Joshua Dufek emphasised his race-winning potential ahead of a busy 2023 campaign, even if the fates ensured he left the Formula Regional Middle East double-header in Kuwait with little to show for his efforts.
Instead of invigorating his title challenge in the renamed championship, and celebrating a maiden win at F3 level, the talented teenager was left to rue a run of misfortune that masked a stunning turn of pace at the new Kuwait Motor City venue.
Regrouping after a frustrating opening round in Dubai, Josh and the PHM Racing team were immediately amongst the frontrunners as the circuit hosted its first ever event, posting strong testing times before qualifying well for both three-race meetings. The opening triple-header looked set to be especially prosperous for the Swiss-domiciled driver, with fourth place in the opening race being commuted to a first podium of the season once penalties were handed out. Better was to follow — for a short while anyway — as Josh expertly converted eighth on a reversed grid into what appeared to be a commanding victory, waiting out two safety car periods before cruising away from the field to take the chequered flag nearly two seconds ahead of his nearest rival.
Even as he was celebrating, however, the stewards determined that the #13 PHM did not confirm exactly to the rulebook, and removed it from the results — a move that clearly motivated Josh to prove a point in race three as he recovered from a mid-grid start to claim sixth on the road, again exhibiting the sort of pace that had characterised his entire weekend.
Returning to the same venue just days later for round three of the five-round championship, Josh and PHM picked up from where they had left off, running strongly in the closely-contested qualifying sessions before making up places in all three races to cross the line ninth, fourth and seventh and head into the ten-day break before round four sitting on the fringe of the overall top ten.
"In truth, it was a painful to come away from what seemed like two promising race weekends with just a P3 and a few other top 10 finishes — especially when I think that we could have dominated everyone and challenged for podiums and wins in every single race," Josh reflected. " In the end, a mix of many things — bad sets of tyres, mechanical issues, penalties and that disqualification — as well, to be completely honest, as too many mistakes on my part took that potential away. We should have won more than once and that is a really frustrating thought.
"However, with the pace that we showed across the two meetings in Kuwait, I know that we’ll be competitive in the final two rounds and I’m looking forward to going out there, fighting for what I didn’t get in Kuwait and showing that we deserved a better return for everyone's effort."
Round four of the 2023 Formula Regional Middle East Championship takes place at the Dubai Autodrome over the weekend of 11-12 February.