Joshua Dufek enjoyed perhaps his best weekend of the 2022 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine at the Hungaroring, claiming two points-scoring finishes in races where his passing prowess came to the fore.
Despite having been denied his rookie class win from the previous round at Zandvoort, the Van Amersfoort Racing driver built upon his strong weekend in the Dutch dunes as the hotly-contested FRECA circus arrived for round six of the season in Budapest, starting with second place in a VAR 1-2 at the official pre-event test.
Although practice saw him a little further back in the order — if not much different in terms of time gap to the leaders — in Friday's free practice session, Josh was back on the pace in the first of the weekend's two qualifying sessions, using his final lap to vault up to third place in his group, a spot that held out for fifth on the grid for race one later in the day.
Making a good start from the inside of row three, the Swiss-domiciled racer capitalised on Paul Aron's slow getaway from the front of the grid to seize third place through the opening sequence of corners, only for a scrappy end to the lap to send him back to his original position. Josh then found himself in a rapidly-moving train of cars fighting over third place, too closely-matched to allow overtaking, despite the VAR driver running right under the rear wing of fourth-placed Leonardo Fornaroli for much of the 30-minute duration.
Buoyed by his best result of the season to date, Josh secured another top ten qualifying spot on Sunday morning, but saw any hope of a late jump up the order frustrated by a dusty track surface. With his qualifying group running more slowly than those first on track, it also meant that the teenager would line up on the dirtier side of the grid, but a clean start ensured he held position before attempting a pass for ninth at the start of lap two.
Although that move was rebuffed, Josh had signalled his intentions and, having taken time to assess his best opportunities, pulled off a series of moves that not only propelled him up the order but also excited the live race feed. Brilliant moves on laps seven and nine respectively accounted for both Owen Tangavelou and Maceo Capietto at turn one — the latter having been sold the perfect dummy — while Pietro Delli Guanti succumbed in similar fashion at the start of lap 12. Seventh placed appeared to be as high as the #13 machine was going to rise, however, until a late safety car moved him right onto the tail of P6. Surviving a turn one lunge from Delli Guanti one lap after the restart raised heartrates in the Dufek camp, but the VAR driver gained a spot in the chaos, passing Aron seconds before the safety car boards appeared again, ensuring a second top-six result of the weekend.
"The hard work is definitely starting to show," Josh smiled. "This weekend was a big step forward overall, and managing to get good qualifying positions put us in a better situation to contend for good points.
"I made an excellent start in the first race, getting up to P3 from P5, but sadly I made a costly mistake at the chicane which cost me that potential overall podium and resulted me in finishing back in fifth instead. For the second race, I had a more challenging starting position, but that wasn’t going to stop me from climbing up the field. Thanks to some good overtaking, I was able to claim sixth place and some very valuable points!"
With points from both races in Hungary, Josh now sits on the fringe of the top ten overall and a solid fourth in the rookie standings with a third of the season still to run.
Round seven of the 2022 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine takes place at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, in Belgium, over 28-29 July.