Rafael Camara shines in Pre-Event Collective Test at Spa Francorchamps

Just over ten days after the inaugural round of the season at Hockenheim, the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine was back in action on the iconic Spa Francorchamps circuit. The track, nestled in the Ardennes forest, hosted the Pre-Event Collective Test, a six-hour session where the young drivers of the international series pushed their single-seaters to the limit in preparation for the second of the ten race weekends scheduled for the 2024 calendar.

Rafael Camara emerged victorious at the end of the day, clocking the fastest time of 2’14″741 at the wheel of a Prema Racing car. This performance confirmed his strong form displayed in Germany, where he topped the provisional championship standings with 43 points, thanks to a win in Race 1 and a second-place finish in Race 2.

During the morning session, under sunny and dry conditions, it was the ART Grand Prix driver and Williams Academy standard bearer Alessandro Giusti who led the field with a time of 2’14″866. Alongside the Frenchman, the only other driver to break the 2’15” barrier was James Wharton (Prema Racing), ahead of his teammates Ugo Ugochukwu (easily recognizable on track with his new McLaren-themed livery) and Ferrari Driver Academy’s Camara, who finished fourth.

Notable performances also came from two rookies: Noah Strømsted (RPM) set the fifth fastest time, followed by Hockenheim Race 2 winner Evan Giltaire (ART Grand Prix), who was sixth. Brando Badoer, the leading Van Amersfoort Racing driver, secured the seventh fastest time, ahead of Ruiqi Liu (Trident) and Ivan Domingues (Van Amersfoort Racing). Italian Matteo De Palo (Sainteloc Racing) rounded out the top ten. Special mention goes to reigning Formula 1 Academy champion Marta Garcia, who secured the eleventh best time in an Iron Dames car.

After the lunch break, the cars returned to the track, again under dry conditions, with Camara delivering the best performance of the day. Behind the Brazilian driver, another Ferrari Academy member, Tuukka Taponen (R-ace GP), finished second as time expired. Wharton continued his strong performance, finishing third, followed by Badoer and Ugochukwu. Italian driver Valerio Rinicella also made a mark in the afternoon session, setting the sixth fastest time in an MP Motorsport car, ahead of Roman Bilinski (Trident), Strømsted, Giusti, and Pedro Clerot (Van Amersfoort Racing), who completed the top ten.

Spa (BEL) MAY 23-26, 2024 – Second round of the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine 2024 at Circuit Spa-Francorchamps. Dilano van ‘t Hoff remembrance. © 2024 Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Photo Agency.

After the engines were switched off, the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine paddock gathered on track for a procession, followed by a minute of silence on the Kemmel straight, to commemorate MP Motorsport driver Dilano Van ’T Hoff, who tragically passed away last year at the Belgian circuit.

Tomorrow, the international series will be back in action at 9:50 AM for Collective Test 1 and at 2:05 PM for the second session.