Joshua Dufek heads into the 2022 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine campaign in a positive frame of mind, having run close to the outright pace through three official test sessions.
The trio of pre-season acclimatisation runs were compressed into a two-week span in the run up to the opening round in Italy at the end of April, and each highlighted not only how big the class of 2022 is going to be, but also how closely they expect to race. Despite around 40 cars being present at each of the six test days, some favourites have begun to emerge, but will have the rest of the pack snapping at their heels throughout the ten-round championship.
Josh's campaign kicked off in the familiar surrounds of the Circuit de Catalunya on the outskirts of Barcelona, and the series rookie started strongly, with three top ten finishes across the four track sessions. A best time of 1min 41.126secs, set on his second morning in the #13 Van Amersfoort Racing Tatuus-Renault, was also within a second of the fastest lap of the test as Josh racked up an impressive 125 laps of the Spanish Grand Prix venue.
There was only a few days' respite before the Formula Regional paddock re-assembled in the south of France, and Josh again stepped up to the mark across four outings at the Circuit Paul Ricard. After an opening day on the fringes of the top ten overall, the dual national Swiss resident kicked on on day two, twice posting times good enough for P3 in session. Ironically, however, his best time remained that from the opening session, leaving him 14th on the combined timesheets.
The third and final test came at Monza, host to the opening round of the championship over the weekend of 23rd-24th April. While not as productive in terms of his position on the timesheets, Josh could take heart from the fact that less than a second covered the top 30-plus runners, ensuring he remained as close to the pace as he had in previous sessions.
“I knew, going into the season, that this was going to be a big step up from F4, so I'm encouraged by how the various tests went,” Josh claimed.“We enjoyed a day at the top of the times in Paul Ricard but I think that the overall picture is more representative of where we are ahead of round one. My goal remains to chase rookie honours but I know that, with more time spent in the car and with the VAR engineers, I can hope for more than that.”