Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year, Alex Dunne, prepared for his 2022 European Car Racing season with an impressive, confidence building, challenge for the UAE Formula 4 Championship during January and February. The sixteen year old Irish star made huge progress as he took his first two car racing wins and established himself as a consistent front runner in a championship which featured the top young racers from around the world.
Dunne headed to the UAE in Early January to meet up with his new team, Hitech GP and get acquainted with the all new Formula 4 car which has been introduced for 2022. With new tracks to learn and the entire championship condensed into five consecutive weekends the Harris Group and Motorsport Ireland backed driver new he had a major challenge ahead.
With limited testing available, the opening race weekends were used to try a range of different set-ups on the unfamiliar car, but this did not hold Alex back as he just missed out on a podium by finishing fourth in race one at the Yas Marina Grand Prix Circuit. Two more top tens were achieved over the remaining three races to complete a solid opening weekend.
Moving to Dubai Autodrome for the second round, the team continued to gather data on the new car by trying a range of setups, resulting in a string of top ten finishes. Staying at Dubai Autodrome for round three, Alex’s results from the first three races of the event did not properly reflect the progress being made, but he put that right in the final race of the weekend.
Having started fifth the only Irish driver in the field showed his true potential for the first time as he led comfortably by the end of lap one. An incident behind him brought out the red flags and while Dunne followed the rules and returned to the grid every other driver in the field made their way into pit lane. The actions of the other drivers led to the bizarre situation where Alex would start the race as the only car on the grid, but with so many cars starting from pit lane it was decided to re-start the race behind as safety car while adding a five second penalty to the entire field, except Alex.
Away from the restart the Hitech car again led and pulled clear of the field apart from just one of his competitors. With his pit crew keeping him informed of his advantage the young Irish driver allowed his rival to pass, rather than getting into a battle and then maintained the gap at under five seconds to take his first Car Racing win.
With the development work on the car progressing, Dunne was at his most competitive for the final two rounds. At round 4 he qualifying on the front two rows in both sessions and then went on to add another podium finish to his record, before heading for the final weekend of the season.
Returning to Yas Marina for the first time since round one, Alex ran at the front throughout the weekend taking an impressive second race win of the year in race three along with fastest lap. With the front portion of the grid reversed for the final race, Alex’s win put him eleventh on the grid but he impressed once again as he coolly picked of his rivals to finish the championship with a fourth podium.
Speaking on his return home from the UAE, Alex expressed his satisfaction with the way things had gone. “We went to the UAE Championship to build my knowledge of the new car and to learn some new tracks and the whole experience has been extremely beneficial. I learned so much about working with a team of the calibre of Hitech, and developing a car. For all the hard work to result in my first Car Racing wins has just been phenomenal. In the end I took two wins, two more podiums and finished fifth in the standings, while competing against the best young talent in the world. I have to thank Hitech for the opportunity of racing in the UAE and all of my sponsors, Harris Group, Motorsport Ireland, VTL, Reynolds Logistics, Artisan and PDS as without them and the support of my parents I would not have been on the grid.”
Alex Dunne will continue his 2022 Formula 4 challenge in Europe. Details of his 2022 programme are still being finalised with will be announced over the coming weeks. To keep up to date with Alex’s career you can follow him on his social media channels.
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