Joshua Dufek continues to underline his natural pace and ability after adding anther brace of podium finishes at the EuroFormula Open double-header at Mugello.
Just a week after claiming his first win in the series at Monza, the Swiss youngster was again at the sharp end in all phases, adding another front row start to his podium appearances as EuroFormula Open completed back-to-back Italian rounds. Having claimed his win by just 0.046secs at the Autodromo Nazionale, margins continued to be tight from the start of events in Tuscany, with Josh being pipped to a maiden pole position by a mere 0.006secs in Saturday morning's qualifying session, having closed the gap to top spot throughout practice.
Race one proved to be typically frenetic, although the lap chart showed few positional changes each time the field came around. Having lost out on the run to the first corner, Josh also survived a brief off-track moment to run fourth overall, but always in touch with the leaders. When polesitter Charlie Wurz succumbed to a puncture on the fourth tour, however, Josh returned to the podium places, running third as the safety car controlled the field. At the restart, he found himself battling with both Francesco Simonazzi and Noel Leon as they diced for the lead of the race, with the rest of the field close behind, just waiting for one of the top three to slip up and give them an opportunity to progress. None came, however, and Josh — like his pursuers — had to accept the position he held, crossing the line third overall, but still within a second or so of the leading pair.
Race two, the following day, underlined the fact that, despite its numbers, EuroFormula Open continues to be one of the more hotly-contested F3 series, with almost the entire field running in a train that had the potential to reorganise itself on every lap. For Josh, however, it ultimately proved be a successful conclusion to his EFO sojourn as he gave chase to leader Cian Shields, who had taken advantage of an early move to ease away from the pack.
The fight for second place was, initially, the one to watch, with polesitter Levente Révész trying, in vain, to hold Bryce Aron, Josh, León and Simonazzi at bay. With the American having to pit after an off-track excursion and Simonazzi losing places to both Leon and Josh after being forced onto the grass by Révész, the Swiss CryptoTower driver began climbing the order, having struggled to get away from fourth on the grid. One lap later, Josh found a way by León and, another tour on, ended Révész’s stubborn resistance. Once clear of the Hungarian, the #69 machine managed to pull out a gap to the field, although the deficit to the fleeing Shields proved too big to breach before the chequered flag.
"Coming away from my final EuroFormula weekend with another two podiums is a great way to end our mini season and I feel that, throughout our participation in the championship, we really showed great adaptability to the new car through both raw speed and unwavering consistency," Josh concluded. "The weekend itself was not easy to begin with and, with track grip constantly evolving, it really was about who could adapt the quickest.
"Starting second in the first race — after missing out on pole by 0.006secs — put us in a good position initially but, unfortunately, after having a suboptimal start and with overtaking being so difficult, we only managed to finish in third place. Although we bettered that result in the final race, another poor start — due to clutch issues — dropped us back once again and presented me with the challenging task of trying to make my way back to the podium positions. To finish second overall, therefore, was very rewarding.
"Thankfully, strong pace throughout the whole weekend really helped us once again and, although the results could have been even better, I’m happy with the progression I’ve made and I’m feeling confident going into whatever lies ahead!"
Josh's 2024 plans will be revealed at a later date.