but fought back to lead through a safety car restart, with teammate Câmara following. Martí led the reverse grid race, while Barnard and Antonelli climbed to the top five. Bedrin defended his pole in race three, but multiple safety car periods led to Barnard's maiden win, increasing Antonelli's lead by a single point to 45.


The final round at Yas Marina Circuit saw Antonelli rear-end Barnard, earning a penalty and promoting Boya to the lead. Despite a late safety car, Antonelli and Barnard remained pointless. In race two, Martí won, while Barnard struggled, securing Antonelli's championship. Bedrin won the disrupted third race. The championship was dominated by rookies, with Antonelli's consistency securing the title. Barnard faced challenges, but the season showcased a smooth transition from Asian to Middle Eastern moniker, maintaining high interest and participation.


At the beginning of the year, drivers from Europe, the USA and New Zealand came together in New Zealand to fight it out for the title in the former Toyota Racing Series. The inaugural weekend of the rebranded Formula Regional Oceania Championship took place at Highlands Motorsport Park. Callum Hedge secured pole for the first race, maintaining the lead from the start, with Charlie Wurz advancing to second. Throughout the race, Hedge successfully defended against Wurz, who, in turn, fended off David Morales. A safety car was deployed after Ryan Shehan's crash, concluding the race under caution. In the reversed-grid race two, James Penrose dominated, while Wurz faced a setback in a failed attempt for second, allowing Ryder Quinn to claim a podium spot. The third race saw Hedge starting on pole, but Morales quickly took the lead. Hedge later pitted for damage, elevating Wurz to second and Sceats to third. Wurz left Otago as the points leader, narrowly ahead of Morales.


A week later at Teretonga Park, Wurz claimed victory in the first race after a better start than Hedge, who finished second. In the wet race two, Quinn initially led but Hedge emerged victorious in challenging conditions. Wurz secured pole for the final race and dominated to claim another lights-to-flag win. With two wins, Wurz extended his championship lead by 25 points. Hedge's strong performances elevated him to second in the standings, while Abel took third.


The grid expanded to 16 cars for the third round at Manfeild. Indy Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster immediately impressed, winning the wet first race after passing Wurz following a safety car restart. In race two, Foster climbed from seventh to challenge for the lead, with Josh Mason holding on for the win. The third race witnessed a collision between Foster and Wurz, leading to Penrose's victory. Wurz's lead in the standings diminished to just six points ahead of Hedge.


Twenty cars participated in the New Zealand Grand Prix weekend at Hampton Downs. Race one's front row featured debutant Laurens van Hoepen and returnee Kaleb Ngatoa. Ngatoa led most of the race but made a slight mistake on the final lap, allowing van Hoepen to challenge. However, Ngatoa held on to secure the victory. Hedge finished third in race one but faced electrical issues in race two. Wurz won race two from pole, fending off Abel and securing victory. In the Grand Prix, van Hoepen started on pole but was initially overtaken by Foster. Van Hoepen regained the lead and won the Grand Prix, with Hedge finishing third. The championship lead shifted between Wurz and Hedge during the weekend, with Wurz now ten points ahead.


The season finale at Taupo saw Hedge taking the pole for race one, winning the disrupted race, and extending his lead. Chloe Chambers made history by winning the reversed-grid race two, while Wurz finished third, regaining the championship lead. In the final race, Wurz started from pole, held the lead, and secured the championship, with Hedge finishing fourth.


The 2023 season marked a strong restart for the category. Wurz and Hedge consistently performed well, but the championship dynamics could have been different if van Hoepen and Foster had contested the entire season. Despite limited preparation, both showed impressive speed. Foster earned four podiums in nine races, and van Hoepen had only one non-podium finish in six starts. The Wurz vs. Hedge rivalry remained intense and unpredictable throughout the season.


The 2023 Formula Regional European Championship kicked off at Imola, with Martinius Stenshorne of R-ace GP securing pole for the first race. Despite pressure from three Prema cars, Stenshorne led until a red flag due to a crash ended the race prematurely. The podium featured Prema drivers Andrea Kimi Antonelli and Rafael Câmara. In race two, VAR's Kas Haverkort claimed victory after incidents, placing Stenshorne in second and giving him the championship lead. Antonelli and Tim Tramnitz shared poles at Barcelona. Tramnitz won both races, extending his lead over Antonelli. At the Hungaroring, Stenshorne reclaimed the lead with a pole and race one win, while Tramnitz struggled. Stenshorne continued his success with another win in race two.


Câmara and Tramnitz had poles at Spa. Tramnitz faced challenges in race one, finishing third, while Stenshorne won. The wet second race saw Antonelli claiming victory and narrowing the gap to Tramnitz, but it was marred by a fatal accident involving Adam Fitzgerald and Dilano van 't Hoff, which ended the life of the young Dutchman and Spanish F4 champion of 2021.


A week later at Mugello, Stenshorne dominated race one, fending off Antonelli. In race two, Antonelli led to secure another win, while a crash between Ramos and Stenshorne tightened the championship, with Stenshorne holding a slim two-point lead.


The second half of the 2023 Formula Regional European Championship started at Paul Ricard with G4's Alessandro Giusti surprising everyone with a home pole. Giusti secured his maiden win in race one, while Antonelli finished fifth. Antonelli bounced back in race two, winning and taking a six-point championship lead into the summer break.


Spielberg saw Câmara dominating race one, securing the lead from pole, while Giusti took pole for race two, winning on his birthday. Stenshorne faced a challenging weekend, falling 33 points behind Antonelli. Monza witnessed Giusti winning race one after penalties to Antonelli and Amand. Antonelli recovered in race two, winning again and extending his lead to 43 points.


Haverkort claimed a home pole at Zandvoort, winning the race with Antonelli in second. Antonelli sealed the championship at Zandvoort, dominating the race and building a 64-point lead. The Hockenheimring finale saw Tramnitz winning race one, while Antonelli secured the championship with a dominating victory in race two.


Antonelli's consistency, apart from a few setbacks, propelled him to the championship. He dedicated his fourth championship in two years to Dilano van 't Hoff, stating that the weekend at Spa, where the Dutch driver lost his life, played a crucial role in his championship challenge, marking his first victory of the season at that venue. Prema won the Teams' Championship, and Antonelli finished the season 39 points ahead of Stenshorne.


The 2023 GB3 Championship commenced at Oulton Park, where Joseph Loake of JHR claimed pole positions and won the first race, securing a 1-2 finish for JHR after a red-flagged race. James Hedley won the second race in wet conditions, and Daniel Mavlyutov claimed victory in the final race after a crash-marred start. Loake extended his championship lead to 31 points.


Silverstone's first stop saw Tymek Kucharczyk disqualified from both pole positions. Loake inherited a win in the wet first race after a penalty to John Bennett. The second race saw another Loake victory due to penalties for Rees and Bennett. Race three was won by Noah Ping, but Loake maintained a 31-point lead in the championship. At Spa, Callum Voisin claimed double pole positions. Alex Dunne secured his maiden win in the first race, and the following races were dominated by Dunne and Voisin. Oliver Stewart won the reverse-grid race, but Voisin closed the gap to Loake to just two points.


The first half of the season concluded at Snetterton, where Matthew Rees and Voisin shared pole positions. James Hedley won the first race, and Kucharczyk was disqualified in race three, allowing Mavlyutov to claim victory. Loake struggled, and Dunne took a six-point championship lead after the weekend. Round five at Silverstone saw Matthew Rees securing both pole positions and dominating the first race, securing an unchallenged maiden win. In the second race, McKenzy Cresswell took the lead on the first lap, managing a safety car restart to claim his maiden win. Rain in the third race led to its abandonment, and Callum Voisin emerged as the only main championship contender on the podium, taking a one-point lead over Alex Dunne into the summer break.


At Brands Hatch, Joseph Loake and Voisin took pole positions for two races. Loake won the first race, with Voisin finishing second. In the second race, Voisin claimed his first win of the season, extending his championship lead to 14 points. The third race, won by Daniel Mavlyutov, saw multiple crashes, affecting title contender Loake. Voisin's win and Dunne's retirement widened the championship gap to 14 points.


Zandvoort hosted the penultimate round, where Dunne secured both pole positions. He won both races, closing the championship gap to six points behind Voisin. Mavlyutov claimed the reversed-grid third race, with Dunne back in contention, the top three separated by 17 points. The "Donington Decider" featured Voisin claiming double pole positions. Voisin won the first race, extending his lead by 28 points. Dunne won the second race, keeping the title fight alive, but Loake dropped out of contention. The final race was won by Gerrard Xie, but Voisin secured the championship, having been consistent throughout the season despite fewer wins.


Voisin's strategic consistency, with two wins and numerous podiums, proved decisive in winning the championship. Despite Dunne and Loake winning more races, Voisin's strong overall performance secured the title. The championship had a successful year with a regular 25-car grid, showcasing intense competition among the top contenders.


In the inaugural round of Eurocup-3 at Spa, 16 cars competed in wet conditions. Mari Boya of MP secured two pole positions, but Campos's Francesco Braschi claimed victory in the first race after starting eighth. Boya won the second race, with Braschi finishing second to take the championship lead.


Boya withdrew from the second round at MotorLand Aragón due to a clashing F3 commitment. Esteban Masson of Campos secured a double win, taking the lead in the standings, while Braschi maintained his points lead. The third round at Monza saw Boya returning and sharing pole positions with leader Braschi. Boya won the first race, and in the second race, he secured another victory, with Sagrera in second and Masson in third. Masson reclaimed the lead in the standings. At Zandvoort, Masson, starting on pole, faced tricky wet conditions, ultimately winning the first race. Boya bounced back with a pole for the second race, but Masson took the lead early and secured a double win, extending his lead to 35 points.


The second half of the Eurocup-3 season kicked off at Circuito de Jerez with Nikola Tsolov securing pole position on debut. Tsolov faced a slow start in the first race, allowing Francesco Braschi to take the lead, and despite recovering to second, he couldn't catch Braschi. Sebastian Øgaard claimed victory in the second race. Estoril witnessed Esteban Masson regaining control, securing a win in the first race, while the second race saw MP Motorsport dominating with a 1-2-3 finish led by Mari Boya. The penultimate round at Circuit Ricardo Tormo featured Masson's pole-to-flag victory in the first race, and Boya secured a win in the second race.


The championship decider at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya saw Masson taking pole and dominating both races, securing the inaugural Eurocup-3 championship. The series showcased consistent participation, with 20 cars in the season finale. Masson, Boya, and Øgaard engaged in a competitive battle, highlighting the success of the debut championship. Despite occasional mistakes, Masson's dominant performance in the final races secured his championship victory.


The 2023 season of Formula Regional Americas kicked off at NOLA Motorsports Park, where Ryan Shehan of Crosslink Kiwi claimed pole and secured a lights-to-flag victory in the opening race. In race two, Nick Persing made an error, allowing Cooper Becklin to finish second and Callum Hedge to secure a podium. Becklin had pole for the first race but fell down the order due to a lock-up incident, while Shehan took his third podium, leaving Avondale with a 17-point lead.


At Road America, Hedge dominated the first race, forcing Becklin to yield to Shehan. The second race was briefly halted due to a crash, but Hedge secured another win. Shehan took second without needing to overtake, and Becklin defended third. Race three, interrupted by safety cars, saw Hedge unbeaten again, with Shehan in second and Becklin third. Hedge's triple win propelled him to a championship lead, four points ahead of Shehan. Mid-Ohio had only nine drivers, with Hedge awarded pole due to his standings lead. He led Shehan throughout, securing his fourth straight win. In the second race, Shehan's pole advantage was short-lived as Hedge quickly took the lead, maintaining the finishing order. The third race mirrored the previous weekends, with Hedge claiming another win. His triple win expanded his championship lead to 25 points.


Entry numbers dwindled further at New Jersey Motorsports Park, with only seven cars present. Hedge secured pole, but his win streak ended as Westling and Bowlsbey surprised everyone. Hedge couldn't pass Westling, while Shehan was penalized for contact with Bowlsbey, allowing Becklin to claim a podium. Hedge returned to dominance in the second race, starting fourth but swiftly passing competitors to secure the win. In the third race, Hedge dominated, extending his lead to 55 points. At Virginia International Raceway, Hedge took another pole. In race one, he fended off Shehan, who made a mistake, finishing under caution. Becklin secured third. The second race followed the familiar pattern, with Hedge leading, Shehan second, and Becklin passing Westling for third. In race three, an engine issue forced Hedge to retire, and Becklin won, narrowing Hedge's lead to 51 points.


The season finale at Circuit of the Americas saw Hedge maintain his dominance, securing the championship with a win in race one. Race two featured Westling's second win, narrowly passing Hedge in the final corner. In race three, Hedge secured another unchallenged win, concluding the season. Hedge's impressive season included all but one pole position, thirteen wins, and sixteen podiums in eighteen races.


The fourth Super Formula Lights Championship kicked off at Autopolis in late May, featuring B-Max Racing's Iori Kimura securing two pole positions. However, his teammate Igor Fraga faced issues, allowing the TOM'S pair of Hibiki Taira and Yuga Furutani to claim podium spots in the first race. Race two saw Kimura holding off challenges from Toda Racing's Syun Koide, securing another win. Kimura continued his dominance in the third race, leaving the first round with a 20-point lead.


Sportsland Sugo hosted the second round, where Taira claimed both pole positions. Taira won the first two races, but a mechanical issue in the final race allowed Fraga to take the victory. Despite this, Taira closed the points gap to ten. At Suzuka for round three, Taira and Kimura shared pole positions. The first race saw chaos in foggy conditions, with Togo Suganami emerging as the winner. Kimura won the second race, and Taira secured the third, taking the championship lead.


Fuji Speedway marked the start of the second half, with Enzo Trulli winning the first race. Taira extended his lead in race two, finishing second. Trulli won the third race, further strengthening Taira's lead. Okayama hosted the penultimate round, where Syun Koide dominated the first two races. Taira maintained his points lead despite an anonymous weekend.


The season finale at Motegi saw Kimura securing pole positions and winning the first two races, taking the championship lead. Suganami won the third race, but Kimura secured the title with an eleven-point lead.


Throughout the season, Taira and Kimura battled for the title, with Taira leading in the middle stages and Kimura excelling at the start and end. The championship featured an international spotlight, but the series will transition to a single-engine format in 2024, aiming to control costs and potentially attract more entries.


The Algarve International Circuit hosted the season opener with ten cars. Enzo Trulli secured pole position for CryptoTower Racing, leading race one, while teammate Tim Tramnitz finished fourth but reclaimed second. Noel León of Motopark took third. In race two, Cian Shields couldn't start, giving Francesco Simonazzi the lead. Trulli and Tramnitz battled, and Simonazzi won. León claimed victory in the third race.


At Spa, León took pole, but both he and Shields struggled in race one. Simonazzi took the lead, with Bryce Aron finishing third. In race two, Aron won after Simonazzi lost the lead. A crash halted race three, letting Shields win. León led the championship by 22 points. León dominated at the Hungaroring, winning the first race. Aron won race two with a reverse grid. In race three, Mason won after Noda's poor start. Aron's win moved him ahead of Simonazzi, 42 points behind León.


The first half ended at Paul Ricard, where Noda won race one. Aron won race two, and Shields led race three from start to finish. León's lead over Aron reduced to 18 points.


Despite a seven-week break, León maintained his dominance with another pole position at the Red Bull Ring. In race one, four drivers stalled, allowing Shields to finish second and Joshua Dufek in third. Aron won race two after a collision involving Simonazzi, with León securing victory in the third race. Shields won race three, reducing the championship gap to 60 points.


At Monza, León claimed his fifth consecutive pole and won a rain-affected race one. Wurz won race two, while Dufek secured victory in the third race, further expanding León's lead to 85 points. Mugello saw Wurz end León's pole streak. León won race one, and Shields took race two, but León clinched the championship with a comfortable 101-point lead.


Trulli returned at Barcelona, winning race one, while Révész and Simonazzi won races two and three, respectively, with Bergmeister securing the Rookies' Championship. León finished the season with an 87-point lead.


The series faced challenges with low participation, overshadowed by other championships. Controversies, including a special rule for female drivers, affected the championship's popularity, leading to uncertainty about its future.


Nine cars participated in the season opener at Fuji Speedway, where Sota Ogawa of Bionic Jack claimed pole for all three races. In race one, Yuya Hiraki of HELM took the lead, winning the race. The second race saw Ogawa running off track, allowing Ryunosuke Sawa to take the lead. Ogawa recovered to finish second, with Hiraki in third. Ogawa finally secured a win in the third race, leaving Fuji with a three-point lead in the championship.


At Suzuka Circuit, the grid reduced to seven cars. Kazuki Oki won the first race, which ended under a red flag due to torrential rain. Ogawa won the second race. Round three at Okayama saw Ogawa dominating, winning the first race and finishing second in the second race, with Liam Sceats claiming the third race win.


The second half began at Motegi, where Ogawa retired in race one, allowing Jiei Okuzumi to win. The second race had a close finish, with Ogawa narrowly beating Enzo Trulli. In the third race, Sceats won, reducing Ogawa's championship lead to 47 points.


At the 6 Hours of Fuji support race, Ogawa's lead decreased further as Sawa won the first race, and Sceats won the second race. The final round at Sugo saw Ogawa securing the championship with a fourth-place finish in the last race. Ogawa became the champion in his third year, navigating a season with limited competitive entries.


Despite foreign drivers participating, the series struggled to attract entries, with only two drivers completing the full season. Ogawa's familiarity with the car and tracks played a key role in his championship victory.

28th December, 2023