Carlin’s Louis Sharp enjoyed an impressive weekend in Abu Dhabi as the Formula 4 UAE Trophy Round took place as part of the support series for the Formula one race weekend. Carlin entered the event with a two-car team consisting of New Zealand racer Sharp and Australian Costa Toparis, with the backing of Rodin Cars, and came away from the event with Sharp taking both victories. Costa just missed out on a podium in the opening race of the weekend and suffered damage in the second which sent him down the order however still showed great pace throughout.
Carlin’s F4 UAE debut started with a quick free practice session for the drivers to get acclimated to the circuit and tyres. The 45-minute session saw both Sharp and Costa make the most of the time on offer around the Yas Marina track with the duo finishing third and seventh respectively.
Qualifying took place later Friday afternoon under spectacular floodlights and saw great action as the field battled for position. In much cooler track conditions both Sharp and Costa were able to produce strong laps and set the third and ninth fastest times to secure their race one starting positions.
Race one saw Sharp go up against 2022 British Formula Four Champion Dunne who lined up on pole position. Sharp was able to get up right behind the Hitech driver after Rifai, from second on the grid, stalled; Sharp set his sights on Dunne ahead and was able to steal the lead of the race on the fourth lap.
Costa meanwhile was already making progress and had brilliantly moved up to fourth after just two laps of racing action – one of the biggest movers in the field. The fantastic team effort saw 15-year-old Sharp take victory and Costa just outside the podium in fourth.
Ready to do it all again the next day, the pair would start higher up thanks to their great race one fastest lap efforts. Lining up from pole position Sharp battled with Dunne once again and was able to come out on top holding the race lead despite neither giving an inch in their battle for position – Dunne was later penalised for contact that sent Sharp running wide.
Costa meanwhile found himself in the middle of the melee on track. Having made his way up to third position, with a podium in his sights, he came under pressure and soon had Dunne for close company, who by this point was attempting to make his way back through the field. A late breaking move sent Dunne into the back of Toparis which caused a puncture for the Carlin driver and a subsequent trip to the pits.
As the flag fell, Sharp took his second dominant victory of the weekend, while Toparis came home rueing his bad luck during the race in eighth place.
Sharp said of the race weekend, “Racing in Abu Dhabi has been an incredible experience and I can’t thank David Dicker and Rodin Cars enough – without their wonderful support none of this would be possible.
“Having only raced at home in New Zealand, I really had no idea how I would stack up against the very best of international opposition. My performances in the British Championship, now topped by these two wins in Abu Dhabi, give me lots of confidence and self-belief going forward. To stand on top of the F1 podium and hear the New Zealand anthem was just so, so cool.”
Costa added, “I’d like to thank Carlin and Rodin Cars for the opportunity to race at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It’s obviously a shame that we couldn’t get the result that Carlin and Rodin deserve but we’ll be working extremely hard to improve and bring top results in future.”