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Back on track for the first of 3 back-to-back races, Josh Dufek fought his way forward to score his best weekend in the FIA Formula 3 Championship so far. Despite a difficult qualifying the Austrian racer battled back to climb 11 places in both races.

Sitting on the outskirts of Barcelona, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya offers up a series of long sweeping turns and high-powered straights, which can prove difficult for overtaking. Having gained F3 experience at the track at mid-season testing in April, Josh was ready to hit the ground running upon his return to the track.

A Rough Start

Starting the weekend on Friday morning, the pack weren’t too eager to get out on track leaving it to halfway through the 45-minute session before heading out on to the track for their

first laps of the day. Josh had encouraging pace as he put his first laps on the board, continuing to finish the session P15. Encouraged by his pace, Josh was confident he could convert it into a strong qualifying result. 

Qualifying was a frantic affair on Friday afternoon with initial laps providing a glimpse of just how close the margins were between the pack. After taking on a fresh set of hard tyres, it was clear that it would come right down to the wire as each driver pushed to the absolute limit in their bid for their fastest lap. 

With the fast laps tumbling in, unfortunately Josh was one of the drivers who found their lap time was deleted for track limits. As the times continued to improve, with the bit between his teeth he set about pushing for his best lap. However a slight error on his final run meant he was forced to abandon his final push lap. With the field covered by less than a second, he finished the session in a disappointing P28.

"It was a shame because our pace looked good and our sector times were coming in nicely. Unfortunately on the last lap I went wide at Turn 9 as I pushed too much and was on the edge of being flat out into that corner. I tried to keep it pinned and the car snapped and went wide. But I think with a good start and tyre saving we can make up some good positions in the race.”

Making great strides

Eyes forward and focused on fighting forward when the lights went out for the sprint race, Josh immediately got to work. Battling hard from the off, he managed to score a position in the opening lap by mastering his start and keeping it clean. Further finding his way by Floersch who ran wide into the gravel. Making up places as others faltered, the tenacious racer showcased his control to have elevated himself 6 positions by the time the Safety Car neutralised the race. Making moves at the restart, even without the benefit of DRS along the start-finish straight he fought his way up to P19 and set about chasing down Wurz for P18. 

As the race settled down into a DRS train where the entire field were on equal footing, Josh looked after his tyres and kept himself within the fight to cross the line in P17. Making up 11 places in the race was a strong comeback for the rookie driver. 

“Today was a positive step forward from yesterday. I managed to pull off some good overtakes and we did the most we could and the luck came our way with some other cars going off in front. It’s frustrating to see how we could’ve performed if we had a better qualifying, but we can also take it as a positive that the car is a massive step forward from where we have been in previous races.”

Continuing Momentum 

Sunday morning saw the 100th race in FIA Formula 3’s history. Closing his visor and fine-tuning his focus, Josh was prepared to continue his positive momentum from the Sprint Race. However it would be a hard-fought battle against his rivals and tyre wear throughout the 25 lap race. 

Engaging wheel-to-wheel with the field from the very first lap, the AIX Racing driver managed to fight his way up to P24 by Lap 6. Calling upon experience gained in the season so far he progressed through the field on a track that typically offers little chance for overtaking, dispatching Floersch before sweeping his way by Locke before the race reached the halfway mark. Josh was able to get a better run on his rivals whilst looking after his tyres to take further places from Mini and Zagazeta.

With the appearance of rain in the last sector throwing one last curveball, the field twitched their way through the closing stages. Josh managed to keep his car on track to benefit when Stenshorne and van Hoepen collided at Turn 4. The incident leaving both with punctures promoted Josh two further places to equal his Sprint Race finish of P17.

Reflecting on the weekend Josh commented: 

“Overall I’m happy with the races this weekend. We made great progress and with a good qualifying position we can be fighting for points. I’m looking forward to Red Bull Ring next weekend not only because it’s my home race, but I really like the track also. It’ll be great to see all the Austrian fans at the track, I know they’ll bring a great atmosphere!”

FIA Formula 3 returns to the track in just a few short days when racing continues at the Red Bull Ring, where Josh Dufek will enjoy battling in front of home crowds in his native Austria from 28-30th June.


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