Joshua Dufek claimed a brace of top six finishes in round two of the 2023 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA) account at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya over the weekend to move within touching distance of a spot in the championship's top five.
Returning to the scene of one of his many Rookie class wins from the end of last season, the Van Amersfoort Racing driver was at the sharp end of the field throughout the weekend, starting with the fifth-fastest time in Friday's practice session — having earlier posted several laps good enough to top the table — and following that up with fourth place in each of Saturday's qualifying sessions, the flow of which were interrupted by red flags.
Although he benefited from being on track at the optimum time in first qualifying, claiming seventh on the grid in glorious sunshine — despite lapping faster than the driver who would ultimately end up sixth overall due to FRECA's need for split qualifying groups — Josh was obliged to run in the opening group of the second session and, although he posted his best time as the chequered flag approached, had to watch as conditions improved from initially overcast to near perfect for the later runners. Nevertheless, fourth in his section again netted a fourth-row start for race one later that day.
Amidst a typically frenetic start to race one, Josh vaulted the #13 VAR machine into sixth position by the time the safety car was forced to intervene at the end of lap one and, with the marshals unable to remove the stricken cars quickly, trundled into pit-lane in the same position as the red flag was thrown at the end of the third tour. The order remained the same once racing resumed, despite Josh looking for a way past RPM's Maceo Capietto, and any hope the young Swiss driver had of moving into the top five ended when the safety car returned and controlled the pace for the final five minutes of the half-hour event.
Another strong start to race two early on Sunday morning launched Josh into fifth place but, thereafter, the story was much the same as the previous evening's, with the VAR driver all over the back of an RPM rival — this time Santiago Ramos — but unable to nail a passing opportunity as the Barcelona layout again proved immune to overtaking. Despite forcing Ramos into numerous defensive moves over the second half of the race, Josh had to accept fifth place and another valuable points haul for his morning's work.
"Barcelona was a good bounce back from our first race weekend at Imola," the youngster confirmed. "Although we weren’t able to finish exactly where we wanted to, we still secured some very valuable points and therefore caught up in the championship as well. We have the speed to win, it’s just about putting it all together on track when it counts. There are lots more races to come and I feel confident that it won’t be long until we’re be back on top where we belong."
Round three of the 2023 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine takes place at the Hungaroring, near Budapest, over the weekend of 17-18 June.